Patriots

How Tom Brady stacks up against other QBs in Madden NFL 21 ratings

How Tom Brady stacks up against other QBs in Madden NFL 21 ratings

Is Tom Brady still a top-five NFL quarterback?

EA Sports' "Madden NFL 21" says he is, but just barely. The popular football video game franchise released its overall ratings for its top 10 QBs, and Brady ranked fifth with a solid 90.

That puts Brady -- now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer -- ahead of Aaron Rodgers (89), Matt Ryan (87), Deshaun Watson (86), Dak Prescott (84), and Carson Wentz (84). The four QBs rated higher than him are Patrick Mahomes (99), Russell Wilson (97), Lamar Jackson (94), and Drew Brees (93).

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

All things considered, that's a pretty fair top 10.

We'll just have to wait a bit longer to find out how Madden rates Patriots quarterbacks Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham this year. But Pats fans should be hyped up about Stephon Gilmore's rating, as the All-Pro cornerback reportedly will join the exclusive "99 Club."

Madden 21 is set to be released Aug. 25.

How Bill Belichick is handling Patriots' punishment from videotaping incident

How Bill Belichick is handling Patriots' punishment from videotaping incident

As if losing their franchise quarterback and several core veterans to free agency wasn't enough, the New England Patriots also will be down a pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Patriots lost their third-round pick in 2021 and paid $1.1 million in club fines as punishment for a team staffer illegally videotaping the Cincinnati Bengals' sideline during a Week 14 game last season.

Head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the NFL cracking down on his team Friday for the first time since the league announced its punishment in late June.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

"Obviously the league had a long investigation on that, but really we're just looking ahead," Belichick said in a video conference, referring to the seven months it took for the NFL to reach a verdict.

"We have a lot of things ahead of us here, especially getting ready for the season and all that. We've moved on, and we'll deal with what we have to deal with in front of us here. Just let everything go in the rearview mirror and go ahead."

Belichick and his staff have plenty on their plate as training camp ramps up: They need to integrate a new quarterback (Cam Newton) and a handful coaches in different roles (Jedd Fisch, Troy Brown and Tyler Hughes, to name a few) while accounting for the losses of eight players who opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.

The loss of a 2021 draft pick obviously impacts New England's future plans, but if Belichick and his staff apparently aren't looking that far ahead -- or if they are, they're not letting on.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Patriots Talk Podcast: Training camp position battles to watch

Finally, the New England Patriots are back on the field at Gillette Stadium.

The new-look Pats had their first practice of 2020 on Wednesday, which means training camp position battles are officially underway. The obvious position battle in camp will be at the quarterback position between Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, but there are many more intriguing battles to keep an eye on.

In a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry break down the positions where these battles will take place.

Patriots Talk Podcast - Training Camp Preview: Burning Questions and Bold Predictions | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Perry named the Patriots' three most notable position battles, starting with the QB position. While it's technically a battle between Newton and Stidham, some believe it's a foregone conclusion Newton will be the Week 1 starter.

"You have the quarterback spot with Cam vs. Stidham. Let's move past that, we've talked enough about that, we both think Cam is going to win the job. Not a real battle, per se," Perry said.

"Let's go back to the outside linebackers. This is a four-way cage match between Chase Winovich, Anfernee Jennings, Shilique Calhoun and Brandon Copeland. My guy is going to be Anfernee Jennings, but I do think that's a battle. Whatever that opposite John Simon edge spot is called, somebody's got to fill it.

"Number three, let's talk special teams ... who is your returner? Is it Kyle Dugger, your first draft pick in this year's draft? Is it J.J. Taylor? Fun as hell to watch, would be fun as hell to watch in the kicking game. Or is it last year's guy, Gunner [Olszewski]? They don't want to give it to Julian Edelman, we know that, so one of those three guys I think will win it."

For Curran, it's a newly-added safety who will have his attention in camp.

"I'm going to head over to the secondary for the position battle that I'm interested to watch," Curran said. "I have a good feeling of who's going to shine there and it's my defensive dark horse for this camp and this season -- it's going to be Adrian Phillips at the safety spot holding off a young Kyle Dugger.

"I think Adrian Phillips is going to be an absolute eye-opener at the safety position ... Adrian Phillips is a talented player; he's closer to [Patrick] Chung than he is Devin McCourty. He's going to be a really good player for the Patriots this year. But I'm going to be real interested to see how Dugger competes ... he's an athletic unicorn."

Curran and Perry also discuss the burning questions surrounding the Patriots, why the Pats should explore using the triple option, bold predictions for the 2020 season, and much more.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.