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.

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Check out my sister’s account of attending the Patriots premiere this past Monday on behalf of the blog. I’m pretty jealous she got to meet a ton of the Pats and take a lot of pictures with them.

I’ll have an exciting promotional partnership to announce soon that will include a ton of awesome giveaways for my readers this season. This was just the first part of it!

Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Preseason Week 3 Edition

With the release of three veterans I thought would make the team in my earlier projections, some real estate has been opened up for even more of a youth movement than expected this season.

I still think there will be more additions, at least at tight end, maybe at defensive end as well. 

One big takeaway from the cuts of Will Smith, Tommy Kelly and James Anderson is that it looks like the Pats are truly ready to get away from using two space-eating defensive tackles, or really any resemblance to the 3-4 of old.

Kelly was irreplaceable in terms of the potential schematic flexibility he could give. Safe bet we now see a base nickel defense with a space-eater (Wilfork/Siliga) and a one-gapping DT (Jones/Vellano/Easley/Worthy).

QB (2) Brady, Garoppolo - I’ve taken Mallett off, I’ve seen enough of Garoppolo to think he would be okay and a much better fit if he got thrown into the fire as a rookie. Mallett has shown limited improvement and would require a full tweak of the offense.

RB (5) Ridley, Vereen, White, Develin, Bolden - Bolden slips on here, good versatile group even if there’s not a short-yardage ace. Mike Reiss speculated Ridley could be in trouble after a brief Game 3 appearance, I’m not ready to cut him yet, he’s still their most physical ball carrier.

WR (6) Edelman, Thompkins, Amendola, LaFell, Dobson, Slater - This seems like the group.

TE (2) Gronkowski, Hoomanawanui - Pencil in an addition here, I’ve even left them a roster spot.

C (2) Wendell, Stork - Maybe Stork develops over the season, but Wendell/Connolly starting makes the most sense.

G (3) Mankins, Connolly, Kline - Kline could see a lot of time this year as a swing backup, might even push Connolly back to center. Could also play some tight end.

T (4) Solder, Vollmer, Cannon, Fleming - athletic, versatile group that could see a touchdown catch this year playing tight end in jumbo goalline packages.

DE (4) Jones, Ninkovich, Buchanan, Moore - Not sold Moore isn’t headed to the PS, but for now this spot it his. Could go to a vet pickup. Is Buchanan ready to be a significant rotational DE? Huge question now that Smith is gone. Bequette still could sneak on because of lack of depth, but right now I think it’d be Moore.

DT (6) Wilfork, Easley, Jones, Siliga, Worthy, Vellano - Vellano and Worthy get a bump with Kelly/Smith gone.

LB(6) Hightower, Beauharnais, White, Mayo, Collins, Fleming - Morris and Davis go to the PS, while Fleming carves out a rotational role. Mayo/Collins don’t leave the field, Hightower rotates in a number of roles (Incl. pass rusher?).

CB (5) Revis, Arrington, Dennard, Butler, Ryan - deepest group in a while.

SS (2) Chung, Ebner - Chung expected to see time on early downs. Still wouldn’t mind keeping Tavon Wilson here considering Chung’s injury history.

FS (2) McCourty, Harmon - These two are the deep shell. McCourty won’t leave the field.

ST (3) Gostkowski, Allen, Aiken - Same as it ever was.

SUSPENDED - Browner, Tyms

Total players: 52 - (space for one external addition)
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(Low)lights: Patriots vs. Panthers 2013

This was a great game despite the results (i.e. the controversial finish). I try not to complain about losing a game on a non-call but this one was pretty blatant, as much as I love Kuechly as a player.

Should be a great test for the Pats tonight! But of course, most importantly, NO INJURIES!!!

New Patriots Pump-up Video mixes continue to pop up! I’m certainly not complaining, we’re just 17 days from the return of Pats football!!

Oh my damn, @CelticsPatriotsman is back at it with a new video!

NFL Films: 2013 New England Patriots Yearbook

Always a yearly must-watch. You know, if the NFL really wanted to make money, which of course is about all they want to do, they should package these yearbooks in DVD sets.

They’ve gotten it down to science - they can make a 1-15 team seem like they had one of the best years in the NFL, or maybe I’ve just been watching Patriots yearbooks for too long.

Pats Posits: Thoughts on a solid preseason showing vs. Eagles

The New England Patriots had a solid showing in their second preseason game of the 2014 summer as the roster battles continue to take shape. Here are some quick-hit thoughts on what stuck out to me.

- Brady is still Brady.

- Hard for a rookie quarterback to be much more impressive than Garoppolo has been in his first two starts. Yes, there’s still a ways for him to go, but his quick release and good decision making continue to shine. He’s an excellent fit for the Patriots’ offensive philosophy.

- All of the Pats’ running backs had their moments, and while I could see them using primarily a three-man rotation of Ridley-Vereen-White, Bolden, Finch and even Jonas Grey made cases for a roster spot with their skillsets.

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2014 New England Patriots Pump Up

Now this is how you start off a Monday! Thanks to @PatriotsSB49 for the find!