By: Christine Roy
Every summer, before the start of the regular season, rookies and veterans alike fight for a spot on an NFL 53 man roster. From drills to walk-throughs, every player is searching for a way to stand out and show that they know their stuff. As we’ve seen in the past, it doesn’t take long for a player in the Patriots system to be weened out because they don’t know the playbook. This year, after some big offseason losses, the Pats clearly have their work cut out for them and this coaching staff has the difficult job of determining which players are up for the challenge.
Danny Amendola won’t be the only new Patriot making an impact this season.(FILE:USPresswire)
A few players many expect to make an impact offensively are Danny Amendola, aka the Wes Welker replacement, and Aaron Dobson, the high flying rookie from Marshall with solid hands. The Patriots have needed a receiver to stretch the field for them and if Dobson can continue to have a good camp, he could very well get the starting job. And with Amendola, the Patriots like to play that short pass game and make a slow, yet effective, drive downfield and that is where he fits in. It’s very easy to key players into certain roles before camp breaks but before you go setting your fantasy roster, here are a few offensive guys to keep an eye on:
Josh Boyce: The 5’11” rookie out of TCU poses an interesting option for the Patriots. Not the tallest guy on the field, they had him lining up with Amendola during practice. He gives the Patriots another option at that slot position and was getting some first team reps this week during training camp. The Pats are known for giving their rookies a chance and as long as Boyce can gain some of Tom Brady’s confidence, I suspect he will have an impact on the team this season.
Kenbrell Thompkins: An undrafted rookie out of Cincinnati, the 6’1″ wide receiver has had an outstanding camp. He has big hands and was also getting some first team reps. Not only is he playing with the offense during camp but he is also taking some reps on special teams with kickoff returns. Another option for Brady perhaps? With only two players on the current roster who’ve caught a pass from Brady, I’d say anybody he connects with during camp stands a real chance at becoming a target this season.
Leon Washington: Finally, the Patriots have a player who can specialize in the return game. It seems like it’s been years since there was any consistency at this position. Washington comes into his eighth season having split time between the New York Jets and the Seattle Seahawks. He’s returned 244 career kickoffs, 8 of which went the distance. He has tremendous speed and his height of only 5’8″ will benefit him when he’s trying to weave his way around defenders. The key will be staying healthy and keeping the ball moving forward. As long as there are no stutter steps or second guessing, his impact on the team this season will be widespread.
The loss of Welker and Danny Woodhead had a significant impact on the Patriots offense and seemed to leave the team with more questions than answers. However, with the fresh faces in camp, it’s now up to Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to create a dynamic plan that will utilize these new talents.
We saw a more balanced offense last season and with the parts they have right now, it seems like they’re headed in that direction again. The mix of veteran and rookie talent bodes well for the Pats and come September I think we’ll be surprised as to who is making the biggest impact offensively.