Pats po­si­tion pre­view: Wide Re­ceiver.

Tom Brady will have more weapons in 2017 than he’s ever had be­fore.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES TOSCANO @Jim­my_Toscano

We’re al­most through the calm in the sports world be­fore the storm, but for Pa­tri­ots fans what a beau­ti­ful and glo­ri­ous storm it should be.

Foot­ball is around the cor­ner and that means the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots are set to de­fend their ti­tle once again, fresh off their 34-28 Su­per Bowl LI win over the At­lanta Fal­cons. And be­lieve it or not, the Pa­tri­ots are con­sid­ered to be a bet­ter team go­ing into this sea­son than they were last sea­son. That’s why you’re al­ready hear­ing 19-0 talk around these parts (though not from within Gil­lette Sta­dium walls).

Train­ing camp be­gins this week and that’s when ev­ery­one will get their first real look at what the team is work­ing with. We’ll break it all down po­si­tion by po­si­tion, start­ing first with a locked and loaded re­ceiver corps for Tom Brady.

The fa­vorites Brandin Cooks, Ju­lian Edel­man, Chris Ho­gan, Mal­colm Mitchell, Danny Amen­dola, Matt Slater

One of the big off­sea­son ac­qui­si­tions for the Pa­tri­ots was for­mer Saints wide re­ceiver Brandin Cooks. Cooks is a dy­namic player who can break out for that big gain at any mo­ment. Last year, he av­er­aged 15.0 yards per catch, good for 14th in the NFL — but he had the third-most re­cep­tions (78) of those play­ers ahead of him. His 15 re­cep­tions of 20-plus yards tied him for 16th in the NFL, while his 73.3 yards per game ranked him 9th. Cooks also had the long­est re­cep­tion of last sea­son, a 98-yard touch­down. Pic­ture Cooks as a hy­brid ver­sion of two other Pa­tri­ots re­ceivers, Ju­lian Edel­man and Chris Ho­gan.

Edel­man re­turns for his ninth sea­son with the Pa­tri­ots, hav­ing be­come an in­te­gral part of their suc­cess through­out the years. Just go back to Su­per Bowl LI for the lat­est ex­am­ple, with Edel­man mak­ing a mirac­u­lous, all-time great catch off Fal­cons corner­back Robert Al­ford’s cleat late in the game. His 2016 sea­son also saw him reach ca­reer highs with 1,106 re­cep­tion yards and 55 re­cep­tions for first downs. Could Edel­man’s re­cep­tions dip with Cooks on board? Maybe, but he’s still Brady’s most trusted re­ceiver.

The Mal­colm Mitchell hype train has left the sta­tion af­ter his Su­per Bowl LI per­for­mance — six catches for 70 yards. Mitchell showed flashes through­out his rookie sea­son that gave fans a rea­son to be ex­cited. The Pa­tri­ots have whiffed on many wide re­ceivers in the NFL Draft, but it feels as though they hit with Mitchell, who will have an in­creased role from the start.

Be­lieve it or not, Ho­gan was one of the best deep ball re­ceivers in the NFL last year. His 17.8 yards per catch ranked him tied for first with Wash­ing­ton’s DeSean Jack­son. De­spite just 38 re­cep­tions and 57 tar­gets last sea­son, Ho­gan is a phys­i­cal mis­match, com­bin­ing size and speed.

Af­ter an­other con­tract restruc­ture, Danny Amen­dola re­turns to the Pa­tri­ots. Amen­dola, though not al­ways fea­tured in the of­fense, has come up in many big sit­u­a­tions when called upon.

Fight­ing for a spot

Austin Carr, Devin Lu­cien, Cody Hol­lis­ter


Brandin Cooks is en­ter­ing his first sea­son as a mem­ber of the Pa­tri­ots.

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