Camp questions: Who will be the breakout Patriot?

Camp questions: Who will be the breakout Patriot?
July 19, 2014, 10:30 am
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From now until the start of training camp, Tom E. Curran will pose -- and answer -- questions facing the Patriots. Today's question:

Who will be the breakout Patriot?

There are plenty of candidates for this because - in mid-summer - hope springs.

Defensively, Dont'a Hightower can pick up where he left off at the end of the season instead of spinning his wheels as he did in the middle. Or Chandler Jones can have a Jason Pierre-Paul kind of season. Or Jamie Collins, a player who's actually been overloaded with unreasonably high praise for a snapshot of very good play, may actually play to the expectations.

But the breakout I'm seeing is going to come from the oft-broken Danny Amendola. We're all well-versed in the injury-prone rep he brought to Boston and the fact he backed that rep up in a hurry. Why will this year be different? Conditioning. Amendola's problems in 2013 emanated from a non-contact injury. A groin pull in camp. The pull became a tear. The tear on one side led to one on the other.

Know a couple of other guys who used to be brittle like that? Wes Welker and Julian Edelman. Both players - Edelman in particular - benefited from spending less time on building muscle through crunches and core work and spent more time working on flexibility, stability and being completely balanced on both sides.

Strength imbalances between the right and left side lead to heavier loads being put on muscles. And that leads to injury. Alex Guerrero, who has been Tom Brady's body coach for several years, helped Edelman get unbound. I'd be surprised if he doesn't help Amendola as well. After that, the numbers will take care of themselves.