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Previewing the New England Patriots’ 2014 Training Camp

Previewing the New England Patriots' 2014 Training Camp

New England Patriots 2014 training camp
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

It’s almost that time of year again. In a matter of single-digit days, the New England Patriots will be enduring the dog days of training camp. There is much to be decided before the Pats take the field in Week 1, but one thing is certain: the Patriots have added an abundance of talent over the offseason that will make training camp very interesting. Let’s take a closer look at what will go down in Foxboro, Mass. later this month.

Schedule

Bill Belichick New England Patriots 2014 training camp
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Schedule

Bill Belichick New England Patriots 2014 training camp
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

On July 23, Patriots veterans will report to training camp. After a night of nervous sleep, practice will begin July 24 at 9:15 a.m. sharp on the training fields adjacent to Gillette Stadium. Practices will continue to begin at 9:15 a.m. through July 27; details on ensuing sessions have yet to be announced.

Quarterbacks

New England Patriots quarterbacks
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks

New England Patriots quarterbacks
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2010, the Patriots are expected to carry three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Ryan Mallett and second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo will battle it out for the backup job behind Tom Brady. As of right now, Mallett has the upper-hand because of his experience in the Patriots’ offense, but that could change if Garoppolo impresses in camp.

Running Backs and Fullbacks

New England Patriots running backs
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Running Backs and Fullbacks

New England Patriots running backs
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The locks to make the roster are Stevan Ridley (although he must improve his ball security), Shane Vereen and fourth-round pick James White. The fourth running back spot will be up for grabs, with veteran Brandon Bolden competing against undrafted rookie free agents Roy Finch and Stephen Houston.

James Develin is expected to hold his starting job at fullback. He has also been taking reps at tight end.

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Julian Edelman New England Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

Julian Edelman New England Patriots
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Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson and free-agent pickup Brandon LaFell appear to be the only guarantees to make the roster at wide receiver. Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and seventh-rounder Jeremy Gallon will duke it out for the final two spots. At tight end, veterans Michael Hoomanawanui and D.J. Williams will look to fend off undrafted rookies Asa Watson and Justin Jones for the two spots behind Rob Gronkowksi.

Offensive Line

New England Patriots offensive line
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Line

New England Patriots offensive line
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots are fortunate to have the bulk of last year’s unit returning. Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell should all make the roster, but Wendell’s starting status at center is in serious jeopardy due to the addition of rookie Bryan Stork. The Pats’ other draft picks on the offensive line, Jon Halapio and Cameron Fleming, will have an uphill battle to make the team.

Defensive Line

New England Patriots defensive line
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

New England Patriots defensive line
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

All of a sudden, the Patriots have a menacing defensive line. Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly have the starting interior positions sealed, and Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are penciled-in as the starters on the outside. Newcomers Dominique Easley and Will Smith are also expected to make immediate impacts. Beyond those six guys, a combination of unproven veterans and rookies will fight for the final depth chart spots.

Linebackers

New England Patriots linebackers
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Linebackers

New England Patriots linebackers
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

In what could be a lethal triplet of linebackers, the projected starters in the Pats’ 4-3 scheme are Jerod Mayo, Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins. Keep an eye on offseason pickup James Anderson, who excels in coverage, and Steve Beauharnais, who will help pick up the slack on run defense after Brandon Spikes’ departure.

Defensive Backs

New England Patriots defensive backs
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Backs

New England Patriots defensive backs
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been quite awhile since the Patriots have fielded such a studded secondary. Darrelle Revis will undoubtedly be the No. 1 corner, with Logan Ryan and Alfonzo Dennard battling for the second spot while newcomer Brandon Browner is suspended for the month of September. Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon are slated to start at safety. Watch out for rookie defensive back Jemea Thomas making a run at playing time.

Special Teams

New England Patriots special teams
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams

New England Patriots special teams
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Jemea Thomas, his best bet to make the team could be as a kick returner. Other candidates for that duty include Roy Finch and Josh Boyce, with Julian Edelman expected to resume his role of punt returning. Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen own the kicker and punter positions, respectively.

Biggest Camp Battle: Starting Center

Bryan Stork New England Patriots
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Biggest Camp Battle: Starting Center

Bryan Stork New England Patriots
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell will be fighting tooth and nail against each other for the starting center position. It is paramount that the Patriots improve in this area in 2014 — either Wendell must show that he has gotten better over the offseason, or the rookie must step up and make an immediate impact. This writer has Stork edging Wendell in what will be a very tight battle.