The Patriots preached leadership at the end of the 2009 season and all throughout the offseason. They needed more of it, and they wanted to get better at it. While the team had a locker room full of quality guys, they were still trying to recoup after the departures of Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour.
The team's great leaders needed to be greater, and the leaders by example vowed to be more vocal. It should help them be more resilient in late-game situations and road games — two areas where they greatly lacked last season. Who are the Patriots' leaders in 2010, and how can they help the team?
The Cast: Tom Brady, Kevin Faulk, Wes Welker, Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo
These guys do it all, fitting every type of leadership category. They're the faces of the franchise. They lead the team in the locker room and on the field — both vocally and by example — and they provide results that lead to victories. They've established a reputation among their peers that demands respect, and they'd be ideal leaders on any team in the NFL.
The Cast: Randy Moss, Ty Warren, Stephen Neal, Matt Light, Nick Kaczur, Sam Aiken
You won't always see these six players get very rah-rah on the field — with the exception of Moss — but their greatest value comes behind closed doors. Moss is as respected as any player in the locker room for his free spirit and comedic styling. Aiken was the special teams captain in 2009 and coordinated meetings and film sessions on his own time, which was lauded by head coach Bill Belichick.
The Cast: Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Dan Koppen, Leigh Bodden
Meriweather, Sanders and Koppen are integral for their pre-snap reads and calls, and they've been trusted by the coaching staff and everyone on the field. Bodden said he wants to have more of an on-field presence because of his role as a starting cornerback and his increasingly important status due to the new contract.
The Cast: David Patten, Torry Holt, Alge Crumpler
All three were added this offseason, and while there's no guarantee all of them will earn a spot on the 53-man roster, their presence this summer is significant. Patten and Holt can help provide veteran leadership — how to run proper routes, pay attention to detail, be a professional off the field — to the handful of young wide receivers on the team. Crumpler can do the same for rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Patten, Holt and Crumpler have 33 combined years of NFL experience, and they brought sterling reputations to New England.
The Cast: Tyrone McKenzie, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton
It's probably not a coincidence that all three are linebackers — add Mayo's leadership to that, too — who have taken over for Bruschi, Vrabel and others. Take a look at Belichick's history, and you'll find leaders scattered throughout his linebacking corps — Lawrence Taylor, Carl Banks, Pepper Johnson, Roman Phifer and Bryan Cox. McKenzie and Spikes wouldn’t command a whole lot in 2010, but they're part of a group of linebackers who figure to make up the core of the team down the road.
NESN.com will answer one Patriots question every day until July 24
Thursday, July 22: Can Brandon Meriweather continue to take steps toward stardom?
Saturday, July 24: How will Tom Brady's contract situation affect the team?