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Here’s the schedule for the training camp previews:
Monday: Tight Ends and Wide Receivers
Tuesday: Quarterbacks and Runningbacks
Wednesday: Special Teams and Coaching
Key Departures: None
Key Arrivals: None
The defensive line is one group where there are very little question marks. In 2007, Vince Wilfork established himself as one of the top DTs in the NFL. Ty Warren followed up a huge 2006 (84 tackles, 7.5 sacks) with a less impressive but solid 2007 (53 tackles, four sacks) but still represents a good defensive end who will be enhanced by an upgraded outside linebacker behind him.
On the other side of the line comes the only real question mark, Richard Seymour (remember him?). It’s no secret that the last two seasons have been hugely disappointing for Seymour who grew into one of the best DEs in the league before ’06 and ’07. Hampered by a hurt arm and hurt leg in each of the last two seasons, Seymour now seems fully recovered and ready to regain his old form. The Patriots went undefeated in 2007 largely without Seymour, who missed the first seven games of the season and only registered 1.5 sacks in nine regular season games. For the first time since the ’05 season, Seymour was able to train in the offseason and participate in team activities. In the first few days of training camp, he looks slimmed down (dropped 10 pounds on a new offseason conditioning program) and agile on the field.
If Seymour can come back to 85-90% of his former self, it’ll be as if the Patriots added personnel on the line. Backing up the line are the usual suspects Jarvis Green (who would start on most teams), Mike Wright and LeKevin Smith. They each bring their own unique skills to the line, but the front three of Seymour, Wilfork and Warren will still see the majority of snaps.
It’s pretty simple. With Seymour back near full strength, Wilfork ever-improving and Warren becoming acclimated to receiving more attention, the Patriots will once again have the best defensive front three in the NFL.