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Two positional battles in focus at OTA’s

06.08.10 at 3:38 pm ET
Patriots Football

Patrick Chung is entering his second season with the Patriots. (AP)

FOXBORO — The position battles start long before training camp — in truth, many of the important ones have already begun.

On the defensive side of the ball, the two best are at inside linebacker and safety. On the inside, it’ll be a race to see who will presumably line up next to Jerod Mayo in New England’s 3-4. Gary Guyton took the bulk of the snaps at that spot last season (the since-retired Junior Seau also broke glass there on several occasions in 2009), but Tyrone McKenzie, who sat out all of last year because of a knee injury and rookie Brandon Spikes could also figure into the mix as well in 2010.

It’s easy for him to say — one would think it isn’t his job that’s at stake — but Mayo said this kind of competition is all part of the job.

“To be honest with you, I go in with the mindset that we’re all battling,” said Mayo. “There are no starters, as Coach says each and every year. I think we’re all battling, and we’re all getting better. We’re all out here competing.”

The other one that bears watching throughout the organized team activities is at safety — with Brandon Meriweather occupying one spot, there’s a rush of talented bodies who are vying for the spot opposite him. It’s a group that includes James Sanders, Brandon McGowan and Patrick Chung.

McGowan was not present for Monday’s OTA session, and in his place, Chung got a lot of reps with what appeared to be a reasonable facsimile of the starting defense.

“We have some animals back there,” Chung said with a smile after Monday’s session. “We’re all working together. It’s great. We’re all working together.

“Everybody will play. We just work hard and coach picks whoever. We’re all working hard to help the team.”

For his part, Chung’s versatility seems to be a natural fit with Meriweather, whose strength appears to be operating in the deep part of the field. The Oregon product says he likes playing alongside Meriweather.

“It’s competitive. We make it real competitive,” Chung said of his on-field collaboration with Meriweather. “It’s fun. It makes practice fast. When you get fast practice, the games come easy. I like it.”

Read More: Brandon Meriweather, Brandon Spikes, Gary Guyton, James Sanders
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