We're breaking down the personnel and pecking order at each position as the Patriots prepare to open camp this week.
Tom Brady, Ryan Mallett, Jimmy Garoppolo
Brady comes into this training camp with something to prove in the eyes of many. After the Patriots drafted a quarterback in the second round, attention has been drawn to Brady's championship window and just how much time he has left as one of the game's best. Those looking closely for any slip will have to wait until the regular season, though. Training camp reps won't give us much of a look at two of the things for which Brady's been nit-picked -- how he handles pressure in the pocket and his deep-ball accuracy. In many ways the two go hand-in-hand, and the lack of contact he'll face means we won't get a good read on either until September. As always, we expect Brady will be as accurate as he is focused. That he has a year under his belt with receivers Danny Amendola, Kenbrell Thompkins, Josh Boyce and Aaron Dobson should help his timing to be on point early. We'll see what kind of chemistry he's able to develop with the only real new weapon he was given this offseason: Brandon LaFell.
Mallett will enter camp as the team's backup, but all eyes will be glued to Garoppolo. The rookie product of Eastern Illinois will spend camp adapting to the pro game -- no small task coming from an FCS college program. Can he adjust to the speed of the NFL? Will he be ready to change on the fly when his coaches call for it? Those things will take time, certainly. We expect he'll be accurate on the underneath routes, and he showed no fear of airing it out during OTAs and minicamp. But he'll be judged based on whether or not he can make the correct decisions based on the humanity flying around him. While some have Garoppolo tabbed as Brady's eventual replacement, it's more likely he'll be Mallett's successor. With a contract that expires after this season, it appears Mallett will remain in New England to serve as the backup in 2014 while Garoppolo red-shirts and waits his turn to be No. 2.