Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have never been afraid to buck conventional wisdom. Though that habit most frequently manifests itself through the team's approach to the draft and free agency, the same philosophy applies to decisions about the depth chart.
Since Lawyer Milloy's stunning release before the 2003 season, the Patriots have demonstrated a willingness to cut ties with any player not part of the long-term plan, regardless of track record. New England defies prognostication more than nearly any other franchise, and training camp performance will have the most significant impact on the team's position battles.
That being said, it would be foolish to suggest that a hierarchy does not exist headed into training camp. Most of the players on this list are not unknowns, so they carry expectations from both the coaching staff and fans.
The pre-camp hierarchy is bound to fluctuate as practices and games accrue. Still, it's beneficial to understand where things stand before evaluating competitions once camp begins. With that in mind, here's a look at the five training camp battles that will have the biggest impact on the Patriots' season, as well as the projected winner for each.