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New England Patriots Links 6/22/10 - Throwback Jerseys Make A Comeback

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<em>With the spring camps behind them, players can relax a bit and shore up mentally and physically before Training Camp opens</em>.
With the spring camps behind them, players can relax a bit and shore up mentally and physically before Training Camp opens.

Andy Hart awards his top five stars from Mini-camp. Since it was no-contact, the linebackers and linemen will get some love after training camp and preseason action.

Fifth star – Rob Gronkowski. G-Force, as I like to call him, isn’t exactly tailor made for non-contact action. He’s probably best suited displaying his all-around tight end skills in padded work. But his soft hands, solid route running and reliability stood out. He may have gotten chewed out a bit a couple times, but they yell because they care. Right? I still think Gronkowski will be a huge contributor to the Patriots offense in a wide variety of ways as a rookie, and we saw the seeds of that in mini-camp.

Fourth star – Taylor Price. Despite missing a lot of work this spring while still at Ohio, Price looked good in mini-camp. Though I missed the first day of practice, my hard working fill-in Paul Perillo tells me Price hit the ground running. So far I’ve seen good speed, soft hands (despite a couple drops) and solid route running. The coaching staff praised his work while away from Foxborough. There is a lot of competition going on for roles at wide receiver and I think Price could be in the mix.

Third star – Aaron Hernandez. The rookie tight end was only a fourth-round pick, but his talents in shorts and helmets look to be much more than that. He’s a pass-catching presence with run-after-catch ability. His athleticism shines in non-contact work. We’ll see what happens when the pads go on, but Florida’s top target seems to be on track toward carving out a role for himself early on in New England.

Second star – Darius Butler. A lot could be expected of the second-year former second-round pick. My guess is he’ll be the opening day starter opposite Leigh Bodden. In camp he got his hands on a number of balls, made good breaks on the ball and looked comfortable in his role. He seems to have taken on a little bit more of a veteran air to him, good for a team looking for leadership and players who can be held accountable. I still say that Butler the athlete may have been a bit overrated coming out of UConn, while Butler the cover corner was underrated. He’s in line for a big Year 2 jump that could help this team immensely.

First star – Randy Moss. Physically Moss was as impressive as ever, making every reception look oh so soft and easy. But it was more than that. Moss was a vocal presence on the practice fields, single handedly raising the level of competition and camaraderie. A motivated Moss is a force that the NFL has never shown the ability to defend. Heading into a contract year and looking to maximize his marketing opportunities, Moss seems as motivated as ever. Patriots opponents should watch out!