AFC East: Brady's back, TO's in Buffalo
The Canadian Press
7/24/2009 3:29:24 PM
----- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (11-5)
OPEN CAMP: July 30, Foxborough, Mass.
LAST YEAR: After QB Tom Brady was injured in the first quarter of the first game, the rest of the season became a tryout for Matt Cassel. The former backup led the Patriots to a tie for first place in the AFC East, winning the last four games by a combined 133-54. But New England lost the tiebreaker to Miami and missed the playoffs entirely -- the second team in the 31-year history of the 16-game schedule to miss the post-season at 11-5.
KEY CHANGES: Brady is back from surgery to repair ligaments in his left knee, and he is not expected to suffer from anything more than rust. New England added RB Fred Taylor, WR Joey Galloway and DB Shawn Springs -- all former first-round picks who provide veteran depth. Cassel parlayed his year of experience into the starting job in Kansas City.
CAMP NEEDS: The Patriots must have been confident Brady was healthy before trading Cassel to the Chiefs. If the two-time Super Bowl MVP gets hurt, inexperienced Kevin O'Connell or Matt Gutierrez will get the chance Cassel got last year.
EXPECTATIONS: The last time Brady was tossing passes to Randy Moss, the Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and Moss caught an NFL-record 23 of Brady's NFL-record 50 touchdown passes. If Brady is healthy, New England's absence from the playoffs should be short-lived.