New England Patriots Links 7/26/11 - Back In Action, Patriots Waste No Time

Labor peace or sign of the Apocalypse?

CSNNE reports players will return to Gillette Stadium today, but mandatory physicals and the conditioning run will take place Wed.

Starting Tuesday, Patriots players will return to Gillette Stadium to touch base with coaches and personnel. There won't be any physical work being done Tuesday, but more of a gathering of sorts.

Wednesday is when the players actually start to get down to business. Physicals will be done on Wednesday, and the annual conditioning run will take place. This will be the first test to see which players kept in shape during the lockout.

It's also closed to the media and the public.

[UPDATE: 11:12 am]

The first two days of the Patriots Training Camp schedule have been released:

Thursday
Practices - 9:30-11:30am and 3:30-5:30pm
Patriots Experience 11:00am - 4:00pm

Friday
Practices - 9:30-11:30am and 3:30-5:30pm
Patriots Experience 11:00am - 4:00pm

Tim Graham (ESPN) Patriots back-to-work FYI.

Readiness factor: The Patriots' organization might have the NFL's most established infrastructure. Players dutifully follow Bill Belichick's scripted, proven routines. Leadership from players such as Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Logan Mankins, Matt Light (if he returns) and Vince Wilfork will help the Patriots galvanize more speedily than most clubs.

Biggest challenge: The Patriots need to manufacture a pass rush. It will be interesting to see whether Belichick pursues assistance through free agency or sticks with the youngsters on his roster. The Patriots tied for 14th in sacks last season with 36. Starting outside linebackers Tully Banta-Cain, Rob Ninkovich and Jermaine Cunningham combined for just 10 sacks and 26 quarterback hits.

Backfield in motion: The Patriots had an entertaining tandem with BenJarvus Green-Ellis pounding out the carries (1,008 yards and 13 touchdowns) and Danny Woodhead electrifying fans as a combo runner-receiver (926 yards from scrimmage and six TDs) last season. But the rest of the backfield depth chart could be erased (see below), and the DanJarvus Green-Woodhead attack probably won't handle as much responsibility. The Patriots drafted running backs Shane Vereen and Stevan Ridley back-to-back in the second round.

Key players without contracts for 2011: Mankins' contract has expired, but the Patriots placed the franchise tag on him. Light, running backs Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris and Fred Taylor and safety Brandon McGowan are up in the air.

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