The New England Patriots will have a new look in 2010. No they didn’t change their uniforms, but some familiar names are no longer with the team. While the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins were making headlines by signing big name players such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Brandon Marshall, the Patriots were quietly retooling there roster.
Who is gone: The Patriots biggest loss this off-season was probably tight end Ben Watson who signed with the Cleveland Browns. Watson caught five touchdown passes in 2009. Another tight end Chris Baker was released along with corner back Shawn Springs and disappointing linebacker Adalius Thomas. Defensive End Jarvis Green left for the Denver Broncos.
Who is new: Veteran tight end Alge Crumpler was brought in to help the blocking game. New England brought in Damoine Lewis and Gerard Warren to help sure up the defense. The biggest name the Patriots brought in is wide receiver Torry Holt. There is no doubt that Holt’s best years are behind him, but he did have 51 receptions for 722 yards last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Holt makes a good third option in the passing game behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
Rookies: The Patriots had a total of 12 picks in the 2010 draft. Their first round pick tight end Devin McCourty will probably see plenty of playing time. Second round pick Rob Gronkowski will need to fill in the hole that has been left at the tight end position. Line backers Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spiked will also be on the field a lot on Sundays.
Two big questions: New England faces two huge questions with their roster even before the season starts. First, will Wes Welker be fully healthy and ready for opening day after off season ACL surgery. Welker is an important cog in the Patriots offensive attack and if he can’t go full speed they will have problems. Second, will left guard Logan Mankins be in camp. A restricted free agent, Mankins and the team have had talks about a contract extension, but nothing has panned out.
2010 outlook: New England needs to find it’s leaders on defense. With guys like Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison gone before the season started last year the defense looked lost at times. The offense should be fine especially the passing game. Tom Brady should be more comfortable playing on his surgically repaired knee after more than a year away from surgery. The running game still doesn’t blow you away, but it doesn’t need to. As long as the running back crorps can get some tough yards from time to time New England should be fine. The Patriots have a pretty tough schedule, but I think they can go 11-5. The problem is I don’t feel that will be good enough to win the division. I see an AFC wild card berth for the Patriots in 2010.
Mike Dussualt, The 2010 Patriots off-season timeline, patspulpit.com