New England Patriots 2014 Training Camp Superlatives and Awards
As another training camp for the New England Patriots comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back and hand out some awards for those who did or didn’t stand out for the right or wrong reasons.
Undrafted Rookie Star: An undrafted rookie makes the team almost every year and this year certainly won’t be an exception due to the exceptional play of cornerback Malcolm Butler. Rarely did a practice or game pass where Butler wasn’t making plays on the ball. Butler is a near-lock to make the roster.
Biggest Surprise(s): The immediate return to health of Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski has been one of the nicest surprises of camp. Usually players coming off major injuries like a torn ACL or Achilles start out on the PUP list, but both of these major injury concerns appear to be on track for the season opener. Wilfork still shows great get-off and almost appears refreshed after the season off.
The NFL wants to score, score, score, eschewing defensive responsibilities in the name of weekly shootouts. Embarrass Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl, will you? Well, the NFL will just threaten to enforce the rules it put in place a decade ago when Manning was rendered useless in the playoffs by the New England Patriots. Make no mistake, this preseason flag-fest is partly aimed at making guys like Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers become record-setting monsters. The NFL insists it’s a safety issue. Please. What’s good for the fantasy roster is good for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. That’s just pathetic.
This is really getting bad and Wilbur makes a great point, ever since 2004 the NFL has slowly been making it harder and harder to actually play defense. So I guess the Pats are partially to blame?
I still have hope that things will calm down during the regular season and if a DB brushes his hand accidentally on a wide receiver downfield it won’t get a flag. But the NFL is really trying their best to kill the game. This is a football blog, and I love defense, and I don’t care one bit about fantasy, so if things continue down this path I might have to find a new line of blogging.
Here’s a final look at my Top 50 prospects that I think fit the Patriots. I think overall there’s good depth for the Patriots’ needs but it will be interesting to see what they prioritize and what shocking moves they make (because they definitely will take someone that leaves me saying “who?”
It’s odd that almost every mock draft has the Pats taking Dominique Easley or Rashede Hageman. There’s been reports in recent weeks that the Pats don’t even have Hageman on their board.
Who knows what’s true or not, but in my mind, Easley is the guy I want most. He’s everything I’ve been writing about wanting for the last four seasons. I really hope it happens and I’m glad to say I came to him on my own before all the hype started with him going to New England.
I’m very curious when they take a tight end. Something tells me it won’t be as high as some people think. I’d guess third round at the earliest.
I have really become enamored of DE Kareem Martin in the last couple weeks. He looks like a three-down DE in the Pats system to me and one who could be a real difference maker.
Allen Robinson is another wild card who I think is an excellent fit at wide receiver. Don’t think WR is a huge need, but I think if the timing was right they’d pounce on Robinson.
Lots of centers and guards that I like as well. I could see them take at least two of them.
Those are some of my final thoughts. My last mock draft will go up on B/R tomorrow morning and then we’ll be off. Tomorrow will also be packed with throwback Patriots draft videos to get everyone through the day.
And obviously there will be plenty of action here on the blog as the Pats’ picks start to roll in.
Without further ado, here’s the final Top 50 big board for 2014. We’re shooting for 50% this year!
1. Extend extra points: Move the line of scrimmage to the 25-yard line, which would make an extra point a 42- or 43-yard field goal, depending on the kicking unit’s spacial preference. Bill Belichick has often voiced his annoyance with how easy the extra point has become. Currently, the line of scrimmage is on the 2.
2. Raise goal posts: Extend the length of the goal posts by 5 feet. Remember, Vince Wilfork and the Patriots were heated during a 2012 regular-season loss to the Ravens, whose game-winning field goal appeared to cross directly over the goal post. The replacement officials determined the kick was not reviewable.
3. Add boundary cameras: Place fixed cameras on key boundary lines (end zone) for better views on instant replays.
4. Expand instant replay: Allow coaches to challenge all rulings except scoring plays, which are already automatically reviewable. As it stands, some random rules are not reviewable.
PatsPropaganda is written and edited by Mike Dussault, a card-carrying Belichickian. He has a soft spot for hard core X's and O's, and believes in "throw to score, run to win", low pad level, and touchdown celebrations that last two weeks.
He is a Patriots Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report, and his work has been featured on FoxSports.com, Yahoo Sports, and SI.com. He also co-hosts the weekly PatsPropaganda & Frenz Podcast with Bleacher Report's AFC East Editor Erik Frenz.
PatsPropaganda was TruFan.com/CSNNE's 2011 winner for Best Patriots Blog.
He can be contacted at PatsPropaganda [at] gmail.com
This blog is in no way affiliated with the NFL nor the New England Patriots.