Competition at each position makes Patriots training camp very interesting

Ryan Hannable
July 29, 2019 - 7:40 am

FOXBORO — Football is a competitive sport and competition is really the only way to get better, both individually and as a team.

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Over the summer, without actual games internal competition may be the No. 1 way to improve and prepare for the regular season, and this year might the most we’ve seen in quite some time.

In fact, an argument can be made that there is legitimate competition for a roster spot at every single position.

“It goes to Coach Belichick putting together a good team, a good football team,” safety Duron Harmon said. “Him, obviously the scouting department with Nick (Caserio). Those guys working together to put together the best football team that they can and we have to go out there and not only earn our spots on the team, but our roles as well.”

Harmon added: “I mean, if you love the game of football you’re going to love competition. That is what drives all of us to come out here. We all want to be the best we can be at the position we play and to be the best we can for this football team. It makes this football team. It’s the reason why this football team continues to excel. Competition is what drives us.”

Perhaps the most competitive positions on the team are on offense with the wide receivers and tight ends.

At wide out, aside from Julian Edelman and first-round pick N’Keal Harry, no roster spots are guaranteed. Through four practices, it would seem like Phillip Dorsett and Maurice Harris should feel good about their chances and then it will come down to Braxton Berrios, Jakobi Meyers, Ryan Davis and potentially others for the final spots at the position. Meanwhile, Demaryius Thomas seems destined to start the year on PUP.

The biggest loss of the offseason was at tight end with Rob Gronkowski retiring, but not much was done to replace him. Benjamin Watson was the biggest acquisition, but with him suspended the first four games, anything can happen. Veteran Matt LaCosse feels like a good bet to make the team and then it will come down to Lance Kendricks, Stephen Anderson, Ryan Izzo and undrafted rookie Andrew Beck to grab the final spot.

Even at quarterback there’s some competition. If rookie Jarrett Stidham performs well these next few weeks, he could very easily push Brian Hoyer out of a roster spot. This doesn’t seem likely, but it certainly is in play.

Last but not least, there are small battles on the offensive line like who will earn the backup spots on the interior and at tackle, whether it’s Ted Karras, James Ferentz, Dan Skipper, or even others who emerge in the coming days.

Defensively, there aren’t as many wide open positions, but certainly a number of spots up for grabs.

On the defensive line, players like Keionta Davis and Derek Rivers need to show their worth. Linebacker is fairly set at the top of the depth chart, but players like Elandon Roberts, Christian Sam and UDFA Terez Hall may find themselves battling for the final spot at the position.

The backend of the defensive is pretty set, although it’s hard to see the team keeping more than five or six cornerbacks, so Duke Dawson, Joejuan Williams, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson and Keion Crossen are all competing for a spot. Safety may be in the best shape on the team, but Terrence Brooks is making a case to be more than just a special teams player and could battle Nate Ebner and maybe even Duron Harmon for a spot.

Heck, there’s even a competition at punter as fifth-rounder Jake Bailey is battling veteran Ryan Allen, who came back to the Patriots on a one-year deal. Bailey has a massive leg, but is fairly inconsistent. This should play out into the preseason games to see how Bailey reacts to game conditions.

By the looks of it, Bill Belichick will have some tough decisions to make when he has to together his initial 53-man roster, but while that may be a problem, it’s certainly a good one to have.

Related: N'Keal Harry learning a great deal from Troy Brown, Tom Brady