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Two 2016 rookies with huge opportunities in camp due to injuries at their position

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Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots PUP list includes two of the top three receivers and guards. That could open the door for two rookies to get reps they weren't previously going to get. Bill Belichick always gives the first opportunity to veterans over rookies, but a rookie surprising the coaching staff in camp will change that decision. Belichick will ultimately put in what he thinks are his best 11 players on the field for a given situation. Whether that includes a rookie in the lineup, so be it.

WR Malcolm Mitchell: Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman are both on PUP, which gives opportunities for other receivers to shine. The Patriots signed Chris Hogan from the Bills, but with both players out there is an opportunity for Mitchell to make a first impression. Mitchell is more of an outside, possession receiver in comparison to both Edelman (combo inside/outside) and Amendola (slot). The X receiver position is an open competition although Hogan is the favorite to win the job based on how much the Patriots are paying him this year.

IOL Joe Thuney: With both 2nd year guards Shaq Mason (has since been activated) and Tre Jackson on the PUP list, the Patriots 3rd round pick has an opportunity to make a big first impression on the coaching staff. The Patriots have lauded his athleticism, football IQ, and toughness when they drafted him. Thuney started camp on the first team at one of the guard spots and I have big expectations on this guy. Thuney has experience on the interior and on the edge at North Carolina State, although he'll be asked to play on the interior. The Patriots worked out Thuney at center before the draft and to get the best 3 IOL on the field that may be where he winds up.