As we approach NFL training camp and the preseason I’ll be giving you a weekly look at the issues surrounding the Patriots. I will also be starting a weekly mailbag, answering your questions about all things Pats, just send me a question at email@example.com.
The big news in New England this week is we actually saw Tom Brady throwing a football on a field. After missing the first scheduled organized team activities, Brady is now back on the field throwing. It’s been a long many months waiting for details on Brady’s knee but all reports seem to indicate Brady will be ready to go at near full strength when the preseason starts. Peter King of SI sat down for Brady’s first extensive interview since the injury, and he had some interesting things so say. Check it out here.
Here’s some of the players and issues to watch in the next few weeks as we head towards another roller coaster NFL season:
- Young secondary: For years Patriots fans have been clambering for a younger, faster secondary. Well, this year the prayers have been answered. New England brought in two veteran players to fill some gaps in Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden, but most of the rest of the secondary will be filled by young corners. 2008 draft picks Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite will be looked upon to step up in their sophomore years for a more prominent role. With Rodney Harrison unlikely to return, it’s also time for Brandon Meriweather to step into his first round pick potential. Don’t forget about the return of Tank Williams, who missed all of last year with an injury.
- Crowded backfield: Never before in the history of the franchise have the Patriots had more options at running back. Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk, BenJarvis Green-Ellis and new addition Fred Taylor give Bill Belichick and the offense a plethora of quality backs which can be used in different roles. This is a big year for Maroney, who could Chad Jackson-himself right off the roster with a subpar season. Despite him claiming he had a broken shoulder last year, it’s time for this former first round pick to begin returning on the Patriots investment. We know what we will get out of Morris and Faulk, but Fred Taylor seems to be the wild card. Either way, this group combined with the rest of the offense gives us, on paper, a better potential attack than in 2007. Scary.
- Player to keep your eye on: Linebacker Shawn Crable – Though many local pundits are now joining me on this, I’d like to point out I was one of the first last year to point out how much potential this kid may have at outside linebacker. He missed all of last year with an injury but showed in limited preseason action how effectively he can use his size. With Julius Peppers, Ray Lewis, Jason Taylor or seemingly any other big name linebacker NOT coming to New England, it’s a perfect opportunity for the former Michigan Wolverine to step up and earn a starting role.
The Patriots have practice all this week, so get ready for all Brady, all the time on local news.
Tags: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Brandon Meriweather, Fred Taylor, Jonathan Wilhite, Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney, Leigh Bodden, Sammy Morris, Shawn Crable, Shawn Springs, Terrence Wheatley, Tom Brady