Patriots still in search of momentum

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
2:27
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- At this time last year, New England Patriots receiver Aaron Dobson had a lot of work to do to get ready for the start of training camp. The 2013 second-round draft choice out of Marshall had an up-and-down spring camp "season," and it was clear to both he and the coaching staff that some conditioning work would be crucial.

Dobson got to work in the four-plus weeks before the 2013 training camp and ultimately carved out a top role in the receiving corps.

The story is passed along for context, as a player who might struggle in the spring still has plenty of time to put it together. Ideally, they would have generated some momentum in spring camps, but sometimes things come up.

With this in mind, let's complement the list of Patriots players who built momentum in offseason camps with a list of those still in search of momentum:

Alfonzo Dennard -- The third-year cornerback didn't practice after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, according to the Boston Globe. Between the surgery, and Dennard serving time at an adult detention center in Nebraska, it's been a challenging offseason for him.

Aaron Dobson -- The expectation was that Dobson wouldn't practice this spring after undergoing surgery for a stress fracture in his left foot on March 10. The initial hope was to avoid surgery and see if rest would do the trick, but when that didn't unfold as desired, it altered the course of Dobson's offseason. He should be ready for the start of training camp, although it also wouldn't be a surprise if the club eases him in cautiously regardless. He has some catching up to do if he's to have a breakthrough second season.

Brandon LaFell -- The fifth-year veteran caught our eye with a nice catch in red-zone drills during the second week of organized team activities, but was nicked up at some point after that and didn't get much work in team drills the rest of the way. It shouldn't be anything that holds him back from a long-range perspective, but the time working with Tom Brady would have been a benefit, especially with Dobson out.

D.J. Williams -- The Patriots are a bit light at tight end and Williams, the 2010 Mackey Award winner who entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice of the Packers in 2011, has a nice opportunity to seize a roster spot and potentially be a bigger part of the plans. But a strained calf kept him off the field for all 13 practices. He should be ready to go for the start of training camp, where he'll attempt to get a quick start to make up for any lost time.

Tavon Wilson -- After releasing veteran safety Steve Gregory in late February, the Patriots have a void to fill at safety next to Devin McCourty. Ideally, Wilson, the 2012 second-round draft choice, would be a leading candidate, but we've seen more of Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung in that spot. We did catch Wilson lining up in the slot during this past Wednesday's practice, when cornerback Darrelle Revis was not present, and perhaps the Patriots consider him in that type of role.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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