By Nick Villano @nick_villano on June 2, 2014
The New England Patriots are looking to once again be the cream of the crop in the AFC. They made big moves during the offseason to bolster their offense and defense. With new faces brings new competitions. There are several key battles in important positions along the depth chart. These five position battles are the ones to watch during OTAs.
With the departure of LeGarrette Blount to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots have an interesting decision to make in the backfield. Former 1,000 yard rusher Stevan Ridley needs to work out his fumbling problem. Shane Vereen gets hurt every time it looks like he is going to become the starter. Brandon Bolden has been in hot water for a drug suspension that cost him four games. Watching these three go at it will be fun.
The left cornerback position is going to be Darrelle Revis. There will be no controversy. It is his as long as he is healthy. The right side will be an interesting battle, however. The team just gave Brandon Browner a million contract (although it is very team friendly). He will miss the first four games. They still have former starter Alfonzo Dennard. Also, slot corners Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan will fight for the job.
Rob Gronkowski's health is up in the air, as it always seems to be, after a torn ACL ended his 2013 season. That means backup tight end is extremely important since their other TE is trying (not very well) to prove he doesn't kill people. They have Michael Hoomanawanui coming back. They also signed two rookies in Justin Jones and Asa Watson (brother of Ben). Expect someone else to join the mix - maybe Dustin Keller?
After the Pats cut Steve Gregory and Adrian Wilson, they now have a question at the SS position. Duron Harmon is the front-runner right now. No, seriously. There was talk of moving a cornerback to safety, or moving former second round pick Tavon Austin over. They even brought back Patrick Chung to fight for the job.
Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to receiver. They have Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Kembrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce who could all gain over 1,000 yards or 200 and nobody would be surprised. Bill Belichek showed in the past that he won't always go with the obvious choice when a position battle occurs.
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