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2008 Training Camp Preview: Quarterbacks and Running Backs

Here’s the schedule for the training camp previews:
Tuesday: Quarterbacks and Running backs
Wednesday: Special Teams and Coaching

Quarterbacks

Key Departures: None
Key Arrivals: Kevin O’Connell

Breakdown

In 2007, Tom Brady had the best season a quarterback has ever had in the NFL. He threw for 50 touchdowns and led an offense which set multiple records. He is still in his prime and took extra time off away from the game during the off-season. Instead of spending much of his time at Gillette working out, the two time Super Bowl MVP instead took some time off to spend with his new son and girlfriend.

He is back and looks very well rested in training camp. The Pats are taking it easy on his golden shoulder which should help him in the long run. Probably most importantly, he enters the season with a very good understanding of who he will be throwing to, unlike the last two seasons when it was up in the air entering camp.

Behind Brady sits Matt Cassell, who could be trade bait if the right deal comes along, Matt Gutierrez and third round pick Kevin O’Connell. Since we’ll never really see them on the field except for preseason games against second and third units, you tell me how good they are. Just keep praying No. 12 stays off the turf and on the field.

Final Analysis

Like Moss, Brady’s numbers in ’07 were just ridiculous, so it can be expected he’ll match them this year. I see him coming close however, throwing for 4,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. The Pats will run the ball a little more, but Brady will get his. It sure is special to see this guy do his thing.

Running backs

Key Departures: None
Key Arrivals: LaMont Jordan

Breakdown

Laurence Maroney looks poised to finally show the promise we’ve had for him as a first round pick. He was hampered by a shoulder injury for much of ’07 but came on strong in the playoffs. Now back fully healthy, he is ‘the man’ in the backfield and should rush for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career. He’s a bruiser baby.

Behind him it gets a little murky as there are multiple options at running back, full back, half back, every type of back! First there is Kevin Faulk, who will remain as the third down runner who can come out of the backfield and catch the ball. The Patriots welcome back to the fold Sammy Morris, who showed some strong running on 3rd and short and goal line situations in ’07 before getting hurt.

Just over the weekend the Patriots signed former Jets and Raiders RB LaMont Jordan. Jordan seems like a Kevin Faulk/Sammy Morris hybrid as he can carry the load at RB but also can catch the ball out of the back field. It’ll be interesting to see where he fits in and who gets the ball, but it’s a good problem to have. Behind those four runners sit fullbacks Heath Evans and Kyle Eckel, both of which can block well and pound the ball inside.

Final Analysis

In a crowded backfield, I see Maroney carrying the ball 20 times a game and reaching 1,000 yards. Jordan will show us why the Raiders were stupid for releasing him and Morris will help immensely on third and short. The Patriots love to go for it on fourth down, and these group of runners will help make those short conversions easier. A good, deep group of runningbacks is something the Patriots have lacked in the last few years

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