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Training camp preview: Wide receiver

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff  July 26, 2012 08:56 AM

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Shalise Manza Young provides a status report on the Patriots' offensive position groups heading into the start of training camp on Thursday.
Position: Wide receiver
Current number of players: 10
Four-year average at cut to 53: 6.25
Last season at 53: 6

Locks (3): Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Matthew Slater
Near-locks (2): Jabar Gaffney, Julian Edelman
Battling (5): Deion Branch, Donte’ Stallworth, Britt Davis, Jeremy Ebert, Jesse Holley
Long shots: None

53-man prediction
On the team:
Welker, Lloyd, Slater, Gaffney, Edelman, Stallworth, Davis
Cut: Branch, Holley, Ebert

Parting thought: As successful as Branch’s second stint with the Pats has been, this could be the end – he has struggled to gain separation over defenders since the second half of last year, and while his savvy got him through, Gaffney can fill a similar role on better legs. Welker and Lloyd should be a powerful 1-2 punch, with Lloyd the downfield threat the Pats haven’t had since Randy Moss left. Slater is a receiver in name alone, as his status as one of the league’s best special-teamers makes him needed; similarly, Edelman’s versatility – he’s likely the team’s best returner, and played some defensive back last year – get him a spot. Davis impressed in spring camps, and Stallworth’s ability to contribute on special teams also helps when compared to Branch.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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