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New England Patriots: 5 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise After OTAs

Nick LantzCorrespondent IIJune 4, 2013

New England Patriots: 5 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise After OTAs

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    As we approach the final days of organized team activities, there have been quite a few surprises at the New England Patriots camp.

    Players have yet to practice in full pads, yet there are a number of players catching the attention of the coaching staff and media. Many Pats players will take on new and improved roles with so many new faces at key positions.

    There is still a long way to go before the season opener, but already, some players are starting the 2013 season on a good note. The Patriots have had to make some difficult cuts, but things are looking good with some players getting into a groove early.

    Here are five Patriots' players whose stock is on the rise through OTAs.

Danny Amendola

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    Expectations are very high for Danny Amendola as he works his way into the Patriots offense at the slot. So far, he has been impressive in the early days of OTAs.

    Amendola has shown off his quickness and route-running ability in practice. He has caught the attention of not only the media, but also players and coaches.

    The newly acquired slot receiver is making a good first impression on his team. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels praised Amendola for the impressive catches he has made and his work in receiver drills.

    Tight end Aaron Hernandez has also been impressed with the way Amendola has started off in Foxboro. Hernandez talked about his new teammate in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.

    "I think Danny is going to do a great job. He looks good so far this year. I think he’ll fill the role pretty well."

    Amendola has been strong, thus far, and has been one of the biggest stories from OTAs around the league. He has been quick and precise with his routes.

    With Rob Gronkowski out, Amendola has an even greater opportunity to immediately establish chemistry with Tom Brady.

Ras-I Dowling

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    It has been a difficult first two seasons in the NFL for Patriots cornerback Ras-I Dowling. Injuries have severely dampened his entrance to the league.

    Now, it seems as though Dowling may finally be healthy. He has been the most impressive defensive back, so far, through OTAs.

    Luke Hughes of NESN went as far as saying that Dowling looked like the best option at cornerback thus far. Hughes was impressed by the way Dowling has looked early on.

    From a pure spectator standpoint, Dowling looked like the best of the bunch. He appeared crisp in his backpedal, changed direction with supreme fluidity and even broke up a few of Tom Brady‘s passes along the sideline.

    What Hughes saw came after the team's first week of OTAs. ESPN's Mike Reiss analyzed Dowling's presence at last week's OTAs, equally praising the third-year cornerback.

    Reiss cited that Dowling made some impressive pass breakups and fared well in one-on-one coverage against rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson.

    What a huge lift it would be for the Patriots if Dowling finally overcomes his injury issues. He surely has the talent to make a difference for the Pats in coverage.

Jake Bequette

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    Probably the most surprising player for the Patriots, so far, has been defensive end Jake Bequette. After barely seeing any action last season, Bequette has been impressive in OTAs.

    According to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, Bequette has been running with the starting unit on defense on some occasions. Perhaps, Bequette is making his way up the depth chart.

    He only played in three games last season as a rookie, but Bequette could see an enhanced role this season.

    Taken in Round 3 of the 2012 NFL draft, the lengthy defensive end has the stuff to become a contributor on defense for the Pats. The team could certainly use another talented pass-rusher.

    The defensive line situation is intriguing, as the Pats could use either the 3-4 or 4-3. Bequette has a shot to get some playing time behind starters Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich.

Ryan Mallett

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    Ryan Mallett's name suddenly received a ton of attention surrounding this year's draft. Some consider Mallett to be the Patriots' best trade piece, while others see the quarterback as a potential replacement for the legendary Tom Brady.

    The Pats decided to hang on to their backup signal-caller, and, so far, he has looked good in OTAs. He has made some impressive passes with plenty of velocity behind them.

    It seems as though Mallett has changed up his delivery a bit. According to CSN New England, he seems to have gotten rid of much of the excess movement in his throwing motion.

    Additionally, Mallett stood out to ESPN's Mike Reiss, as he threw some fantastic passes with both velocity and accuracy at OTAs last week.

    It is unclear whether Mallett is good enough to be the next quarterback for the Patriots. For now, it is great to see Mallett off to a good start.

Leon Washington

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    Many fans were sad to see versatile running back Danny Woodhead go this offseason. However, that sadness should be turned to joy because of Leon Washington.

    Washington has been a stud as a return man, especially returning kickoffs, during his seven seasons in the league. He is also an effective receiver coming out of the backfield when needed.

    In OTAs, Washington has been very impressive showing off his quick burst of speed. With Julian Edelman in a walking boot, Washington has been the featured return man early on, according to Andy Hart of Patriots Football Weekly.

    While he has taken a large share of reps as a return man, Washington has also taken a fair amount of reps on offense. Shane Vereen will take on Woodhead's role this season, but Washington may be useful in the backfield occasionally as well.

    It is still early, but it seems as though the Patriots got exactly what they were asking for with Washington: a quick, versatile running back who excels on special teams.

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