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The Boston Globe

It's sure good to be the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots were the best in the league last year, and after a successful offseason they could be the first team in a decade to repeat. The roster is solid up and down the depth chart on both sides of the ball. But for all the hype, there are definitely still some kinks to iron out in training camp.

Who will provide depth on the interior O-line?
Offensive line struggles were the main reason the Patriots missed out on a trip to Super Bowl 50. And even though the interior of the line jelled down the stretch last year, it's still an extremely young group--the most experienced players at center and guard are each heading into their third NFL seasons. Have they proved they can get the job done before? Yes. But with that being said, if a starter goes down his replacement will likely be either a rookie or a second-year man. Not an ideal situation.

How will Elandon Roberts develop?
Elandon Roberts stepped into the spotlight after the Jamie Collins trade as an unproven rookie and largely impressed. He's got good instincts and proved adept at stuffing the run, but at times he showed his lack of experience on the field. While newly-signed veteran David Harris will probably supplant Roberts in the short term, the team needs him to continue to develop so he can take over the starting job. A Roberts/Dont'a Hightower combo at middle linebacker looks like New England's future. It's time for Roberts to make that vision a reality.

What's up with Cyrus Jones?
After drafting him with their first pick in the 2016 draft, the Pats had high concerns for corner Cyrus Jones. As part of the vaunted Alabama-New England pipeline, Jones was supposed to become New England's nickel corner and return man of the future. Bluntly put, that didn't happen. It's only his second year, but this could already be a make-or-break season for Jones--if he can't overcome his fumbling issues and master the playbook, he could be on his way out of New England sooner rather than later.

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Aidan Stenson 7/20/2017 01:12:00 PM Edit
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