New England Patriots Links 6/15/12 - Minicamp About Teambuilding and Technique

Deion Branch believes Brandon Lloyd is the real deal.

Paul Kenyon notes there were plenty of positives to emerge from a hectic minicamp.

Steve Gregory looks to be the missing link at safety.

The safety spot opposite Patrick Chung was a weakness last season as the team rotated in Josh Barrett, James Ihedigbo and several others, capped by the move of Devin McCourty from cornerback.

There is every indication that Gregory, a six-year veteran with San Diego, is being groomed to take over that spot. Gregory has worked with the first unit almost exclusively in the OTAs and minicamp. He has earned praise from many corners. ...

The pass rush should be better.

The inability to put consistent pressure on the quarterback was another problem last season. While Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, the two leaders in that department, are gone, the team looks to have many more options in that department. The two rookies taken in the first round of the draft, Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower, look ready to help, and so does Jake Bequette, a third-round choice.

Two of the newcomers — Trevor Scott, formerly of Oakland; and Bobby Carpenter, most recently with Detroit — both are showing signs that they fit nicely into the multiple defensive scheme Belichick likes to use.

Assuming Brandon Spikes gets fully healthy, the Pats look to have all kinds of combinations Belichick can juggle to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

Brandon Lloyd looks like the real deal.

As conservative as the Patriots usually are in praising players before they perform on the field, the talk has been loud and clear how happy the team is to have a big-play threat on the outside.

"He’s got a unique skill set, so it’s going to take some time to get used to things that he does really well," Tom Brady said of Lloyd. "We haven’t had anyone quite like him, so (I have to) understand where he likes the ball placed and how he gets open. He’s a very good player. He’s got great ball skills and great body control. If you get it near him, he’s going to catch it."

The running game will be deeper and more explosive.

As dependable as BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been over the last several seasons, the running game overall has been average at best. One of the more interesting developments in training camp will be to see how the team uses its backs. Stevan Ridley, who had the team’s five longest runs from scrimmage last season, looks to be the favorite to get the bulk of the work if he can hang onto the ball.

Fellow second-year man Shane Vereen appears healthy and ready to help, too. Vereen looks to be out of much the same mold as Danny Woodhead and Kevin Faulk, only with more explosiveness.

The added ingredient is that Josh McDaniels, the offensive coordinator, wants to include fullback work, as well. The Pats really did not have a fullback last season. Belichick spoke Thursday about how Spencer Larsen, Tony Fiammetta and Eric Kettani all are being given a chance to show what they can do to add another ingredient to the offense.

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