What would it take for Patriots training camp to actually be interesting?

What would it take for Patriots training camp to actually be interesting?

You’ve spent more of this offseason debating 19-0 with your friends than you have debating who will emerge as the Patriots’ right tackle in camp. Know why? Because 19-0 is more interesting, and it’s realistic. What isn’t realistic is this training camp being particularly interesting. 

Like any year, training camp will serve a major purpose in preparing the Pats for the coming season. Roster locks will get up to game speed, while positional battles will lead to both jobs earned and spots lost. Yet everyone knows what the final result will be, barring disaster striking: The Patriots will be way better than everyone else, even more so than in previous seasons. 

Coming off another Super Bowl victory, Brady is as good as he’s ever been and he’s loaded with weapons at receiver, tight end and running back. The defense kept Dont’a Hightower and added Stephon Gilmore, David Harris and Kony Ealy. There isn’t a single hole on the roster, and the depth at key positions is strong. 

So what would actually need to happen over the next few weeks to move the needle? 

ANY SORT OF BRADY INJURY

Duh. Lots of “How does Garoppolo look?” talk with a dash of “Is Brissett really the future?” mixed in. Adam Schefter would go hard with the “and this is why they were NEVER going to trade Garoppolo” bars. 

ONE OF THE DRAFT PICKS IS A STUD 

The Patriots put out a graphic on Twitter after the draft with the caption, “4 trades, 4 picks and 1 restricted free agent. How the Patriots used their 2017 picks.” The graphic then assigned traded/surrendered draft picks to veterans Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dqayne Allen, Mike Gillislee and James O’Shaughnessy, with four actually drafted players sprinkled in. 

The graphic was fitting at the time, as the sentiment was that the Pats opted to spend their draft capital in the trade market and restricted free agency rather than actually selecting players. The fanbase was wholly OK with this, as it helped the Pats continue to strengthen their roster for another Super Bowl run. No rookies? No problem. 

Except there actually were those four rookies, including one in Derek Rivers who was viewed in the draft as having major sleeper potential at defensive end. 

If Rivers, fellow defensive end Deatrich Wise or offensive linemen Antonio Garcia and Conor McDermott hit, it will essentially be found money in the eyes of Pats fans. It will also further load up the Super Bowl favorites even more. 

CYRUS JONES DOES SOMETHING 

The Patriots don’t really need Cyrus Jones to be great. They can survive with Eric Rowe and Justin Coleman behind Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore. Yet they spent a second-round pick on Jones for a reason, even if that reason never really showed itself during a disastrous rookie year. 

Assuming Butler isn’t traded and Gilmore adjusts well, having Jones make strides would further bolster New England’s secondary while also giving the Pats an asset in the return game. It would also beg the question of how a player could be so bad one year and so good the next. 

MALCOLM BUTLER GETS TRADED

Dammit. Now I’ve got trades on the brain. 

JIMMY GAROPPOLO GETS TRADED

Need that Adam Schefter meltdown. Need it.  

2015 DION LEWIS RETURNS 

The Pats are going with quantity over quality in the backfield, but none of their running backs have shown the type of ceiling — particularly in the passing game — that Lewis has. Coming off two straight seasons that were marred by injury, the 26-year-old Lewis is in the last year of his contract and has potential replacements as teammates in James White and Rex Burkhead. His stock might be low now, but would anybody really be surprised if he stole his touches back? The real question, as always, will be how long he can stay healthy.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley explode in shootout win vs. 49ers

Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Todd Gurley ran for two TDs and caught another to help the Los Angeles Rams put up another big offensive performance with a 41-39 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.

The NFL's lowest-scoring team last year looks like a completely different outfit this season under first-year coach Sean McVay thanks to vastly improved play by Goff after a rough rookie season as the No. 1 overall pick.

The Rams (2-1) have also been helped by the additions of receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods and the play-calling of McVay as they have scored 107 points through three games. That's the second-most in franchise history, trailing only the 119 by "The Greatest Show on Turf" squad in 2000.

This win didn't come easy as the Rams nearly blew a 15-point lead, giving up two late touchdowns, fumbling a kickoff return and failing to recover an onside kick. But Los Angeles managed to stop a potential game-tying 2-point conversion and then used an offensive pass interference penalty against Trent Taylor and a fourth-down sack by Aaron Donald to stop the Niners after the onside kick.

The 49ers (0-3) scored five touchdowns after failing to get any the first two weeks but still came up short in part because a missed extra point by Robbie Gould forced them to try for 2 on their late touchdown.

This time it was a tired defense that hurt San Francisco. After facing 79 plays in a 12-9 loss at Seattle on Sunday, the 49ers appeared to run out of gas on the short week as Goff frequently had wide-open receivers, especially on third down.

All three of Goff's touchdown passes came on third down, including a 13-yard pass to Watkins early in the fourth quarter that gave Los Angeles a 41-26 lead.

The Rams needed all that offense on a night where Brian Hoyer threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score.

QUICK START: The Rams took just 12 seconds to get on the board as Nickell Robey-Coleman intercepted Hoyer on the first play from scrimmage and returned it to the 3-yard line. Gurley ran it in on the next play to give the Rams a 7-0 lead.

DROUGHT BUSTER: The 49ers came into the game without a touchdown on the season but broke through in the first quarter with some help from the Rams. After Blake Countess jumped offside on a punt, the Niners took advantage of the second opportunity and drove to score on Hoyer's 9-yard run 126:43 into the season. That was the longest it took a team to score its first TD since 2006 when both Tampa Bay (143:03) and Oakland (127:10) took more time.

FOURTH DOWN CALLS: Both teams drove to the opposing 1 on their opening drives of the second half with help from a Willie Mays-style basket catch by Watkins and a perfect toe drag on the sideline by San Francisco's Pierre Garcon. But the Rams opted to kick a short field goal, while the 49ers went for it and converted on Carlos Hyde's 1-yard run that cut Los Angeles' lead to 27-20. Hyde added a second 1-yard run on fourth down in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES: Rams S Lamarcus Joyner left the game in the first half with a hamstring injury. ... Los Angeles C John Sullivan injured his groin in the second half and Watkins and Tavon Austin left with concussions. ... 49ers S Jaquiski Tartt (concussion), FB Kyle Juszczyk (neck), DL Tank Carradine (ankle) and LB Brock Coyle (concussion) all left with injuries in the second half.

UP NEXT: The Rams travel to Dallas on Oct. 1. The 49ers visit Arizona.

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

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Boston Sports Tonight Podcast: Is there a blueprint to beat the Patriots?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST.

0:41 - Tom E. Curran breaks down the ‘blueprint’ to beat the Patriots and if the Texans have the talent to do it.

5:27 - Michael Holley and Kayce Smith discuss Kyrie Irving’s comments that he made on Early Edition about going back to Cleveland for the opening game. 

9:52 - We take a listen to what Malcolm Butler had to say about his role on the team and discuss how the cornerback keeps saying all the right things. 

15:18 - Michael McCann, Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated joins BST to talk about Aaron Hernandez’s brain found to have CTE and his family now suing the NFL and the Patriots.