If a fan were to follow New England's football team only through headlines and those who hollers through their radio, it's conceivable that they could have heard the names of just five patriots in the past five months: Tom Brady, Bill Belichick , Rob Gronkowski, Malcolm Butler and Julian Edelman. Maybe also Robert Kraft.
It has really been an offseason who goes with drama and endless speculation, but this week it's back to work in Foxborough, where the training camp starts Friday. Rookies have already arrived, while veterans mature on Wednesday, and among those reporting to Gillette Stadium, some will have been through this before and have not been a major part of the call during spring and summer, but whose achievements can make them a big one focus at some point in the fall.
Here are five potentially pivotal patriots who refuse this offseason, but return to the field with something to prove:
Dont A Hightower
There was a block to drop Marshawn Lynch just shy of the finish line one game before Malcolm Butler made his legendary interception. Then it was Matt Ryan's band bag that got the biggest comeback in football history. Hightower has decided in each Patriot's two recent Super Bowl victories a decision-making game in the heart of the New England defense.
Even though they forgot how much they missed such a game in February against the eagles, Stunder is reminders of what kind of player Hightower is and the game maker he may be. The issue as 201
In June, he acknowledged that he had taken an approach to rehab aimed at preventing future injuries, and the team is expected to end up at full speed when the training camp begins. His workload was limited during the minicamp. After playing the league's second worst defense a year ago, by football practitioners, the Patriots need not only Hightower back in the field of continuity and communication at the central line-backer level, but as a device that has been shot sometimes. They also need him to be the powerful tackler and The powerful defender he has shown to be when she is healthy. If he can contribute as a passport rusher off the edge, in one roll he was thrown more regularly a year ago, even better.
There is a chance that the greatest addition to Patriot's defense made during the offseason could simply bring Hightower back. But there's not much about it – maybe because people have become used to adapting to life without him.
Most of the chats on Pats offensive line have this offseason focused on the departure of left tackle Nate Solder or the decision to spend a first round on Isaiah Wynn, who has a shot to open the left-hand year. Consequently, much attention has not been paid to the fact on the other side, the patriots are set to return to a player named 2016 in a second team All-Pro.
Cannon injured his ankle in October ultimately settled on injured reserve after performing in just seven matches. It destroyed the first year of the five-year, $ 32.5 million extension in the middle of its breakout campaign, and thus it also leaves some lengthy questions about what kind of impact Cannon can do. The 2016 season marked the only time he started more than eight competitions, and it also contained significantly better and more consistent performance than he had during his first five professionals. If he really is an All-Pro, and about Wynns first round and drive back Sony Michel, indicators that Pats are planning to use the field play more this season, Cannon has the knowledge to play a big role as a paver. But if there is any remaining impact from an injury injury, or in 2016 it was a peak, New England could find itself more weakened in front of which there are already two critical spots in question.
Since returning to the patriots in 2014, Belichick has better utilized Chung's skill mode, thus playing the previous second round with an ability to cover tight ends and single wearers while helping to counter run. He is still listed as a security, but Chung spends so much time near the line of scrimmage. He is more of a hybrid between a defensive back and a linebacker – and given how Pats is being constructed, this season they will count on him to succeed in that role again. Unofficially, the depth chart depicts the patriots' basic defense to be a nickel look, with only two line-backers and Chung as one of three safeguards on the field. He also received a pay-off over the offseason, with the team more than doubling his 2018 salary in the process of extending his commitment by 2020.
Chung got it contract by matching career increases with nine passions and 67 tackles a season ago when he led an effort that footballers rated the patriots as NFL's eighth best defender of tight ends. Nevertheless, there were points in the after-seasons he seemed to struggle for – he was late to stop Jaguar's Marcedes Lewis from a touchdown catch in the AFC title game and he left 56 meters to try to cover the faster Nelson Agholor before leaving Super Bowl with head injury – and next month will be 10-year-old veteran 31. He has played 75 out of 76 possible games since returning to Foxborough, and all with a hard welcome of physical nature.
The patriots are already squeezed with the task of replacing cornerback Malcolm Butler, who has left for Tennessee. But they had time to plan for it. Should Chung pull down, or should these playoffs predict a little get lost, it's hard to see a reserve plan elsewhere on this roster.
One case could be that Flowers was the best defensive player of the patriots last season. Not bad, considering that he paid a $ 615,000 basic salary for his efforts and is in line to play this season under the rookie contract that promised him just over $ 2.8 million for four years of work. His taxpayer will of course change next year, and until then, it will be up to New England's brass to determine if he is worth the massive money thrown at the edge of rushers over football – or if Flowers is another quality defender Pats release taken when the price goes up.
Flowers are 24, and favorably rank the league level according to the degrees of Pro Football Focus. He gave him a "high quality" rating and credited him with 59 presses last season, 19th among edge hats, and placed him on No. 75 on his list of NFL's best players in 2017. There were four spots in front of Chandler Jones, who led the league in bags two years after being traded by Pats. And it was a long time before Viking Danielle Hunter, who did not make PFF's top 101, yet received an extension of $ 72 million (from $ 40 million) from Minnesota this summer after being seven sacks last season.
Flowers, meanwhile, he had 6.5 sacks in 2016. He has 13.5 in the last two regular seasons, which is nice, but he can also put him on some fence in his future in Foxborough . Patriots have had some hesitation in distinguishing themselves from more productive players, so if the Flower's number stays in this range this season, or if he does not pay special attention from opponents, New England can be happy to let someone else pay him. About the additions of Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton, Flowers will flourish into an edge presence that produces double-digit bags, it becomes much more difficult for Pats to treat him as just another cover in a rotary casting, especially with his Brian Flores
Officially is he still the team's linebacker's coach, but with Matt Patricia who has taken his head coaching job in Detroit, it will be Flores leading the gameday defense. He has been a part of Belichick's staff for a long time to have the institutional knowledge desired, and by not giving Flores the official title of defensive coordinator, there is a reasonable explanation that Belichick will pay attention to preparation and playcalling on it side of the ball so there does not seem to be much worry about the transition. But it is worth noting that these circumstances have not been particularly good for Pats in Belichick.
In the seasons when coaches born under Belichick have taken over their defense, with or without the title as coordinator, the device's game has originally fallen. When Patricia and Pepper Johnson (both Belichick disciples) took their thighs in 2010, the defense's ranking ranged from fifth to eighth in allowed points and 11th to 25th in yards allowed. The duo shared the task in 2011 also when the decline continued – to 15th point and 31th meter was given. The second example came in 2005, when Eric Mangini took over for Romeo Crennel. The team beat from others to 17 in points and ninth to 26 in laps. The only transition that went well was the move from Mangini to Dean Pees, internally promoted from linebackers coach, but had previously been a defensive coordinator and head coach at college level.
The others did not and neither did Flores, who worked for Pats since playing at Boston College. He was obviously prepared for this opportunity in recent seasons, and his appointment was no surprise. His players talk a lot about him and expect him to succeed, especially factoring in Belichick's wisdom. But as with a number of things surrounding this New England team, reality remains.