Tom E. Curran examines the Linebacker position at the start of Camp.
This is becoming a deep and strong group. Mayo is the leader and he's coming off a 2011 season that saw him injured and backsliding some from the All-Pro status he earned in 2010 when he led the NFL in tackles. The light seemed to go on for Spikes at the end of 2011 but he still needs to show he's got full buy-in to the program. Hightower, the rookie first-rounder, will challenge Spikes for time next to Mayo but Hightower also has versatility he showed at Alabama that may make him an interesting weapon. Dane Fletcher is undersized to be an every-down backer but he's got promise as a coverage linebacker which is what Guyton was before he suddenly got stiff and slow. Carpenter has been trying to fulfill his potential as a former first-rounder and he may find a fit with New England. Tarpinian is an interesting young player who needed to bulk up, but he can hit and he gets to the ball. White and Koutouvides are almost entirely special teams guys. Cunningham has been a second-round bust to date. Mike Rivera figures to be a long shot to make the roster.
Andy Hart rates the linebackers on the roster.
Bobby Carpenter (7th year) – There is no question that Carpenter was a bust as a first-round pick of the Cowboys. He’s bounced around since. But he got a lot of reps this spring, and still has the versatility that made him an intriguing prospect coming out of Ohio State. He could probably play any of the three spots in the 4-3, but looked like he got a lot of run in the middle of sub schemes in OTAs and mini-camp. As veteran backup and special teams option, Carpenter may just have a nice role in 2012 in New England. Rating: BUY
Jermaine Cunningham (3rd year) – Cunningham played a lot with little to show for it as a rookie. Last year, with the team adding Mark Anderson and Andre Carter while moving to 4-3 fronts, Cunningham was a forgotten man. He didn’t really play and then landed on IR. Cunningham has really shown nothing to this point in his New England career and time could be running out for him to prove himself. Not a good sign that he was limited this spring, even if Belichick did throw some strong praise his way during a mini-camp press conference. Rating: SELL
Brandon Spikes (3rd year) – Spikes is an impact player when he’s on the field. He just can’t stay on the field. He brings an infectious energy and instinctive playmaking ability to the game. But even this spring Spikes was rehabbing from surgery. That said, I think he stays on the field for the bulk of 2012 and has a breakout season in the middle of the defense. Rating: BUY
- The New England Patriots signed exclusive rights free agent DL Kyle Love yesterday.
- Andy Hart gives stock ratings to each player in the linebacker position.
- Jeff Howe thinks the most interesting battle on the depth chart could be between Brady favorites Deion Branch and Jabar Gaffney.
- Jeff Howe details the head-to-head matchup between WRs Deion Branch and Jabar Gaffney.
- Mike Reiss notes that the Patriots are trying something new by filling out their training camp roster with veterans rather than rookies.
- Mike Reiss, Field Yates and Mike Rodak each make a bold prediction for Training Camp.
- Mike Rodak reports Logan Mankins is among six veteran players who will start Training Camp on the Active/PUP list. Rookie WR Jeremy Ebert is also on the list.
- Christopher Price takes a quick look at how each position shakes out at the start of camp: Running back/Fullback and Tight End.
- Shalise Manza Young posts a review of the Patriots Running backs and Offensive tackles heading into training camp.
- Mike Rodak wraps up his Bubble Watch series with an overview of where the roster stands, based on his projections.
- Hector Longo gives Bill Belichick's offseason all A's.
- Zuri Berry tells us which players he feels are in danger of being cut.
- Mike Reiss notes the Patriots have two open spots on their 90-man training camp roster, and ranks which positions could use an extra body.
- Obnoxious Boston Fan posts his Fan's Patriots season primer for 2012.
- Boston.com offers a fan's guide to training camp with facility map, directions and everything you need to know to attend.
Mike Reiss notes the Patriots have sent out their season tickets this week, and as usual, it is a neat design.
- Tom E. Curran notes Wes Welker will get an extension after all - at least with his hair.
- Shalise Manza Young NFL Notebook: Seven Patriots will start training camp on the active/physically unable to perform list; Kyle Love signed his exclusive-rights free agent tender; and more league news & notes.
- Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Preseason Power Rankings No. 2: New England Patriots.
- Ian Rapoport (NFL.com) Rob Gronkowski 'good to go' entering Patriots training camp.
- James Walker (ESPN) Bust watch: Pats DE Jermaine Cunningham.
- Gregg Rosenthal (NFL.com) Deion Branch, Donte' Stallworth vie for Patriots spot.
- Michael Lombardi (NFL.com) Pressing questions for all 32 teams entering training camp. "Can the Patriots get any production from their secondary...?"
- Dan Hanzus (NFL.com) Wes Welker's picture missing from Patriots tickets.
- Matt Bowen (Nat'l Football Post) For most rookies, special teams are the ticket.
- Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Bill O'Brien isn't coming back to the NFL.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Freeh report generated for Saints may never be published.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) NFL Coaches Association sues NFLPA.