The start of the New England Patriots Training Camp is right around the corner, and while there are players expected to perform at a high level: Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis and the like, there are a few players who are primed to open some eyes.
Brandon Lafell hasn’t seen the field much in a Patriots uniform. But when he does finally get out there I expect him to have an impact. He’s a big guy, standing 6’2 and weighing 210lbs, and he can really run. A lot has been made about what kind of role he’ll be used in while on the field. Some experts speculate that he’ll be a move tight end seeing his how he has a similar build to Aaron Hernandez. Others, like myself, see him as a Swiss army knife player. I think Lafell will be all over the field and in every receiving position, including tight end. Most of his play came out of the slot, but then again, the Carolina Panthers aren’t the New England Patriots. The Patriots will put him where they need him and I see him inside a lot, but not solely in the slot.
Rookie Bryan Stork has already been opening eyes since he was drafted earlier this year. The Pats front office has been throwing everything at him and he seems to be soaking it in well. That being said, Stork probably won’t slow down going into camp or the start of the season. He more than likely will pass Ryan Wendell of the starting center job by the time the season starts. He’s going to be good, real good.
When Dominique Easley gets healthy he’s going to be a force in the middle of the D-line. Prior to his injuries, he was ranked as a top 10 draft pick. Do I like his already extensive injury history? No. But I do love his upside. I think most of his first year he will be a rotational player, but if he surprises in training camp and able to see the field earlier than Tommy Kelly or Big Vince, he will get plenty of reps and will probably ‘wow’ some people.
I seriously hope that Roy Finch or Stephen Houston impressing camp this year. While I don’t think either will be pushing for a starting role at running back, I would like to see at least one of them push Brandon Bolden out and scare Ridley and Vereen into staying on the field more. Finch runs like LeSean McCoy, he’s nimble and graceful coming out of his cuts and he makes a lot of people look really stupid as he jukes right by them. Houston is more like a battering ran, he’s not particularly great at any one faze of running the ball, but he’s efficient, big and runs the ball north and south. While I don’t think either will make final roster, especially if BenJarvis Green-Ellis is let go by the Bengals, I would like to see a serge of talent that can hang onto the ball and stay on the field a New England Patriots uniform.
There are many more players that could also stick out at people, Josh Boyce could be that break away burner the Patriots want, Dobson could come back from his foot injury and look like he never left; and Dustin Keller could actually be signed. There’s a lot to look forward to this year, and it starts at training camp. Let the position battles begin.