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.
- Erik Scalavino says Bill Belichick rewarded the team for its hard work this spring, with an early end to mini-camp.
- Paul Perillo notes TE coach George Godsey came in with Bill O'Brien but is committed to the Patriots and chose to remain in NE.
- Press Conference transcript: Bill Belichick (plus 11:10 min. video).
- Player Quotes from Thursday's mini-camp.
- Player Interviews: Ras-I Dowling (3.51 min.), Deion Branch (4.28 min.), Devin McCourty (2.53 min.) and Bobby Carpenter (4.49 min.)
- The Top 100: Players of 2012: No. 21 - Rob Gronkowski (6.33 min. video) and No. 25 - Wes Welker (3.19 min. video)
- Patriots Alumni to present $5,000 Mosi Tatupu Memorial Scholarship.
- Patriots Today - All smiles as mini-camp ends. (2.09 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Kraft talks Gronk extension. (1.49 min. video)
- PFW in Progress - The PFW crew recaps Patriots mini-camp and more. (2 hour program)
- Mike Reiss writes an interesting piece on how Bill Belichick's mind is always churning for new ideas to bring his players together.
- Greg A. Bedard reports the Patriots will enter the 2012 season with expectations set for a fourth Super Bowl title and Ras-I Dowling agrees with that attitude.
- Jeff Howe reports Ras-I Dowling is getting his swagger back.
- Field Yates sees LB Bobby Carpenter is getting noticed at minicamp.
- Rich Thompson says LB Bobby Carpenter is hoping his versatility will help win him a roster spot.
- Mike Reiss reports Devin McCourty is still working his way back to full health.
- Karen Guregian reports Brandon Lloyd is going all out to not only be where Brady wants him, but to also understand the dynamics behind it.
- Mary Paoletti thinks the pressure is on Devin McCourty to get back to rookie year form in 2012, but the young CB shrugs it off.
- Rich Levine elaborates on the unwritten rules of Bill Belichick.
- Mike Rodak shines the spotlight on the edge rushers on the Patriots roster.
- Mike Reiss provides some insight on 'the return of the fullback'.
- Mike Reiss posts the transcript of his weekly online chat. Lots of good perspective here.
- Boston.com posts a gallery of pics from the Patriots 2012 minicamp.
- Shalise Manza Young Patriots Notebook: Belichick sent the players home with instructions to maintain or improve their conditioning; Devin and Jason McCourty will address the new rookies at the rookie symposium later this month; Jake Ballard reported to Gillette Stadium Wednesday to move along on his rehab and "see how it goes."
- Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Players got the last day off from mini-camp; If the Saints' schedule won't allow them to participate in joint practices with the Patriots, Belichick may approach the Eagles, Bucs or Giants; Players will study their own notes during the break while the new playbooks are formatted in time for Training Camp; 3rd-round draft pick Jake Bequette agreed to a four-year deal.