Just days into training camp, the Patriots already seem to be coming together. Well, a little bit.
After a sluggish beginning to training camp, which can be expected, the Patriots really picked up the intensity days two through five. The team started with individual drills and fundamentals, and has now moved onto full team and situational work.
With all of this in mind, I’m beginning to not only get a better picture of what our roster will be like, but who is out-playing who, who’s looking good, etc.
I’ll start off this mini-series by talking about some of the rookies. Jerod Mayo is a beast. He’s hitting hard, going all-out on every play. He has shown a strong ability to defend the run, but has looked incredible rushing the passer, and has looked just as good in pass coverage. He’s strong, quick, explosive, and never takes a play off. Here’s my guarantee: Jerod Mayo will make an impact this year. If you don’t believe me, just wait and see.
Terrence Wheatley has also looked really good so far. He hasn’t made many mistakes, and has taken advantage of his oppurtunities with Jason Webster out the last couple of days. He hasn’t made any big plays, but he hasn’t given up any either, and that, in essence, is a very good thing. Fellow rookie cornerback Jonathan Wilhite has also performed well. He’s gotten significant playing time as the slot corner, and has played well, and even shown good hands (which was a knock on him coming out of college).
The more I watch Shawn Crable, the more I think he’s going to be a really good player for the Patriots. He’s shown good moves and speed coming off the edge, and could factor in as a situational pass rusher his rookie season. Kevin O’Connell, on the other hand, likely won’t contribute his rookie year (unless you count garbage time). However, he has looked better than he did during Spring camps. He’s shown a quick release, and a better knowing of the system.
The rest of the rookies haven’t been too noticeable, but are noteworthy. Matt Slater has looked really good in the return game, bringing one back during special teams work. He also flashed some skill as a receiver, something I didn’t really expect. Bo Ruud, on the other hand, hasn’t shown anything, due to an injury that has prevented him from participating in training camp thus far. BenJarvus Green-Ellis started camp on PUP, but was off the next day. He hasn’t done anything to help himself, but he hasn’t done anything to hurt himself either, although he has struggled in pass protection. The two rookie free-agent linebackers, Vince Redd and Gary Guyton have both shown a little flash. Redd looked strong off the agent, and showed a big-hit ability. Meanwhile, Guyton showed the ability to drop back into coverage, even getting a pick-six during red zone work.