The New England Patriots opened training camp without their top-five leading receivers from 2012, but that doesn't mean the offense is in the tank.
Beyond Amendola, though, the landscape is littered with question marks.
Although former New York Giants tight end Jake Ballard suddenly finds himself on the roster bubble, the Patriots do have a trio of intriguing young players pushing hard for increased roles. We discussed the promise of passing-down tailback Shane Vereen and undrafted rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld in Monday's Around The League Podcast.
As a potential "joker," Vereen has lined up in the backfield, out wide and in the slot. Local writers, as well as TheMMQB.com's Peter King and ESPN's Chris Mortensen, have reported that Vereen will be a major cog in this year's offense. It will be interesting to see if coordinator Josh McDaniels uses Vereen like a knight on a chess board to create mismatches and dictate defensive coverages, as the Patriots previously did with Aaron Hernandez.
Attending Tuesday's scrimmage, NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock compared Brady's "mind-boggling" ability to process information and get the ball out to watching Picasso work. Even with the valuable pieces missing from last year's NFL-leading offense, Mayock believes the Patriots won't see much off a drop-off because Brady remains "on top of his game."