New England Patriots 2010 Training Camp: Top 10 Veterans on the Roster
Recently, there has been a lot of focus put on the rookies and second-year players in New England, with many saying the future success of the team relies on whether or not the two most recent draft classes can perform at a high enough level.
With all this focus being put on the younger players, it is quite easy to forget some of the better veterans of the roster. This slideshow will focus on the top-10 third-year-plus players that will be reporting to training camp this season for the Patriots.
P.S. That last sentence means no Logan Mankins, before anyone mentions it.
Hounourable Mention: Gary Guyton
The undrafted rookie has really impressed me since being in New England. Sure, not in the way a top-flight linebacker does, but in the way that an UDFA can get 119 tackles in his first two seasons, including 85 last season, where he started every game on the defence.
Guyton is never going to be a Pro Bowl linebacker, but he will always be on a roster fighting for playing time. I expect Guyton to fight tooth-and-nail for the a starting spot with Spikes and McKenzie.
10. Matt Light
Matt Light is one of the better offensive tackles in the league, even though he has shown some signs of decline in the last couple of years. Light missed five games last year due to injury, which could possibly hamper him again this year, given his age.
But before last season, Light hadn't missed a game since 2005.
Light will continue to protect the blind side for the rest of his career in New England, and will then relinquish his role to Sebastian Vollmer.
9. Stephen Neal
The former college wrestling champion really defied the odds by even making it onto a NFL football team, but to actually be a starter, and a very good one, at that, is simply amazing.
If it weren't for constant injuries, with Neal starting all 16 games only once in his career, Neal could be viewed as one of the top-10 guards in the NFL.
Expect Neal to have another good season, and hopefully he can stay healthy all season, because with Mankins gone, he will have more pressure to perform.
8. Ty Warren
Ty Warren had a disappointing season last year with just one sack all season. Warren will be looking to improve that stat as he tries to help the defensive line bounce back from losing Richard Seymour, who they are still missing.
Look for Warren to bounce back from one of his worst seasons in the NFL and have a good season on the line next to Vince Wilfork.
7. Leigh Bodden
Bodden had a great start to his Patriots career last season, leading the team in interceptions and taking one back to the house. Bodden did a great job in leading a very young secondary last year, and will look to carry on that role, as well as improving his own stats.
I don't feel Bodden will have to do as much this season, though, as players like Darius Butler and Pat Chung improve and step up their own games. Even with that, though, I expect Bodden to give it his all on every play.
6. Wes Welker
Welker would be higher on the list if he wasn't coming back from injury. Even after tearing his ACL in Week 17 last season, Welker is set to go for training camp from day one.
To me, at least, things are looking increasingly likely that Welker will be ready to suit-up for the Pats from Week One, though, whether or not he starts is another question.
Even with him not being 100 percent from day one, I expect another 100-reception, 1,000-plus-yard season, as Welker managed 123 receptions last season after only starting 13 games.
5. Brandon Meriweather
Meriweather has really stepped his game up recently and has become a Pro Bowl-level safety. He will look to improve yet again in the 2010 season and stake a claim that he is a top-five NFL safety.
I expect Meriweather to have another Pro Bowl year for New England as he helps the secondary improve.
4. Jerod Mayo
Mayo has had two 100-plus-tackle seasons in his two years in the league, and did it last year after starting only 12 games.
Mayo will be looked upon to step up as a leader for the defence this season, which may add a little more pressure on him, but I think he is well-equipped to handle those pressures and power on.
You should look for Mayo to lead the team in tackles and get another 100-plus-tackle season, and this year, he may look even better as he gets added help from Spikes and McKenzie.
3. Randy Moss
Moss was another to struggle with injuries last year, as well as many questioning his work ethic.
Despite all these worries, he managed to log 83 receptions for 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns. Moss may be underestimated this season, as the Patriots having many new weapons to take attention away from him.
With that in mind and Brady being another year removed from his injury, I expect Moss to have another big season for the Patriots.
2. Vince Wilfork
Wilfork is a centerpiece of the defence and is a key to much of the success the defence has had. That's why it was a key priority for the Pats organisation to sign him to a new deal during the offseason, which they did.
And hopefully he can have many more fruitful years in Foxborough.
Look for Wilfork to do what he does best, which is stuff the run and take up blockers to let the linebackers make plays.
1. Tom Brady
Many wondered whether or not Brady would hold out and try and force the Patriots into offering him a new contract sooner rather then later. It now looks as though they were simply rumours, and it is expected now that Brady will be at training camp from the start.
With Brady another year removed from his major injury and having recovered from his minor injuries he had last season, he should be fully healthy and ready to go. That is why I believe he will improve upon his stats from last season as he learns to love his new offensive weapons.