Even though the New England Patriots' wide receivers are no longer the focal point of the team's passing attack, they remain a pivotal part of Tom Brady's passing attack. The receiver position in New England has undergone significant transition this season with the release of Tiquan Underwood and Chad Johnson to go along with the new acquisitions of Brandon Lloyd, Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth.
The fight for the remaining wide receiver spots is one of the most intense in training camp.Brandon Lloyd:
Lloyd is guaranteed his roster spot after signing with the Patriots to rejoin Josh MacDaniels after the pair excelled in Denver with the Broncos. Lloyd's fit in the offense is clear and he should quickly pick up the scheme as he is an intelligent, polished receiver.
Lloyd's crisp routes and assured hands should allow him to quickly forma bond with Tom Brady.Wes Welker:
There is absolutely nothing that Wes Welker can learn from training camp at this point. He has a great rapport with his quarterback and completely understands the system. He is long passed any development phase of his career and not fighting for his roster spot just yet. Just turning up is the most interesting part of Welker's camp. Jabar Gaffney:
As a former teammate of Tom Brady, Gaffney shouldn't take too long to adjust after signing with the team in the off-season. The system has slightly changed since Gaffney last played in Boston, the 2008 season, but he is a smart enough receiver that that shouldn't be an issue. Gaffney didn't have over 40 receptions in a single season when he was with the Patriots. He could easily eclipse that this year if he wins the third receiver job in training camp. After signing a two year deal in the off-season, he should be safe from any cuts before the beginning of the season. Deion Branch:
After being re-signed this off-season, Branch likely wasn't expecting to be facing so much competition for his place in training camp. The Patriots know what they get with Branch, essentially his future is out of his hands ahead of this season as the Patriots will only keep him if others cannot beat him out. Branch is a seasoned veteran who brings consistency but little potential for improvement or explosion. Donte Stallworth:
Since leaving the Patriots in 2008, after spending just one season with the team, Donte Stallworth has endured poor quarterback play and off-the-field adversity. He may be on the wrong side of 30 now, but he still has enough speed to scare defensive backs. Stallworth has all the ability to make the Patriots roster, but he will still need a strong camp after essentially being in the wilderness the past few seasons. Julian Edelman:
Edelman likely won't see many snaps on defense this year after being the utility man last season. Edelman should instead be focused on refining his game as he is the likely heir to Wes Welker. The now veteran receiver will be fighting for more playing time rather than his roster spot in training camp. His all around contributions to the team will see him stay on the roster into the regular season. Matthew Slater:
Slater was an all-pro on special teams last year. He will continue in that role during camp without seeing much time on offense. Jeremy Ebert:
Ebert was a seventh round draft pick of the Patriots this year. He is facing an uphill task in trying to crack the roster and hasn't got off to the best start after failing his physical. Britt Davis:
Davis is a 26 year old who featured in three games for the Denver Broncos last year. He has already been with the Jets and Broncos in his career. He is a long-shot to make the roster.Jesse Holley:
Holley was the winner of Michael Irvin's fourth and long television show that awarded a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys. Holley spent two seasons with the Cowboys and had seven receptions last year. His most famous one came against the 49ers for 77 yards.