With the NFL season quickly approaching here are five players on offense I am most interested in for the upcoming season.
Nate Solder, OT
After a solid rookie season Solder hopes to stay away from a sophomore slump. The young running backs and Brady will need him for the offense to run smoothly and to give Brady the time to find his new weapons. Solder could really take a huge leap in his development if he used his athleticism well and polishes his technique. This preseason he has had his ups and downs but that is bound to happen with any second year player in his first full preseason.
Brandon Lloyd, WR
Brady has his deep threat back and Lloyd could prove to be an invaluable weapon. This being said, Lloyd and Brady still must build up a connection. Brady tends to become attached to receivers and lock on to his go-to-guys but will Lloyd become one of these guys? We haven’t seen much of him this preseason but expect Lloyd to stretch defenses this season.
Stevan Ridley, RB
Ridley had a very solid rookie season, averaging 5 yards or more per carry, and he is now in position to be the number one back if he can build on this momentum. He is a strong downhill runner who runs between the tackles and should help to take pressure off of Brady. Everyone hopes he can make the leap to a solid NFL starter and provide the Patriots with another weapon in their arsenal.
Jeff Demps, RB
Demps’ Olympic speed makes your mouth water but in order to make an impact he will have to polish other aspects of his game. He must work on ball security and catching the ball. Demps acknowledges that he must get back into football shape and he will need to do that quickly after getting off to a late start. The Patriots could use him as a kick or punt returner to add a dynamic aspect to their special teams. The possibilities with Demps are endless but he could also end up being a non-factor.
Rob Gronkowski, TE
Gronk may be the Patriots greatest weapon but will teams learn how to shut him down and make him disappear? After coming off of his injury will he lose a step? I doubt Gronk will be affected by the injury and Aaron Hernandez should help make it even harder to shut Gronk down but you must consider these factors. Brady leans on Gronk so he must be as good as ever.