New England Patriots: 4 position battles to watch in camp

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Danny Amendola
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Danny Amendola /
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FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 16: Danny Amendola
FOXBORO, MA – JANUARY 16: Danny Amendola /

Wide Receiver

Danny Amendola, Austin Carr, Andrew Hawkins, Cody Hollister, Devin Lucien

New England will enter the season with their best wide receiver group since 2010. Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman will operate as the team’s starting duo followed by Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. Together, the four receivers combined for 146 first down receptions in 2016, five short of the Los Angeles Rams’ season total of 151. The sixth wide receiver spot will belong to special teams ace Matthew Slater, leaving the fifth spot vacant.

The two leading contenders for the Patriots’ unfilled receiver slot are veterans, Danny Amendola and Andrew Hawkins. Last season, Amendola tallied 23 grabs for 243 yards and four touchdowns. Hawkins posted 33 catches for 324 yards, and three touchdown catches. Both receivers went unselected in the 2008 draft.

His experience in the Patriots’ system makes Amendola the favorite to earn New England’s open wide receiver spot. In 2016, on third down, he posted 11 first downs and two touchdowns, a good indication of Brady’s trust in him.

Factors still remain that could persuade the Patriots to move on from Amendola. In Monday’s ‘Pre-Camp 53-Man Roster Projection‘ one of those factors were discussed:

"“Second-year wideout Devin Lucien could make a push for a roster spot but the full house of pass catchers will reduce his odds. Lucien joined the team last season as a seventh-round draft pick but failed to make the roster and spent the year on the Pats’ practice squad. Like Foster, he’s put on a compelling performance in offseason workouts but Lucien will need to provide more value than Danny Amendola if he is to make the team. Amendola will be a free agent next offseason and his age suggests he hangs up the cleats for good. If Lucien continues to turn heads, the team should consider finding a way to hold on to him.”"

Another potential successor to Amendola is undrafted rookie Austin Carr, who led the Big Ten in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns catches as a senior.

Next: Patriots Pre-Camp 53-Man Roster Projection

Projected winner: Danny Amendola

Amendola is a clutch, versatile, and experienced wide receiver. As evidenced by his Super Bowl heroics, he’s a reliable target when his team needs it most.