By Will Gellman @Will_Gellman on July 6, 2014
On July 24, the New England Patriots will hold their first training camp practice at Gillette Stadium, at which time, several roster positions will be up for grabs and interesting storylines will start to play out. While positional battles are not always decided by the end of camp, you can usually get a grasp of who the coaching staff is leaning toward before the preseason. These five storylines are worth watching throughout camp.
Arguably the most polarizing move the Patriots made in the draft, in the second round, the Patriots selected Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois even though they have Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett already on the roster. Can Mallett keep his backup job? Can Garoppolo beat him out? You could make a case that the backup quarterback position hasn't been this important in New England since Drew Bledsoe went down more than a decade ago.
The running back position comes with much uncertainty for the Patriots in 2014. After being benched in favor of LeGarrette Blount last season, Ridley has a chance to make a comeback this year. He will have lots of competition to beat out, though with Brandon Bolden, Shane Vereen, James White, Roy Finch and Stephen Houston all in the mix. Will he hold onto the football and reclaim his starting role? It's certainly something to watch during camp.
One of the few potential question marks on the Patriots' defense, the strong safety battle is wide open for the team. With Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson and possibly Logan Ryan in the mix at the position. Depending on whether the Patriots can adequately fill that spot or not, it could make the defense go from a top-10 unit to potentially the best in football. It is something to watch very closely throughout camp.
The New England Patriots 2014 first-round draft pick, DL Dominique Easley will be another important player to watch during camp. Everyone who has seen him play in college knows what he can be when healthy, but that's the problem, he had injury issues throughout college in the form of two ACL tears. It's likely that he will be ready for camp, though, and if he can put those injuries behind him, the Patriots could have something special.
The most dominant defender the Patriots have had since Ty Law, Revis is one of those players that can single-handedly change the way teams play offense. If fully healthy and in the right scheme, Revis is the best defensive player in football. That is why he is the No. 1 player to watch during camp, to see how well he picks up the system, whether he looks fully healthy, and whether he is in the right defensive scheme in New England.
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