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State of the Patriots - Training Camp Preview
John Tuvey
July 27, 2009
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2009.
Team Menu
ARI ATL BAL BUF CAR CHI
CIN CLE DAL DEN DET GBP
HOU IND JAC KCC MIA MIN
NEP NOS NYG NYJ OAK PHI
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Training Camp Opens: July 26 (Rookie), July 29 (Veteran)
Head Coach: Bill Belichick (10th year)
Stadium: Gillette Stadium  Surface: FieldTurf
2009 Schedule   2009 Roster   2008 Statistics   2008 Record: 11-5

QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2006 58 99 0 528 327 62% 3594 11 25 12 11 7
2007 46 97 3 586 403 69% 4859 12.1 50 9 1 1
2008 76 264 2 533 338 63% 3792 11.2 21 11 10 12

Quarterback - Patriots fans have to be fired up about the return of Tom Brady, seeing as how he rewrote the record books the last time he played a full 16-game slate. But the bigger task for the Patriots might be developing a backup to replace Matt Cassel; Matt Gutierrez, Kevin O’Connell, and Brian Hoyer will contend for caddy duties. The hope, of course, is that whomever wins the role will remain shackled to a clipboard while Brady picks up where he left off.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2006 432 1818 4.2 20 114 89 78% 755 4 10 9 2
2007 399 1695 4.2 14 84 62 74% 583 1 12 13 11
2008 432 1988 4.6 19 108 81 75% 743 3 7 3 6

Running Backs - New England’s running game consistently ranks in the top third of the league; the problem, of course, is the revolving door of ballcarriers that drives fantasy owners crazy. That’s how it’s shaping up again this season, with Sammy Morris headlining a group that added Fred Taylor in the offseason and still includes Laurence Maroney, BenJarvis Green-Ellis, and third-down back Kevin Faulk. Maybe the herd will be thinned during training camp, but if last preseason was any indication—LaMont Jordan and LoMo led the team in preseason carries but ranked third and fifth among backs in the regular season—you’re looking at another season of playing “Guess What Bill Belichick Is Thinking.”

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 280 156 56% 1802 11.6 15 25 13
2007 429 292 68% 3814 13.1 39 1 1
2008 354 227 64% 2745 12.1 16 6 6

Wide Receivers - Add Joey Galloway to the Patriots’ collection of veteran receivers—as if Randy Moss and Wes Welker needed any help. With a healthy Brady there might just be enough balls to go around for all three; back in 2007, Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth combined for 82-1,146-8 even after Moss and Welker got theirs. New England’s depth—former Bill Sam Aiken and ex-Eagle Greg Lewis are also on the roster—should allow rookie Brandon Tate to develop at his own pace after suffering a knee injury last season. It’s not as if Moss and Welker will need more than a few reps to get back on the same page with Brady.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 143 81 57% 1039 12.8 6 3 11
2007 68 46 68% 468 10.2 8 27 9
2008 65 31 48% 302 9.7 2 30 27

Tight Ends
- There’s certainly no lack of talent here with Ben Watson, former Jet Chris Baker, ex-Buc Alex Smith, and Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. But since Moss and Welker arrived this offense has been all about the wideouts, ranking in the bottom six in the league in tight end yardage the past two seasons. In other words, there’s little reason from a fantasy perspective to pay much attention to which Patriot tight end is seeing the most playing time.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - All eyes will be on Brady’s return: How does he look? Can he step into his throws? What happens the first time his surgically-repaired knee takes a hit? Those questions are likely to be answered quickly (and in the affirmative), at which point the fantasy football collective can breathe a sigh of relief—and then turn its attention to the running back battle.

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Ease of Schedule for Receivers
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