Greetings from Foxboro: Eve of training camp

Greetings from Foxboro: Eve of training camp
July 23, 2014, 4:30 pm
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Greetings from Foxboro, MA! Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran and CSNNE's Mike Giardi check in from where the Patriots training camp action will take place starting Thursday.

We've been waiting for this day since the Patriots came up short against the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game, but we didn't know exactly what the team would look like then.

Now, we have a better idea. The Patriots bulked up on defense - especially the secondary, with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. They've got players like Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork returning from injuries as well. And please welcome first round pick Dominique Easley!

Julian Edelman is back in the slot. Rob Gronkowski is ready to go. Rookie QB Jimmy Garoppolo is the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year award (kidding).

So what are Giardi's expectations for camp? He's focusing on the defensive side of things.

"What I want to see is a team that's willing to get up the field," Giardi said. "I think there's too many guys on that team that are athletes that are capable of being unleashed. I think in years past you've seen them sort of sit back and make the quarterback dink and dunk, make him make eight or 10 throws to get down the field maybe he'll make that one mistake that leads to a field goal or a turnover.

"I think now when you have some of the toys that you have in [Darrelle] Revis, [Brandon] Browner, eventually Jamie Collins coming into his second year, Dont'a Hightower, Chandler Jones, let those guys go and get after it. I think Matt Patricia is probably saying the same thing as the defensive coordinator."

Curran agrees, but warns that camp will be big in getting that mindset in motion.

"I think it's important for this group to do that early on because Bill Belichick likes to install a base defense obviously and they will continue to do that," Curran said. "But I think trying to play to that, because we've heard Jerod Mayo over the years, we heard Dont'a Hightower in the spring say, 'I want to be an attacking football player.' Play to that strength. Get some of that enthusiasm instead of having the head coach or the defensive coordinator as really the soul of the defense."

Curran then asks Giardi to name two "bubble" players that he'll be on the watch for.

Giardi goes the wideout route and takes second-year wide receiver Josh Boyce. His reason? He's had a hard time staying healthy, and there are lot of slot guys on the team. Can he stay on the field?

Giardi's other guy is Ryan Mallett.

"Has to carve out a spot for himself," Giardi said. "Are you a backup quarterback? Are you someone that at the end of your deal this year says, 'Hey maybe he can be our starting quarterback going forward.' I think he needs to have a really good camp."

That's all for today, we'll write you back tomorrow with more details from the team's first day of action.