5 Questions the New England Patriots Must Answer During Training Camp

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5 Questions the New England Patriots Must Answer During Training Camp

Bill
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

It is safe to say that the New England Patriots’ fan base has been spoiled as of late? A culture of winning was set with an elite quarterback and future Hall of Fame head coach. Last year resulted in another excellent regular season finish. Their 13-3 year provided New England with the AFC's No .1 overall seed throughout last year’s playoffs. Their voyage for Super Bowl appearance No. 7 came up just short with an AFC Championship Game loss. This coming season some change will take place.

New England has run their organization in a way where no player supersedes plans. Anyone appears to be expendable once production decreases at all. Sometimes roster moves are made before decline even takes place. Trading defensive tackle Richard Seymour in 2009 turned heads as he was one of his team’s leaders. Offensive tackle Nate Solder came from this pick and reviews have been mixed. Bold moves continue on a constant basis.

Receiver Randy Moss set a record for most receiving touchdowns in a single season during New England’s 18-1 2007 campaign. Three years later he was sent packing to the Minnesota Vikings. Basically when it is time to go in the eyes of this franchise, no wiggle room exists. Castoffs from their team can be washed up like Moss. Now another major departure will likely undergo this same inspection to see if letting go was a mistake. The Patriots also look to overcome a damaging aspect lately. Of course, one particular acquisition also gained further attention. With all of this in mind, here are five questions that the Patriots must answer during training camp.

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What Role will Tim Tebow Play?

Tim
Stew Miline-USA TodaySports

Unlike last year with the New York Jets, there is not even a remote chance of a quarterback controversy. Tom Brady will someday walk into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and part of his journey does not include getting benched in favor of anyone, especially Tim Tebow. With that said, the newest Patriot addition brings quite a following. Coach Bill Belichick can say Tebow is third string quarterback material all he wants, but some will want to see him more involved. Organizational stability may allow for this to work. However, some form of distraction has arrived.

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How Much Time is Left of Tom Brady’s Prime?

Tom
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

As bizarre as it sounds Brady is getting older despite the fact that images of a young player looking shocked after winning his first Super Bowl are still vivid. Brady enters this season at 36 years old. Quarterbacks typically begin their decline around this age, and although there has been no sign in this case, every athlete eventually succumbs to time. It may be at least one more year, but conventional wisdom says Brady has to come down to earth at some point.

There were still 34 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last year, though. A long-term plan may be in place. Ryan Mallett is likely to be No. 2 on the depth chart. He possesses major arm strength and pocket presence. Behavior issues were Mallett’s biggest concern during 2010’s NFL Draft. Under Belichick’s guidance he apparently has changed. As previously mentioned, Tebow is now on board and a two-year contract indicated there could be a vision for his future.

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Are the Receivers Good Enough?

Pats
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Losing one of football’s best slot receivers in Wes Welker hurts New England. A tremendous connection with his quarterback definitely helped. Now that Welker joined the Denver Broncosa>, there is a great void in this group. Danny Amendola assists in filling this void, but struggles to stay healthy. Julian Edelman fails to strike fear in opposing defenses. Donald Jones was effective for the division rival Buffalo Bills, but his four touchdowns last season were a career high. The team attempted to address receiver in 2013’s NFL Draft with Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. Lavelle Hawkins, formerly from the Tennessee Titans, has untapped potential so far. Mark Harrison from Rutgers is an undrafted free agent who provides intrigue. As a whole, this group remains a mystery.

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Can This Defense Hold up?

Defense
Greg M. Cooper -USATODAY Sports

Given Belichick’s defensive background, it is surprising that this unit performed so poorly last season. New England ranked 29th in pass yards per game and 24th against the run. Talent at free safety is there with Devin McCourty, who switches from corner. Adding veteran Adrian Wilson also was a very impressive move. Aquib Talib and Alonso Dinenard bring a lot of excitement. Doubts continue, though, even with playmakers on the defensive line in addition.

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When Will Rob Gronkowski be Healthy?

Gronk
David Buttler II-USATODAY Sports

A recent back surgery for tight end Rob Gronkoski causes concern for the Patriots in their quest for another Super Bowl victory. New England’s ability to use two-tight end sets with players as dangerous as Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez truly sets them apart from other teams. Hernandez is more than capable of being No. 1, but his future could be uncertain as this murder investigation continues. Last year’s decision to sign former-New York Giant Jake Ballard to a contract now makes more sense. Unfortunately, there may be no way to replace this special player.


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