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

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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.

New year, different circumstances, same approach for McDaniels

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New year, different circumstances, same approach for McDaniels

FOXBORO -- A year ago, the Patriots had a unique challenge: Fulfill Tom Brady’s desire to take every snap but also get Jimmy Garoppolo ready to run the team in Brady’s four-game absence.

This year, there’s no suspension looming. But Josh McDaniels still is tasked with getting Brady, Garoppolo and, yes, Jacoby Brissett ready for prime time.

“It’s the same every year for us,” said McDaniels a day before the first training camp practice. “We really didn’t change what we were doing in training camp last year.”

To quibble with the Pats successful offensive coordinator, there did appear to be a change, particularly with Brady’s usage during the preseason games. Perhaps the confluence of events in Brady’s personal life (mother’s illness) and that scissor mishap were driving forces, but bottom line is the program had to be altered. Still, the overall theme didn’t, and won’t again according to McDaniels.

“Everybody is going to get plenty of reps,” he said. “Fundamentals, techniques, all of the things that are basic to our success as we go through the course of the season, this is our opportunity to anchor those in our players so they’ll all three get plenty of reps . . . we’ll just let it play out.”

During OTAs and mini camp, Garoppolo spoke of competing to be the starter. Wishful thinking perhaps from the fourth-year pro, what with the GOAT firmly entrenched ahead of him on the depth chart, but it’s precisely that kind of attitude that is beneficial not only to the player but the entire roster.

“If you’re here, you’re responsible to try to push the people ahead of you so you can get out on the field and help us win,” said McDaneils. “I don’t think there’s a lot of deferring in any room, and that’s the great thing. That means we have a lot of competition and that’s the thing that makes everybody better. “

That competition started in the spring and will continue going forward to McDaniel’s satisfaction, or else. 

“They’ll be things I get mad at and will yell about,” he smiled.

Looking forward to it.

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Tom Brady better now than in 2007?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Tom Brady better now than in 2007?

0:41- How much is John Farrell to blame for David Price’s altercations with media members? Evan Drellich joins BST to discuss if the Red Sox manager needs to take more action against his players.

3:58 - Phil Perry joins Tom Curran and Kayce Smith to debate if Tom Brady is better now than he was 10 years ago in the 2007 season. 

10:06 - Kyle Draper joins BST to discuss the report that LeBron James is not happy with Kyrie Irving and ‘wants to kick his ass’ for asking out of Cleveland.

14:42 - How much does David Price dislike being in Boston? What are the chances he opts out of his contract in 2018? Evan Drellich, Tom Curran, Michael Holley, and Tom Giles break it down.