Sunday is an off day for the Patriots as they prepare for their first preseason game on Friday. That makes it the perfect time to look back on some of the positive storylines coming out of training camp so far.
One of the biggest question marks heading into this season was how New England would try to overcome the loss of four of its five top receivers from last year. The other player on that list, tight end Rob Gronkowski, is still with the team, but he is on the physically unable to perform list, and a possible return date is unknown.
So that means Tom Brady will have to throw to a completely new group of receivers this year, and if training camp is any indication as to how they will perform, things might not turn out as bad as expected. Wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins and tight end Zach Sudfeld have all shown flashes of brilliance that outnumber the mistakes expected from rookies so far.
Brady will have some other options to throw to, though, including the returning Julian Edelman. The wide receiver broke his right foot against Miami on Dec. 2 and was unable to return to the field until Thursday at training camp. Edelman adds some experience to the receiving corps with his return, along with a familiarity with Brady that could come in handy.
But there are some other storylines involving the Patriots’ offense that don’t include the receivers. The most notable one may be the continued progression of running back Stevan Ridley. He is coming off of a season in which he ran for 1,200 yards. Since the receiving corps will most likely include some unproven rookies this season, Ridley can help take the pressure off the passing game if he is able to repeat the success he had last season.
Then there is the defensive side of the ball. Devin McCourty has played both at cornerback and safety during his career in New England, but it finally looks like he will be slotted in for good at safety, pending potential injury issues. His leadership at safety could go a long way in helping a defense that gave up 277 passing yards per game last year.