While the team looked good in its 2013 debut, there are a number of players who are struggling at training camp.
Because of injuries or just not being on top of their game, some Patriots being counted this season have either had a hard time getting on the field or are just not producing early on.
Here are five New England players currently struggling:
Quarterback Tim Tebow: The signing of the soon-to-be 26-year-old QB this offseason had a polarizing effect among New England fans. While there is no chance he will beat out Tom Brady as starting quarterback, he holds promise as a developmental project and possible contributor in situational plays.
Unfortunately, Tebow has not looked good in the early going. In addition to struggling with his mechanics, especially accuracy during practice, he was shaky while on the field against Philadelphia. He completely misfired on some passes, held the ball too long in other instances, and generally looked uncomfortable. While the team won and he rushed for 31 yards on four carries, he completed just four passes in 12 attempts for 55 yards, and took three sacks.
Even if his struggles continue, the team may still elect to keep him and use this season as a redshirt year of sorts -- if the Patriots think they can afford the roster spot.
Running Back Brandon Bolden: The 220-pounder was undrafted as a rookie last year, but he made a splash with a number of good performances off the bench before a four-game suspension for PEDS. He got just 13 total carries after he returned and lost much of his momentum.
He has shown up well in practice, but that didn't translate to the Philadelphia game. LeGarrette Blount, his primary competition to be the bruising back off the bench, completely outplayed him, racking up 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 11 carries. By comparison, Bolden looked tentative and had just 14 yards on four attempts.
If the 250-pound Blount continues to play that well, it will be difficult for Bolden to make the team as an underdog for a second consecutive season.
Safety Tavon Wilson: It was hoped that the second-year defensive back would grab a starting spot in 2013, but that is looking doubtful. He has not taken the necessary steps forward in his development, and MassLive.com's Nick Underhill reported he has frequently practiced against the team's third-string offense.
While Wilson's five tackles against Philadelphia tied for second-most on the team, that was a reflection of the backups getting the bulk of playing time. Additionally, NESN.com's Doug Kyed wrote how the safety stood out for a glaring missed tackle, which is an issue that has plagued the New England secondary in recent years.
Cornerback Ras-I Dowling: Although the 2011 second-round pick looked great during offseason OTAs, he is currently facing the same problem that has plagued him throughout his career -- staying healthy.
Dowling has played just nine total games during his first two years. Kyed reported he is now out with another undisclosed injury, with no specific return date. It's hard to make a team from the sideline, so his ability to make the team bears watching.
Wide Receiver Michael Jenkins: Entering his 10th season, the receiver has more pro experience than any two other New England receivers put together. Unfortunately, that experience is not translating on the field.
He's had issues with drops in practice and didn't see the field against the Eagles. Brought in during the offseason in part because of his veteran presence, he's now in danger of being beaten out by rookies like Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins.Conclusion: Training camp and preseason games are proving grounds. While there may still be time before the regular season starts, some players have set themselves back with their early performances. Without a major turnaround, they may find themselves on the outside looking in when the Patriots take the field for the first game of the year against the Buffalo Bills on September 8.
In addition to the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports. He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.
You can follow Andrew on Twitter @historianandrew.
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