7 New England Patriots Who Must Step Up and Improve in 2012

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7 New England Patriots Who Must Step Up and Improve in 2012
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The New England Patriots went as far as they could go last year. Sure, a difference in the final score of the final game would have been nice, but the team couldn't have gone any further than the field of Lucas Oil Stadium, where they at least had a chance to earn that elusive Lombardi Trophy.

The Patriots should be an elite team again this year. Who knows? They could even go back.

But doing so would likely depend on some players improving their games.

Several Patriots will be under the microscope this season. Some are being looked to improve to help the team compete. Others will have to get better for their own personal sakes. Some still, at a position of need but unable to cash in on their own potential, are both.

For some of these players, that improvement is an expectation, and for some, it's merely a long shot. With all of them, however, there's hope. These players aren't lost causes. But the time to step up is upon them.

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