by Matt Soltysiak
Tom Brady went down in week one last year, as did most of the Patriots playoff hopes. New England didn’t make the postseason, but did finish 11-5 with a quarterback who’d never started an NFL. Not too bad at all. Matt Cassell is gone. Tom Brady is back. Other notables leaving Bean Town include Mike Vrabel, Junior Seau, Lamont Jordan and Deltha O’Neal. The Pats didn’t just discard players, they also brought a few in including defensive back Leigh Bodden. He struggled mightily last year, but could be a huge diamond in the rough for this team. The team also added Shawn Springs and running back Fred Taylor. The addition of Joey Galloway at wide receiver could make this the most dangerous throwing team in football, as long as Brady is fully recovered.
In the draft the Patriots used three second round picks on defense and one on the offensive line. Defensive back Patrick Chung is the player they get for dealing Matt Cassell to Kansas City. The Pats then took defensive tackle Ron Brace and cornerback Darius Butler. In the Third round New England grabbed a wide receiver and an outside linebacker.
What to watch for in training camp
The running back position feels like an open competition. Laurence Maroney was supposed to be the man last year after gaining 835 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2007, but he never took that step forward playing in only 3 games last year. Sammy Morris led the team in 2008 with 727 yards and 7 touchdowns. The ageless wonder Kevin Faulk managed 507 yards and an impressive 6.1 yards a carry. If healthy I’d expect Maroney to once again be the man, but watch out for 11-year veteran Fred Taylor to steal some carries.
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