Patriots Training Camp Assessment

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By the time Tom Brady retires, he'll have as many Super Bowl wins as anyone. And I think he takes ring No. 4 this year. Numerous training camp reports have indicated that New England's offense looks absolutely unstoppable. ESPN's Mike Reiss reports Brandon Lloyd and Brady look like they've been playing together for years, and the two seem to get along on a personal level as well, a great off-field factor that should contribute to on-field chemistry.

New England's biggest concern is Gronk shaking off rust, but Hernandez is picking up the slack with a monster camp. The Pats are even looking at him to return punts which isn't a move that I agree with seeing as at 6'2", Hernandez is taller than most PR's, and as a vital part of the offense, the high risk for special teams injuries is something that I'd rather leave to Julian Edelman (Sorry, Jules). Nevertheless, this shows the faith that the coaches have in his ability.

New England selected
Chandler Jones (Defensive End, Syracuse)
with the 21st overall pick in the
2011 NFL Draft
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On top of that, the front seven of the defense look to be the best in years. On the defensive line, Chandler Jones is getting after the QB as expected. Vince Wilfork is the same old Vince Wilfork. And some of the guys who haven't lived up to their college ability (Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick) are having very impressive training camps.

Our linebacker trio could be one of the best in the NFL as crazy as it seems to say that. But with an all pro player in Jerod Mayo at weak side, Brandon Spikes finally healthy, and Dont'a Hightower (6'3", 270) living up to and exceeding all the hype, we should be more than solid at that position.

The defensive backs however, are still shaky. Brady and the offense have reportedly been embarrassing them so far in camp. Now granted, I think New England could have the best offense to ever play the game. But it's a still a little unsettling, considering the fact that if it were not for the Green Bay Packers, New England would have had the worst pass defense ever this past year. I do think those numbers were inflated by opposing teams always having to play from behind, but there's no way around it: our secondary was atrocious.

Another unsettling factor is the offensive line. Brian Waters didn't report, Logan Mankins is out, and Sebastian Vollmer is out, so it's a patchwork group right now. But as a unit they've shown signs of improvement, so I'm not entirely too worried. Nate Solder looks to have a great year, and showed flashes of brilliance last year. Offensive Tackle Marcus Cannon could see playing time, possibly bumping to guard if necessary, though at 6'5" 360 pounds, he projects better as a tackle.

If the Patriots can sure up the offensive line, as well as improve in their secondary play, I don't see any team stopping Brady and the Pats in their quest for that long-awaited 4th ring.