New England Patriots Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IAugust 6, 2015

New England Patriots Training Camp: Week 1 Stock Report

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    Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

    The New England Patriots have opened training camp, which means the camp battles are already firmly under way.

    The Super Bowl champions were in the headlines all offseason with the developing news around DeflateGate and quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension, but there are many other issues facing this team headed into the 2015 season.

    Who will be the starting guards? How will the depth chart at cornerback finally shake out? Which wide receivers will be rounding out the bottom of the depth chart?

    We've started to get a glimpse into the answers to these questions, but there is some risk involved in minute-to-minute evaluations at training camp. Mainly, we risk getting caught up in the daily highs and lows, and missing the big picture of the totality of training camp. That being said, it doesn't hurt to check in after a healthy week of practice and see how these players are doing. 

Stock Up: Logan Ryan

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    We still don't have the full picture of what the Patriots secondary will look like in 2015, but the pieces to the puzzle appear to finally be connecting. We've started to see some more consistent groupings in the secondary, where certain players will appear on the field with other players to form a group of corners who complement each other's skill sets.

    Logan Ryan has been one of the more permanent fixtures in the top defensive grouping, playing primarily in the slot through the first week of practice. The Patriots are not inclined to have one guy play one spot all season long, particularly in the secondary; Bill Belichick likes mixing up his coverage and disguising things to keep quarterbacks guessing. But Ryan consistently in the top defensive unit should be seen as a positive.

    That being said, it should not be seen as a surprise. Ryan is one of only two cornerbacks on the roster (along with Malcolm Butler) who already has significant experience playing in the Patriots defense. 

Stock Down: Brian Tyms

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are entrenched as the top three receivers on the Patriots depth chart. The fourth spot, and everything else behind it, remains up for grabs. Between Brian Tyms, Aaron Dobson, Brandon Gibson and Josh Boyce, there are plenty of players vying for those final two spots on the roster. 

    But Tyms may be out of the picture. The fourth-year veteran was carted off the field at Tuesday's practice after suffering what appeared to be a right arm injury. 

    One of the most important qualities for a receiver on the Patriots roster is the ability to contribute on special teams in some way. Tyms found his way onto the field in kickoff and punt situations as a gunner, working opposite Matthew Slater in that role. Whoever is going to step up and take his place on the roster is going to have to also show some ability to be a factor in those situations. 

Stock Up: Malcolm Butler

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    Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    Very few players not named Tom Brady have ever entered training camp with as many eyeballs on them as Malcolm Butler. Instead of wilting under the pressure, Butler has used the increased spotlight to highlight his skills for a second straight year in training camp.

    It was this time last year when we first became familiar with Butler; the West Alabama rookie turned heads when the pads went on at training camp in 2014, showing some impressive man coverage ability, ball skills and the toughness to hang with a deep group of cornerbacks on the Patriots roster.

    One goal-line Super Bowl-winning interception later, Butler is now being expected to step up as a starting cornerback and leader of the secondary. Butler has chosen to lead by example, once again making plays nearly every day at practice. He had a pair of pass breakups in the first padded practice, another in the second padded practice and he had the first interception against Tom Brady all summer in Tuesday's session.

    If Butler can remain consistent—and everything we've seen from him to this point indicates that he will—the Patriots have found at least one of their two starting cornerbacks for the 2015 season. 

Stock Down: Ryan Wendell

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    Ryan Wendell (62, right) has been a starting offensive lineman for the Patriots for the past three seasons.
    Ryan Wendell (62, right) has been a starting offensive lineman for the Patriots for the past three seasons.Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

    A quick Google search of the phrase "you can't make the club in the tub" turns up a long list of people who have been attributed with that quote. More important than who it's attributed to is who it is in reference to.

    Ryan Wendell has yet to make his debut at Patriots practice this summer; the veteran lineman started off training camp on the active/non-football injury list. If he doesn't get back on the field soon, he could lose his starting spot. 

    The Patriots drafted Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason in the fourth round of April's draft. To this point in camp, the two rookies have been almost exclusively working with the first-team offensive line at the guard spots.

    Wendell's contract accounts for a $2.4 million cap hit in 2015, according to Over The Cap, but the Patriots could recoup nearly $2 million of that if they move on from him this summer. His versatility has been extremely valuable to the Patriots, though, so it may be worth the money to keep him in the fold as a backup in the event of an injury. 

Stock Up: Bryan Stork

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    The Patriots have questions at their two guard spots, but the center spot is locked down by Bryan Stork.

    The second-year Florida State product has shown up in a big way at training camp. He has turned away nearly every pass-rush attempt he has faced to this point in one-on-one pass-rush drills. 

    The coaching staff has lauded Stork for his workman-like attitude, which helped him win one of the team's offseason workout awards.

    "I like the fact that he keeps his head down and does his work," said offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. "If he was out there doing floor shows and being the class clown, I'd have some concerns."

    The Patriots offensive line got off to a turbulent start in 2014, but things settled down once Stork was inserted as the starting center on a weekly basis. His standout performance in training camp is an indication that Stork has yet to hit his peak. 

    Unless otherwise noted, all practice notes and quotes obtained firsthand.

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