McKenzie and top Pats competitions

May, 18, 2010
5/18/10
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Inside linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, a 2009 third-round draft choice who missed his rookie season with a torn ACL, is scheduled to speak with reporters today at Gillette Stadium.

In February, McKenzie spoke about the gains he made in his lost season. But will they be enough to help him earn significant playing time?

McKenzie's situation highlights some of the strong competition across the Patriots' roster for starting roles and playing time.

1. Inside linebacker. Jerod Mayo is locked in at one spot. Gary Guyton (2009 starter), McKenzie and 2010 second-round pick Brandon Spikes will battle for time next to Mayo.

2. Safety. Between Brandon Meriweather, Pat Chung, Brandon McGowan and James Sanders, it looks like four starting-caliber players for two starting spots.

3. Offensive tackle. Sebastian Vollmer, a 2009 second-round draft choice, came on strong last season. Statrers Matt Light and Nick Kaczur will look to hold him off.

4. Left cornerback. With Leigh Bodden locked in on the right side, will it be Darius Butler, Devin McCourty, Shawn Springs, Terrence Wheatley or Jonathan Wilhite on the other side?

5. Outside linebacker. It looks like Tully Banta-Cain (10 sacks in 2009) could lock down one spot, with a question mark on the opposite side. Derrick Burgess, Rob Ninkovich, Shawn Crable and Jermaine Cunningham (2010 second-round pick) are among the candidates.

6. Right defensive end. Richard Seymour's old spot could be filled by a committee -- Mike Wright, Gerard Warren, Damione Lewis, Ron Brace and Darryl Richard among the options.

7. Receiver. After Randy Moss, who steps up? Julian Edelman had a solid rookie year, while Brandon Tate (2009 third-round pick) and Taylor Price (2010 third-round pick) add more youth. Veterans Torry Holt and David Patten are also in the mix.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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