Momentum builders in offseason camps

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
5:00
AM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Last year, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick talked about how players who weren't on the field in offseason camps were falling behind. This year, the tone was slightly different, with Belichick noting that the team hasn't really done anything football-wise from a competitive standpoint.

Somewhere in the middle probably best describes the team's four weeks of organized team activities and mandatory minicamp practices -- 13 in total.

There is obviously some value in the work, or the Patriots wouldn't be doing it. But at the same time, one shouldn't read too much into it.

With this context as a springboard, here are some lesser-publicized players who appeared to build the desired momentum leading into training camp:

Jon Halapio -- The sixth-round draft choice from Florida has been working at both right and left guard. He participated in all 13 practices, and at one point, was aligned at left guard next to tackle Nate Solder and center Ryan Wendell, last year's starters. So the Patriots are working Halapio into the mix quickly, seeing what he can handle and how he looks at both guard spots after he solely played on the right side at Florida. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Halapio looks like he plays with a bit of a mean streak and is someone we're interested in seeing in training camp.

Duron Harmon -- While the Patriots have split reps at the safety spot next to Devin McCourty, it's usually been Harmon who gets the most extended work. The 2013 third-round pick from Rutgers talked about one day in practice when it was him, McCourty and top cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner putting some extra work in an extra field, and he simply tried to listen to the three veterans to soak up all the knowledge. That's the type of spot Harmon (6-1, 205) wants to be.

Dax Swanson -- The first-year cornerback from Sam Houston State caught the eye in Wednesday's minicamp practice with multiple pass-breakups and two interceptions. An underdog to earn a roster spot, the 5-foot-11, 191-pound Swanson has shown some quickness and reactive athleticism to mirror receivers, taking advantage of an opportunity with Alfonzo Dennard and Justin Green not practicing.

Kenbrell Thompkins -- With 2013 second-round draft choice Aaron Dobson not participating as he rehabilitates his foot, and veteran Brandon LaFell managing an unspecified injury, it was Thompkins who mostly stepped in alongside Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola in the three-receiver package. He took part in all 13 practices and made some notable catches.

James White -- The fourth-round draft choice out of Wisconsin, who has a similar skill-set as fellow running back Shane Vereen, appears to be a quick study and looks like he could be an early factor, particularly in the passing game. He runs good routes and appears to have reliable hands.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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