After the New England Patriots' cancelled their practice session yesterday, the book officially closed on the 2012 minicamp season. While it is hard to really judge where players stand on the roster because the practices are conducted in helmets and shorts, some players do tend to stand out at this stage in the limited opportunities available to get noticed. That being said, here are five Patriots who "stood out" in the 2012 minicamp season:
Brandon Lloyd, WR: Of all of the Patriots free agent signings, none came with as much hype than that of Brandon Lloyd, who signed a three year, $12 million deal with the team in March. While expectations were high for Lloyd, even just heading into OTA's and minicamp, he seemed to have made a quick transition to the Patriots and excel in every opportunity given to him. It's still very early to make any conclusions, but Lloyd looks like a really promising addition at this point. He could really be the team's answer as a deep threat.
Bobby Carpenter, LB: While Brandon Lloyd came in with a lot of expectations, Bobby Carpenter had very few heading into minicamp. Nonetheless, he's made a name for himself already, running with the first team defense in the 4-3 during 11 on 11 situational work. While many looked at Carpenter as a player who would be on the roster bubble when he first signed, if he keeps up the positive momentum, he could be a key player on the defense in 2012.
Three more players who "stood out" in minicamp after the jump!
Alfonzo Dennard, CB: Heading into minicamp, virtually everyone knew that rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was more talented than the seventh round tag would suggest. While he's still in the process of cleaning up his off-the-field issues, he proved during OTA's and minicamp that he is a physical, talented cornerback who could even compete for snaps as a rookie.
Justin Francis, DL: An undrafted rookie out of Rutgers, Francis caught some eyes during minicamp, and was even described by the Globe's Greg A. Bedard as the "Mr. Versatility" of the defensive line. During practice sessions, Francis has seen time as an interior rusher, defensive end, and has even stood up as a linebacker. Again, it's very early in the process, but Francis could push for a 53 man roster spot come training camp.
Shane Vereen, RB: After a rookie campaign in which his snap count was severely limited, it was hard to know what to expect from running back Shane Vereen, heading into his second season in the league. If minicamp was any indication, it appears that Vereen could be in line for an increased role in 2012. Vereen worked with the starters a lot, and could also be used as the team's primary third down back in 2012.