|Countdown to Camp: Wide receivers||07.22.09 at 7:30 pm ET|
With training camp looming at the end of the month, WEEI.com will look at the 2009 Patriots in a position-by-position breakdown we’re calling “Countdown to Camp.” In the first installment, we take a look at New England’s wide receivers.
CURRENTLY ON THE ROSTER: Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Greg Lewis, Joey Galloway, Sam Aiken, Robert Ortiz, Tyree Barnes, Julian Edelman, Terrence Nunn.
A LOOK BACK: Even without Tom Brady for virtually the entire season, Moss and Welker enjoyed great seasons in 2008. Moss finished with 69 catches for 1,008 yards and 11 touchdowns, while Welker was a legitimate Pro Bowler, ending the year with 111 catches for 1,165 yards and three TDs. (As No. 3, Jabar Gaffney finished with 38 catches for 468 yards and two TDs — he signed as a free agent in the offseason with Denver.) Aiken had eight catches for 101 yards in spot duty.
Overall, the New England receivers were in the Top 10 in many receiving categories in 2008, including total receptions (339, 10th in the NFL), total receiving yards (3,790, 10th) and average receiving yards per game (236.9, 10th).
As for the new faces, the 29-year-old Lewis had 19 catches for 247 yards and one touchdown last year in Philadelphia, while in Tampa Bay, the 37-year-old Galloway was dogged by injuries that limited him to 13 catches for 138 yards in nine games.
A LOOK AHEAD: It’ll be the 32-year-old Moss on the outside and the 28-year-old Welker in the slot, with the other outside receiver position a battle between Lewis and Galloway. (For more on that, click here.) Aiken is a solid special teams presence who saw limited time at receiver last season — his versatility will likely be enough to win him a spot on the roster.
As for the rest, they appear to be squarely on the bubble, with the exception of Edelman. The former Kent State quarterback (taken in the seventh round of the 2009 draft) is an intriguing prospect, one who showed a lot during spring practices. He lined up at multiple spots on the field — in addition to his work at receiver, he lined up as a returner and was at quarterback in the scout team drills for the No. 1 defense — and his positional versatility could make it difficult to sneak him through to the practice squad.
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