New England Patriots: Top Position Battles on Defense Heading into Training Camp

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Feb 1, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots strong safety Malcolm Butler (21) intercepts a pass intended for Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette (83) in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As training camp approaches for the New England Patriots it is time to preview some of the position battles which should be among the highlights of July and August in Foxboro, MA. Despite coming off a Super Bowl championship season, there are numerous battles on both sides of the ball that will be determined throughout camp and the preseason games.


Starting with the defense, there is a free for all at the cornerback position after the Patriots opted not to pick-up the options or outright released their top four cornerbacks on the depth chart. At strong safety, incumbent Patrick Chung faces competition from 2015 second round draft pick Jordan Richards and a last gasp attempt to start by 2012 second round draft pick Tavon Wilson.


Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (84) is tackled by New England Patriots outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas (52) and defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) in the second quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

At linebacker, the Patriots let midseason acquisition Jonathan Casillas leave in free agency to sign a three year deal with the New York Giants and drafted Matthew Wells in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Wells will battle veteran Dane Fletcher who left last year in free agency to sign in Tampa Bay is back in New England to reclaim his role as coverage linebacker.


On the defensive line, New England brought in free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard from Cleveland to push veteran Rob Ninkovich and spell Chandler Jones to keep him fresh and healthy. In addition, the Patriots added the athletic Geneo Grissom in the third round and all-around impressive prospect Trey Flowers in the fourth round. Suddenly, a position that looked short on depth with midseason find Akeem Ayers cashing in with a big contract in free agency from the St. Louis Rams.

Next: Position Battle #1: Cornerback