New England Patriots: Training Camp Battles to Watch

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Jun 17, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola (80) during mini camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

Originally the plan in 2013 was that free agent Danny Amendola would step in at the slot receiver position and replace Wes Welker. That worked for one game before Amendola was injured and missed multiple games and never got back into the swing of the offense. With tight end Rob Gronkowski already out injured, Julian Edelman stepped up and took over as the number one option in the passing game.

This training camp sees Edelman back after re-signing in the offseason with Amendola having to have a big season to justify his contract going forward. In addition, last year’s fourth-round draft pick Josh Boyce returns at full strength after injuries slowed him in his first season. Boyce can play inside or outside but with his size (five-foot-eleven and 203 pounds) and skills his best fit may be inside at the slot.

That also applies to free agent acquisition Brandon LaFell. LaFell primarily lined-up on the outside last season opposite Carolina’s Steve Smith, but in previous years he had played effectively in the slot. With second-year receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins manning the outside receiver position the big battle for playing time could be at the slot position.