It’s never too early to start fighting for a job in the NFL.
The New England Patriots began full-team on-field work Monday in their first day of organized team activities, which means roster battles have begun. The media will get their first look at OTAs on Thursday.
Here are the key competitions to monitor throughout OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason, as well as which players are involved.
LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, Donald Brown, D.J. Foster, Tyler Gaffney, Joey Iosefa, James White
Dion Lewis is a lock to make the Patriots’ 53-man roster, so the Patriots will need to sort through the above seven players and pick two or three to make the team. Feel free to press hard and pencil in Blount and Bolden for two slots.
DeAndre Carter, Aaron Dobson, Chris Harper, Devin Lucien, Keshawn Martin, Nate Washington
With Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell as roster locks, there’s likely only room for one of the other six receivers on the roster. Martin has the most guaranteed money left on his contract.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
Centers David Andrews and Bryan Stork; guards Chris Barker, Jonathan Cooper, Tre’ Jackson, Ted Karras, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney
The above nine players are fighting for three starting roles and what’s likely just five or six roster spots. Stork, Kline and Thuney have valuable versatility, which could give them an advantage.
Malcolm Brown, Alan Branch, Terrance Knighton, Vincent Valentine, Markus Kuhn, Frank Kearse, Anthony Johnson, Woodrow Hamilton, Joe Vellano
It safely can be assumed that Brown will be a starter in 2016, but the rest of the Patriots’ defensive tackles are fighting for the other first-string role. Branch and Knighton currently are the favorites. Only four or five defensive tackles likely will make the Patriots’ regular-season roster, so there will be competition for depth, too.
Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts, E.J. Biggers, Jonathan Jones, Cre’von LeBlanc, V’Angelo Bentley, Brock Vereen
Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Cyrus Jones are locks to make the roster, leaving the above seven players to fight for two or three roster spots. Coleman and Roberts have the early edge, but they’re not guaranteed spots.
Thumbnail photo via James Lang/USA TODAY Sports Images