Patriots

Price & Bedard pick the winners for the Patriots’ 2018 training camp awards

(Adam Richins for BSJ)

The Patriots 2018 training camp is done. Fourteen practices are in the books as New England begins to set the stage in earnest for the regular season. Consider this the capper on camp -- 13 awards for what we've seen sitting on the hill for the last two-plus weeks.

The envelope please...

Comeback Player

Price — WR Julian Edelman: A year after tearing an ACL, the receiver has been running and cutting without an issue since late July, and doesn’t appear to be limited at all. There was a brief moment Monday where everyone held their breath after he got tangled up with Eric Rowe at the end of a crossing route and stood off to the side flexing his knee afterward, but it didn’t appear to be a big deal. He’s been relentless in his approach this summer, and while he said the other day he doesn’t quite have his “football legs” underneath him, he looks well on his way toward returning to elite status after his four-game suspension. He gets the nod ahead of Dont’a Hightower, who has been (interestingly) moved around a lot over the course of the summer. Wouldn’t be surprised if we see some added versatility to Hightower’s game come the regular season.

[caption id="attachment_439976" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Vince Valentine and Ja'Whaun Bentley (Adam Richins for BSJ)[/caption]

Bedard — DT Vince Valentine: There aren't a whole lot of nominees considering that guys like Antonio Garcia, Shea McClellin, Malcolm Mitchell, Harvey Langi, Marcus Cannon and Nate Ebner never made it back or barely returned. So that really leaves Valentine, Edelman, Hightower, Cyrus Jones and Derek Rivers. With Edelman and Hightower, I've seen them at their heights and they're not there yet. Rivers looks like the same guy he was early last year — doesn't really stand out, but has potential — and Jones has barely returned. So I'm going with Valentine, who has been out there every day and done a nice job and just might be the guy who got Malcom Brown traded out.

Best defensive rookie

Price -- LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: A late push from the Purdue product cemented his status as the best first-year defensive player this summer. The linebacker was trending in the right direction all summer long, but he arrived with a flourish in the first preseason game of the year with a team-leading six tackles, two of them for a loss, and a quarterback hit. Since then, he’s been a pretty regular presence with the starting defense, and figures to have a role in any defensive game plan the Patriots have this season. Beats out J.C. Jackson and Duke Dawson.

Bedard — LB Ja'Whaun Bentley: Again, not a whole lot of nominees. Trending toward a starting spot over Elandon Roberts. Really came out of nowhere during the exhibition. I think the coaches would say the same thing because he went from not being noticeable to being in the mix as a starter.

[caption id="attachment_435780" align="aligncenter" width="800"] (Adam Richins for BSJ)[/caption]

Best offensive rookie