FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots have a quarterback, tight end and wide receiver who are among the best at their positions in the NFL.
Add Brandon Lloyd to that rich mix, and the passing game should be even better than the one that took them to the Super Bowl last season.
"We’ll see," Lloyd said.
In the preseason, the Patriots’ new deep threat displayed little of what he can do, catching just one pass for 12 yards. That was one more reception than Wes Welker, who led the league with 122 last season. And Rob Gronkowski caught only five passes in those games.
Of course, the stars often play sparingly in August. Tom Brady sat out two of the four games, in fact, and played only two series in another.
So even though history strongly suggests another outstanding passing attack -- especially with Lloyd signing as a free agent -- the first real test comes Sunday in the season opener at Tennessee.
"I’m excited to see how we all come together and are able to make plays," Lloyd said Wednesday. "By me saying, ‘we’ll see,’ it’s a fair statement because we all haven’t been out getting live action yet."
They should make quite a few plays with Brady starting his 13th NFL season.
He threw for 5,235 yards in 2011, the second most in league history. In 2010, he was the NFL’s most valuable player and in 2009, he was the comeback player of
"You don’t know, but you have confidence that you can do it when it matters," Brady said. "Everything needs to be proven. It’s not like the predictions you make on Wednesday all come true."
Welker may not reach his 122-catch total of last season. Gronkowski might fall short of his 90. And tight end Aaron Hernandez could end up with fewer than his 79.
"When a guy like Wes has 122 catches, a lot of times the coverage dictated that the ball go to Wes," Brady said. "So it’s just a matter of trying to evaluate what they’re trying to do defensively and try to make a good decision at quarterback in order to get the ball to the guy that should get it."
He might have been more comfortable if the Patriots hadn’t cut three players he had worked very closely with for years. Wide receiver Deion Branch, center Dan Koppen and quarterback Brian Hoyer were released last Friday when teams trimmed down to the regular-season limit of 53 players.
On Sunday, he’ll do it in in his 11th straight season-opening start.