RECEIVERS: More questions than answers

RECEIVERS: More questions than answers
July 11, 2013, 10:45 am
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The Patriots are looking at a long list of wide receivers as they head into training camp, but who will stick around?

(AP Images)

Mary Paoletti will be previewing each Patriots position up until the start of camp in her daily "Roster Reset." Yesterday, she previewed the quarterbacks. Today, she takes a look at the receivers.

Returning: 
Julian Edelman - 5th season
Matthew Slater - 6th season
 
Incoming: 
Danny Amendola - 5th season
Michael Jenkins - 10th season
Lavelle Hawkins - 6th season
Aaron Dobson - Rookie
Josh Boyce - Rookie
Mark Harrison - Rookie
Kamar Aiken - 3rd season
Perez Ashford - Rookie
Quentin Sims - Rookie
Kenbrell Thompkins - Rookie
T.J. Moe - Rookie - Currently on IR (Achilles) 
 
News of note: Hell of a list. Wes Welker (1,085 snaps) has moved on to Denver. Brandon Lloyd (1,051 snaps) was released. Deion Branch (482 snaps) is still a free agent. New England's two returning receivers, Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater, played just 336 of the team's 1,240 offensive snaps last season. And let's break it down further: Edelman has caught just 69 passes in four years with the team. Slater's roster designation as a receiver is more a formality than anything; he is Pro Bowler, but a special teams Pro Bowler. 
 
Signing Danny Amendola away from St. Louis helps, providing he stays healthy. He caught 85 passes for 689 yards and three touchdowns in his last 16-game season, which happened in 2010. So far, so good. Amendola looked healthy and fresh during mini-camp. 
 
The Patriots brought in two other veteran free agents in Michael Jenkins and Lavelle Hawkins. Jenkins holds appeal just based on being the biggest in the bunch at 6-foot-4, 214 pounds. Rookie Aaron Dobson is close behind at 6-3, 200 pounds, but won't be bound in direct competition with Jenkins just because of size. They may both be fighting for the starting job at outside receiver. 
 
Dobson had 57 catches as a senior member of the Marshall Thundering Herd and is an intriguing NFL prospect. New England's poor reputation for developing young receivers isn't enough to keep a second-round pick off the roster, but his development is not guaranteed. Jenkins, with a decade of NFL experience on his resume, is good insurance.  
 
As the Patriots' fourth-round pick, Josh Boyce (5-11, 205 pounds) starts in a better position than undrafted rookie free agents Perez Ashford, Mark Harrison, Quentin Sims, and Kenbrell Thompkins. And Boyce will need whatever leg up he can manage as a foot injury kept him on the sidelines during mini-camp.  
 

Truly, there are more questions than answers in this position group. The Patriots will likely hack through half the list as the 53-man roster takes form, so the training camp battles will be fun to watch. How often do these story lines actually play out as predicted?