In response to JohnHannahrulz's comment:
1. How the D Line looks. Do we see more 3-4 fronts? How often do we see 4-3? Who plays next to Wilfork? Does Chandler play the elephant role and is he still an effective pass rusher? This still comes down to where the pass rush comes from and do the rookies Buchanan and Collins contribute.
2. Which rookie WRs contribute due the loss of production with Welker, Hernandez gone and Gronk lost for the first 4 weeks of the season? There has already been a thread discussing whether Dobson or Boyce will see more balls. All of which leads to.....
3. Do the Pats go more with their proven running game and how do the carries get distributed between Blount, Ridley, Bolden, and Vereen? The Pats could still use Vereen as a wide-out where he was very effective.
4. What does the defensive backfield look like and how do the Pats use Adrian Wilson? Dennard in the slot; Arrington split wide, McCourty at FS? Does Logan Ryan contribute to the nickel and dime?
Alot of this will come down to who looks great in practice and who looks good in pre-season games. As always there will positional camp battles where potential contributers will emerge.
Good summation of what I'll be looking at.
DT is the most interesting position battle to me, without an improvement to the front three, we won't improve on the back end. We need to create pressure, we need sacks and that starts upfront. I've been calling for the return of the 3 man front for years now, if Armstead can play end we'll be cooking with gas because Wilfork and Kelly are proven commodities when healthy. If our DT position is set, our linebackers will be free to make more plays and we have the talent back there to do more than just fall back into coverage, which about sums up the last 5 years watching this defense.
Bigger, more physical WR's (the rookies and maybe Jenkins) and a healthy Amendola and this offense that everyone is rightfully concerned about will actually be better than it has been since 2007, maybe not as explosive but more consistent and with more depth at runningback.
The RB situation will be interesting, either Bolden will be challenged by the preseason competition and rise or he'll shrink. Blount, while I think he is limited, is awfully big and it would be good to have that back on our roster that can hammer the opposition and give some concussions instead of receiving them. Vereen will be the third down back, that he can flex out wide is why he has that job but in the recent past we've had to use Woody out there more often because we only carried 4 receivers on the roster, this year we're bringing a boatload of receivers to camp so that shouldn't be necessary.
The defensive backfield should look the same as the end of last year, Talib and Dennard starting, Arrington will stay in the slot, that we can be sure of unless there are some serious injuries, but after that there are some position battles that will take place, should be fun to watch. Adrian Wilson very likely will make the biggest impact on this team, he'll take the impossible job of covering tightends that couldn't be done by a linebacker or undersized safety or corner, he'll control the middle of the field and create uncertainty in the minds of opposing WR's daring to cross the middle.
I can't wait for preseason to start!