This slideshow is about what I think are some of the positives and negatives for Patriots fans going into their training camp which begins on July 29. I will give five negatives and five positives to keep things fair.
OK so let's go...
In the last regular season game of the year last year, Welker went down with a torn ACL and MCL. Even now, just a few weeks out from training camp, Welker can't compete in all of the training sessions.
There is still much doubt whether he can stay off the PUP list, which would keep him from playing until at least week seven. This could prove disastrous for the Patriots passing attack if Brady's favorite target is out.
Despite all the negative sides to the Welker situation there is a bright side. And that is because Welker's recovery seems to be going amazingly quickly. Welker surprised everyone when he participated in selected drills during the teams mini=camps.
With Welker managing to participate in mini-camps he could, depending on how it goes in training camp, escape the PUP list and be playing by the first few weeks of the season.
Tom Brady is no doubt the face of the franchise and key to all success in New England, and with this season being his last under his current contract the Patriots organization will need to sign him up if they want to see any trophies in their near future.
It isn't looking great so far, with negotiations yet to start and there apparently being a growing discontent between Brady and the Patriots. Hopefully the two can sort a deal out t keep Brady in Foxborough for the rest of his career.
Even with the looming contract situation there is good news around Brady. Brady is now well over a year removed from his ACL and MCL tears. This should mean that he is pretty close if not at 100 percent for the first time since the injury.
That isn't the only reason Brady should be even better though. As last season Brady played with a broken finger and three cracked ribs. With those now fully healed Brady could improve on his numbers from last year and lead the Patriots to the playoffs once again.
Another negative for the Patriots is the lack of a true No. 1 pass rushing threat. Banta-Cain got 10 sacks last season but there is doubt over whether he can re-create that success for a second season running.
There is also doubt over whether less experienced players such as Crable and Cunningham can adjust to the defense and play effectively quick enough to help the pass rush in actual games.
Patriots fans would love to see one or two of the OLBs have and excellent training camp.
One major positive for the Patriots is that apart from a few exceptional players, every player is going to have to fight for his roster spot as there is so much competition all over the roster.
Some of the fiercest roster battles will be at WR, DE, and OLB. Plus, there will of course be a lot more competition for the right to start during week one against the Bengals.
When a team loses the leadership of Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, and Richard Seymour in such a short period of time, it will leave a hole in terms of leadership no matter what you do.
Patriots fans will be looking for some player to step up as leaders during training camp to help fill in that hole. Look for players like Wilfork, Warren, Mayo, and Meriweather to try and step forward and lead the defense.
A few other leaders believe it or not could be rookies with a large percentage of the 12 drafted rookies being team captains for their college teams. One of the main hopes in terms of leadership is second round pick Brandon Spikes, who has already been taught how to run the defense from on the field during a game.
Another positive from the new batch of rookies is that they bring more competition for roster spots and a new breath of life into the team. Hopefully a rookie or two could become big time players for us in their rookie season.
Logan Mankins is the best offensive linesman on the Patriots roster and when he held out all the way through mini-camp it wasn't a good sign for the Patriots. When Mankins then failed to sign his tender and requested to be traded after rejecting a long-term contract which would of made him a top-five paid guard in the league it got even worse.
In my opinion the Patriots would be better off trying to get a trade for Mankins—hopefully for a first round pick—then giving him a Jahri Evans-like contract and then using their good offensive line depth to fill the hole.
Once training camp comes along, you know you are getting close to the new season with the start of camp just two weeks before the Patriots first preseason game against the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints on August 12.
After that, we will be less than a month away from the regular season premiere for the Patriots at home against the Bengals.