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    What to watch for in Patriots minicamp

    Bill Belichick’s troops have another few days of work before getting their annual break before camp opens.
    Bill Belichick’s troops have another few days of work before getting their annual break before camp opens.

    The Patriots begin their three-day minicamp Tuesday, the team’s final days together before training camp begins in late July.

    Minicamp is mandatory, unlike organized team activities, which are called voluntary but are about as voluntary as paying taxes. Teams can fine players for not taking part in minicamp, though it’s not expected that will happen with any Patriots.

    Here are a few of the more interesting story lines:


     Danny Amendola — Word is Amendola has shown well throughout spring workouts, and during the OTAs last week media were able to watch, he and Julian Edelman got some two-on-one time with Tom Brady on a side field as the bulk of the team did special teams work. Amendola was brought in to be a younger, faster version of Wes Welker, but his first season in New England was largely a disappointment as he struggled to play through a groin injury suffered in Week 1.

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     Tight end group — Rob Gronkowski (torn ACL) has been working with the rehab group during the spring, and it’s not likely he will be an active participant this week. Michael Hoomanawanui would like to have a bigger role in the passing game, but will that happen? The Patriots somewhat surprisingly did not draft a tight end, instead signing two undrafted rookies, Asa Watson and Justin Jones. The 6-foot-8-inch Jones has stood out because of his size — but he’s had some hiccups catching the ball. Another tight end, Kyle Auffray, was released Monday after signing last week.

     Safety — Devin McCourty will be one of the starters, but it isn’t clear who will be his running mate. Sophomore Duron Harmon, who started three games last season, including the come-from-behind win over the Broncos when he was credited with 11 tackles, is the favorite to win the job. Patrick Chung, who has returned after starting 10 games with the Eagles last season, will challenge.

     Backup quarterback — Ryan Mallett wasn’t on the field last Thursday, which meant second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo saw a lot of snaps and one-on-one time with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Garoppolo started well but was shaky in the latter part of the practice, but earned praise from teammates for his confidence and work ethic. There were rumors Mallett would be traded during the draft and he still could be moved. If Garoppolo develops satisfactorily, it may give the team the confidence to let him be Brady’s only backup.

     Team health — Nose tackle Vince Wilfork seems to be making strides in his comeback from Achilles’ surgery, and Will Smith (torn ACL) and Tommy Kelly (knee) have been rehabbing as well, though first-round pick Dominique Easley (torn ACL) has not been spotted. Jerod Mayo (pectoral) has been a full participant. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (broken leg) also has been a full participant, which can’t be said for left tackle Nate Solder (unknown).


     Armond Armstead — Does this defensive lineman exist? We’re starting to wonder. Armstead, who has suffered from heart issues, was on the non-football injury list all of last season, his first with New England, and has not been spotted in months.

    Shalise Manza Young can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung.