NFL New England Patriots

New England Patriots Training Camp: Top 10 Takeaways So Far

New England Patriots Training Camp: 10 Takeaways So Far

Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots held their second joint practice with the Washington Redskins on Tuesday, and the teams will square off in their preseason opener on Thursday. The Patriots went 12-4 in 2013, but lost to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots are working towards getting back to and winning another Super Bowl, which would be the fourth for the organization. Here are 10 takeaways from the Patriots' training camp.

10. Bill Belichick Believes Conditioning Can Still Be Improved

Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

10. Bill Belichick Believes Conditioning Can Still Be Improved

Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Bill Belichick has said the Patriots are making progress with their conditioning, but he doesn’t believe they are where they need to be for the opener. He said that to get into condition to play football you have to play football, not just run around a track and do sit-ups. There is certainly a lot of truth to that and almost every NFL coach would agree.

9. Ryan Mallet Has Been Hyped as a Starting QB

Patriots
Getty Images

9. Ryan Mallet Has Been Hyped as a Starting QB

Patriots
Getty Images

NFL analyst Mike Mayock said Mallet is a legitimate NFL starting QB. Mayock is probably right, but the hype has reached ridiculous levels since there is really no sample size to go off of. Hopefully this helps the trade market for Mallet. It’s nothing personal, but Brady’s not going anywhere for at least a few years. The Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round this year, and they should get what they can for Mallet.

8. The Defense is Coming Together and Bringing Physicality to the Team

Patriots
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

8. The Defense is Coming Together and Bringing Physicality to the Team

Patriots
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013, the Patriots ranked 18th against the pass (239 yards per game) and 30th against the run (134.1 yards per game). Yes, they were decimated by injuries, but the Patriots' defense has to play better in 2014 if they hope to win the Super Bowl. Brandon Browner was signed in the offseason, and he has played well in camp. He has also brought physicality to the entire team.

7. Darrelle Revis Is As Good As Fans Thought

Patriots
Getty Images

7. Darrelle Revis Is As Good As Fans Thought

Patriots
Getty Images

Everyone knew Revis was good when the Patriots signed him this offseason, and he is proving it in camp. There have been times in camp when QBs have refused to throw in his direction during 1-on-1 drills because he was covering receivers that closely. Having Revis in the secondary will allow Bill Belichick and the Patriots to do more on defense.

6. Duron Harmon Is the Front-Runner to Play SS

Patriots
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

6. Duron Harmon Is the Front-Runner to Play SS

Patriots
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Devin McCourty will start at FS, and it appears that the SS position is Harmon’s to lose. He isn’t being handed a starting role on a silver platter by any means, but he is the front-runner. That said, there’s still a long way to go, and Pat Chung, Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson are all getting reps. Even CB Logan Ryan got a few snaps at safety.

5. Vince WIlfork Seems To Have Fully Recovered

Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

5. Vince WIlfork Seems To Have Fully Recovered

Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Wilfork tore his Achilles in Week 4 last season and missed the rest of the year. Wilfork has said the Achilles is an afterthought and that he has shed some weight. The weight loss is noticeable, and he doesn’t have plans to put the weight back on anytime. This should help lessen the wear and tear on his body.

4. Julian Edelman Will Probably Be the Team’s Leading Receiver Again

Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

4. Julian Edelman Will Probably Be the Team’s Leading Receiver Again

Patriots
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

This may not be a good thing for the Patriots if you look at the big picture, but Edelman (105 receptions in 2013) is the only truly reliable receiver the team has right now. If the Patriots are going to be successful, specifically on the offense, Edelman cannot be the go-to guy for Tom Brady. Other wide receivers need to step up and prove they can play well consistently.

3. The Wide Receivers Need To Improve

Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

3. The Wide Receivers Need To Improve

Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The only receiver to pull his weight in camp so far is Edelman. Josh Boyce has missed some time, Jeremy Gallon hasn’t set foot on the field, and Aaron Dobson’s return from foot surgery is taking longer than expected. In addition, Kenbrell Thompkins is not making the progress the Patriots need him to make, and Danny Amendola has been inconsistent as well. Brandon LaFell has had some moments, but he needs to continue to improve.

2. The Tight Ends Need to Improve

Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2. The Tight Ends Need to Improve

Patriots
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski did not participate in joint practices as he works to come back from a torn ACL. There is very little depth behind him, especially since Michael Hoomanawanui is hurt. Asa Watson and Justin Jones, both UDFA rookies, are getting a lot of reps, but they haven’t shown much to the coaching staff yet. D.J. Williams has been getting a lot of reps with the first unit, but he isn’t showing anything worthwhile either.

1. RB James White Has Been Impressive

Patriots
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

1. RB James White Has Been Impressive

Patriots
Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots' mentality was to use the rookie out of Wisconsin as a third-down option, but he quickly grabbed the attention of the coaching staff. He is getting a lot of work in both the passing and running game. Tom Brady has praised White for his worth ethic. Do not be surprised if White continues to get more playing time during the season.