New England Patriots
The New England Patriots have been a sign of dominance over the years. Yet their 2020 training camp looks like anything but that. (Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

New England Patriots 2020 Training Camp Preview

The New England Patriots have been the definition of dominance in the early 2000s and late 2010s, with a stretch of playoff exits in the middle. Now with no Brady, no Gronk, a broken down Edelman, there are multiple questions. Can Cam Newton replace Brady? What will Belichick do with multiple players opting out? Can the Patriots win the division? Is Stidham the guy? Let’s take a look at where the team is as training camp is underway.

3 Position Battles to Watch for the New England Patriots:

Quarterback: Jarrett Stidham, Cam Newton

No secret here, Brady’s replacement is by far the most important battle in training camp for the New England Patriots. Jarrett Stidham was solid in the 2019 preseason, but threw 4 passes in the regular season and one was a touchdown, for the other team. Stidham has yet to prove that he can actually play in the NFL. We can say all we want about him learning under Brady but nothing will be proven until he actually plays in a game. As for Cam Newton, the last time we saw him play was not promising. Yes he injured his foot in the preseason, but since getting drilled by TJ Watt in 2018, Newton hasn’t been the same. Cam Newton has never been able to recapture his MVP form and it’s hard to tell if he will be able to at age 31. I’ve always been saying we need to look at Cam Newton’s career length as a running back instead of a quarterback. Newton’s play style as a mobile quarterback that looks for contact simply means he can’t play until he’s 40. He plays a physical brand of football and while it’s fun to watch, it’s simply not sustainable.

Right Tackle: Korey Cunningham, Justin Herron

Marcus Cannon has opted out of the 2020 season, which means right tackle is a major hole now. The two replacements are Korey Cunningham and Justin Herron. Cunningham was a 7th round pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2018 NFL Draft. He played college football at Cincinnati. His first start was against the Raiders in 2018 and was traded to the New England Patriots in 2019 for a 6th round pick. Justin Herron is a rookie who the New England Patriots took in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Herron played college football at Wake Forest. Overall it’s 2 unproven players who will be fighting for right tackle, given that there’s no preseason I’d expect them to split starts early on.

Inside Linebacker: Cassh Maluia, Terez Hall, De’Jon Harris

Dont’a Hightower is the most notable New England Patriots player to opt out of the 2020 season. Now, it’s time to find his replacement. Cassh Maluia is a 6th round rookie out of Wyoming. Maluia finished his senior season with 61 tackles, 7 TFLs, half a sack and 2 interceptions. Terez Hall is a second year player who was a UDFA from the 2019 draft class. He played college football at Missouri and spent 2019 on the practice squad. He finished his senior year with 71 tackles, 9 TFLS, 5 sacks and 1 interception. The final option is De’Jon Harris. Harris is a UDFA who signed with the Patriots, he played college football at Arkansas. In his senior year he had 101 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 1 sack and 2 forced fumbles. Dont’a Hightower has left big shoes to fill and once again, young and unproven guys have their chance. I’d expect to see a rotation early on in the season until it’s clear as to who can play.

Ready To Breakout: Chase Winovich

As a rookie in 2019, Chase Winovich had 26 tackles and 5.5 sacks. He only played in 291 defensive snaps for the Patriots, that’s only 28.87%. He’s currently listed as the starting weakside linebacker according to espn. Winovich has produced well for the small amount of defensive snaps he’s given.

Rookie To Watch: Devin Asiasi

Tight end has been a question mark for the New England Patriots for a couple years. Devin Asiasi was a 3rd round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, he played college football at UCLA. In 2019, Asiasi had 44 catches for 641 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s currently their number one tight end on their depth chart and the Patriots’ offense needs weapons. A broken down Julian Edelman won’t go very far, Asiasi will be crucial to the success of the Patriots.

Fantasy Sleeper: Justin Rohrwasser

Justin Rohrwasser is a rookie kicker for the Patriots and is the only kicker they have on their roster. The New England Patritos are a team that will struggle in the redzone, leaving multiple field goals on the table for Rohrwasser. Kickers are often over looked in fantasy football and rookie kickers are almost never talked about, especially on crappy teams. Rohrwasser could easily be a top 10 fantasy kicker.