Kisha's Korner: Veterans Setting The Tone

Brandon Lloyd (USPresswire)

Wide receivers are the topic of the day in New England's training camp, writes Patriots Insider Kisha Tapangan who has been keeping tabs on the group during training camp.

Kisha's Korner: Veteran receivers leading the way
By Kisha Tapangan

Veteran receivers have not always found success in New England. Several struggled with the offense including the likes of Joey Galloway and Chad Johnson, who found their time as a Patriot cut short.

This year, it is the veteran receivers who are leaving the biggest impressions at camp. Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney are planning their comebacks as former Patriots and Brandon Lloyd is looking to make an impression with his new beginning. These three aren't the only veterans on the team as Wes Welker and Deion Branch are also working towards another productive year.

Welcome back

Donte Stallworth isn't a stranger to the Patriots. He spent 2007 with the team and compiled 46 receptions for 496 yards and three touchdowns. Since then, Stallworth has had brief careers with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins.

At camp, Stallworth has been consistent, fast and surprisingly agile. With Brandon Lloyd missing a few practice sessions, he's been given more opportunities to stand out. Bill Belichick expressed praise about the Stallworth's return to New England,

"He's shown a lot more leadership and he's a very professional athlete, he really takes his job seriously and acts in a very professional way," Bill Belichick said, "He's a great example for all of us on a daily basis. I would say that's definitely grown since he was here in '07."

Working together as a team to win is a major priority for the Patriots and Stallworth understands this, "I just try to go out and help out the young guys as much as I can, because I was once that guy," he said.

Before making his return to the Patriots, 11-year veteran Jabar Gaffney had stints with the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins. His time with Redskins showed promise as he made 68 catches for 947 yards and scored five touchdowns. It has been a few years since Gaffney has caught a pass from Tom Brady but he's not too concerned,

"This is the offense that I've pretty much played in my whole career. That part of it came back to me. Just getting the timing back down – that stuff takes a little more time." With some of the impressive catches he's made at camp, Gaffney is looking to make an impact on offense.

Number 85 has a very different look to him in this year's training camp. Veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd now wears the number that's been made famous by Chad Johnson whose time with the Patriots ended abruptly after only putting up 276 yards and single touchdown in all of the 2011-2012 season.

The new and better 85 has already impressed the crowds at camp with incredible catches but if you ask him about his chemistry with Brady, Lloyd reassures that, "It just takes time," Lloyd explains, "We'll continue to talk and work together, and see what one another is expecting out of the route-running, then eventually just start clicking."

Deion Branch and Brandon Lloyd have missed a few practice sessions - both have returned since.

While it is too soon to say who will be Brady's favorite target, it definitely makes for an interesting camp when one of the biggest competitions is among those with the most experience.
Kisha Tapangan is contributing writer for Patriots Insider.com. She also manages the blog Necessary Roughness with Kisha. She can also be found on twitter @KishaT. Feel free to email her your thoughts here.


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