The New England Patriots are returning just one wide receiver to have caught a pass for the team last season, and that man is the oft-injured Julian Edelman. If he can stay healthy, then Edelman has a chance to have a breakout season. It seemed like Edelman finally figured things out in November, as he had two huge games against the Indianapolis Colts and New York Jets. In both of those games, Edelman showcased his improved long speed by making a few big plays, and it also seems like the Patriots have found a better way to utilize Edelman. He’s not a slot receiver meant for dinking-and-dunking, as his speed makes him better suited for a versatile role as a wide receiver where he can move around the offense and run different types of routes.
Edelman broke his hand early in the season and suffered a broken foot injury just when he was getting things figured out, so he was placed on the injured reserve. This offseason Edelman suffered a setback on his foot, and he will likely head into training camp hobbled. Health will always be a factor for Edelman, and we can only hope that luck will be on his side in the future. Largely due to the injury, some people don’t view Edelman as a lock for the 53-man roster. I would disagree with that, because he is talented, is the only truly experienced player in the offense at the position, and he is on a cheap, one-year deal that he signed in free agency (Edelman received very little interest, with the only other team showing interest being the New York Giants).
ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss stated in his mailbag that he thinks Julian Edelman will be the New England Patriots No. 2 receiver to start things out if healthy. While that is possible, I can only see it happening if Aaron Dobson flops in training camp and nobody else emerges as a viable “X” receiver. I would rather have Edelman as a No. 3 receiver playing in that versatile role, with Dobson as the “X” and Danny Amendola in the slot (either he or Edelman can play the “Z” in three-wide sets).
The New England Patriots have some enthralling competition at the running back position as well, with the battle between Brandon Bolden and incoming three-year RB LeGarrette Blount being the story to watch at the position. Blount comes in as a 1,000-yard rusher, but many believe that Bolden holds the advantage due to his youth and performance last year before being busted for PEDs. I like Bolden, but Blount is the more talented back; he just has to keep his head straight in order to make the roster. It is as even of a competition as there is, but I get the feeling that most people view Bolden as the favorite. However, I could definitely see the Patriots keeping both running backs and rolling with five RBs on the roster, since both players have a different skill-set (read this profile I did yesterday on Blount).
ESPN Boston’s Mike Rodak has given Brandon Bolden a 60% chance of making the New England Patriots roster, and that number is actually lower than the odds for Nate Ebner. That reflects really just how close of a battle it is between Bolden and Blount, as he gave Blount a 50% chance at making the roster. I guess it is fair to say that Blount is the underdog in this battle, but you can never rule out the Patriots keeping both.