Predicting New England Patriots' Training-Camp Standouts | Bleacher Report – Bleacher Report
Stephan Savoia/Associated PressPatriots defensive tackle Malcom Brown (above) is one of several rookies who will get a chance to compete for a starting spot in his first year with the team.
Just because the New England Patriots were Super Bowl champions, does not mean they are without any questions or concerns headed into training camp.
Quite the contrary. If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. What’s better than winning the Super Bowl? Winning it again the very next year.
The Patriots are never ones to get that far ahead of themselves, though. You’ll never hear a peep out of Gillette Stadium about the prospects of the team hoisting its fifth Lombardi Trophy in the past 15 years to cap off the greatest run any head coach, quarterback, franchise or its owner have ever seen.
Besides, there’s still a whole summer’s worth of training-camp battles that need to take place before any of that happens. Through those battles, the Patriots hope to find the answers to the aforementioned questions.
These are some of the players who could provide those answers.
David Richard/Associated PressOutside linebacker Jabaal Sheard (97, middle) will find ways to make an impact in his first year with the Patriots.
The Patriots have needed depth at outside linebacker for years, and with the addition of veteran Jabaal Sheard, they may have found the perfect fit for their defense. In fact, they may have taken it a step too far—Sheard may not be depth at all, but instead, he may challenge for a starting spot.
The 6’3″, 260-pound edge defender has experience in a 3-4 and a 4-3 front, which will serve him well under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has been known to switch up schemes like “Macho Man” Randy Savage switched up ring attire. Sheard was more productive in a 4-3 (15.5 sacks from 2011-12) than he was as a linebacker in a 3-4 (7.5 sacks from 2013-14), but he at least has an understanding of his role in both schemes.
Sheard could be competing with Rob Ninkovich for starting duties in the defense. Ninkovich has played more snaps than any other defensive lineman in the NFL over the past two seasons, according to Pro Football Focus. If nothing else, Sheard will supplement Ninkovich’s snaps and could come onto the field in passing situations to rush the quarterback.
That being said, Sheard has …Read More