Training camp is finally almost here. They allow tackling there and everything. Around the League will count down the top 30 position battles to watch throughout the preseason.
Position Battle No. 20. New England Patriots WR: Deion Branch vs. Donte' Stallworth
â¢ Both players eye one last run after long careers. Both players know the Patriot Way. We suspect there is only room for one of them.
â¢ Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney should be roster locks. Special teamers Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman are likely to make the team. That leaves Branch and Stallworth fighting it out for the role of "well-known veteran" looking for a ring.
â¢ Branch topped 700 yards last year in New England on craftiness alone. He struggles to separate and seemed to gain most of his yards when Brady extended the play and the two longtime friends improvised. He's only 32, but he plays older.
â¢ Stallworth has greater speed and special teams ability. The Patriots prize versatility, which would seem to give Stallworth an edge.
Projected winner: Branch. The New England Patriots occasionally keep old trusty favorites around an extra year on scholarship. (Think Kevin Faulk last year.) Brady loves Branch. This should be Branch's farewell tour.