Three things to look for at New England Patriots training camp

Houston Texans v New England Patriots
Houston Texans v New England Patriots / Jim Rogash/GettyImages

Coming off a disappointing season there are several changes and things to look for come training camp. There have been staff changes, roster changes, and much more to give some optimism this season could be better than last season was.

1) Bill O'Brien

In most people's minds, the most notable change for the New England Patriots has been the addition of Bill O'Brien to the staff. Last season the offense looked unwatchable at times with former Patriots Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia, and former New York Giants head coach Joe Judge overseeing the offense. Both of these coaches had little to no experience on the offensive side of the ball. This decision to have them take the reigns of the offense in the middle of a young quarterback's development was questioned by many prior to the season and it proved to be a huge mistake.

O'Brien has a wealth of knowledge on the offensive side of the ball over the years. He was an offensive coordinator in New England in the past and served as a head coach for the Houston Texans for several years before his most recent stop as offensive coordinator at Alabama.

During camp, it will be interesting to see how different the offense looks under O'Brien's leadership. I expect there to be much more intricate passing schemes as well as an emphasis to create more explosive plays. Last season, the Patriots were middle of the pack in the league offensively for explosive plays and points per game.

2) Tyquan Thornton

The second-round draft pick is going to be looked at to make big strides from year one to year two. During action last season we saw flashes of potential from the former Baylor speedster, but health will be a huge factor in Thornton's success in New England. Last year Thornton had 22 catches for 247 yards in his 12 games played and minimum opportunities.

According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, during OTA's Thornton was heavily involved and targeted. The second-year pro did miss minicamp to manage an injury though, so it should be interesting to see how he bounces back for training camp in July.

3) Cornerback Two

With the recent news on Jack Jones, and the uncertainty surrounding that situation, it will be interesting to see who the Patriots will have step into that role. This is a situation we could see solving itself if the front office decides to bring in a veteran corner from free agency. Possible options on the free agent market include Marcus Peters, Ronald Darby, or Byron Jones to name a few.

As far as options on the roster currently the list seems limited. Jalen Mills has been taking reps at safety and it seems like he is intending to make the move full-time to safety this season. Marcus Jones who is another second-year pro is probably destined for the slot due to his size limitations. It would appear the likely option will be this year's first-round selection Christian Gonzalez opposite Jonathan Jones.

Even if the Jack Jones situation didn't occur, Gonzalez could have earned the starting outside corner role. Gonzalez is a fast, rangy corner who played at an elite level in the PAC 12 for Oregon last season. By many draft experts Gonzalez was the best or second-best cornerback prospect coming out of the draft this year.