Patriots 2013 training camp battles to watch

Many eyes will be fixed on Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson at the start of training camp this weekend at Gillette. Credit: Getty Images
Many eyes will be fixed on Patriots wide receiver Aaron Dobson at the start of training camp this weekend at Gillette. Credit: Getty Images

The Patriots begin training camp Thursday, with sessions open to fans starting Friday, and for the first time in a long time there will be heated battles for starting roles at several key positions. In other words, this year’s training camp is vitally important to New England, moreso than perhaps any other since Bill Belichick’s first summer guiding the franchise way back in 2000.

Here are a few positions to watch:

Receiver
Danny Amendola replaces Wes Welker and will undoubtedly get the starting nod in the slot. But on the outside, where will the Pats turn?

Gone is Brandon Lloyd, who racked up 911 yards in receiving last season. Rookie Aaron Dobson, out of Marshall, has excited many with his highlight-reel ability. TCU rookie Josh Boyce, 30-year-old veteran Michael Jenkins, 24-year-old free agent signee Kamar Aiken and fellow 24-year-old free agent signee Kenbrell Thompkins will compete for a job.

Tight end
Gone, of course, is Aaron Hernandez. Could Michael Hoomanawanui be the solution opposite Rob Gronkowski (when he eventually returns to form?). “The Hooman” filled in for Hernandez last year and played well when given the opportunity. He is a “Josh McDaniels guy” for what that’s worth, having played in St. Louis and he caught five balls last year from Tom Brady for 109 yards. The fifth round draft choice (2010) is still young at 25-years-old and offers Belichick the versatility he covets. Hoomanawanui can line up in the backfield, in the slot and can work as an in-motion tight end.

Jake Ballard has often been mentioned as someone who could fill in for Gronkowski given his similar frame, but the former Giants TE has looked somewhat slow in the short time he has been seen on the field this offseason. Many are high on Nevada rookie Zach Sudfeld and veteran Daniel Fells should also contribute. Rookie Brandon Ford and listed fullback James Develin could also see time at tight end in the preseason.


Defensive backs
Adrian Wilson was arguably the Patriots top signing this offseason and is expected to start at safety. But we’ve learned in the past that veteran signees in the defensive backfield are no certain thing for New England. Remember Leigh Bodden and Deltha O’Neal?

Tavon Wilson, Steve Gregory and Rutgers rookie Duron Harmon will battle Wilson for a starting job with Devin McCourty likely to be the other starting safety. Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, Ras-I Dowling, Logan Ryan will battle at the corners.

Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Grimm choice: Tax fraud trial could dog NY…

Rep. Michael Grimm may be splitting his time between the campaign trail and a courtroom where he is due to face tax evasion charges.

Local

Met Opera, unions extend talks for 72 hours,…

Met Opera agreed to extend negotiations with its labor unions for 72 hours, preventing a threatened lockout, the organization said late Thursday.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures August 2…

Summer Streets, the NYC Triathlon, the Ecuadorian Parade and festivals will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on 'Calvary' and his very…

Brendan Gleeson discusses how "Calvary" began over drinks and how his priest character is the opposite of the officer he played in "The Guard."

Movies

Interview: Chris O'Dowd does funny and serious in…

Chris O'Dowd talks about "Calvary," an Irish comedy-drama about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) under fire.

Movies

'Alive Inside' and 'Code Black' are documentaries with…

Two new documentaries — "Alive Inside" and "Code Black" — portray different issues but suffer from the same problem.

Music

Caught a Ghost catches a soul/rap vibe

Jesse Nolan says Caught a Ghost's sound aims for two things everybody likes: soul music and '90s rap.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…