3 Players Who Must Step Up For The New England Patriots In 2017

The New England Patriots are coming off yet another Super Bowl victory, and after acquiring some major additions this offseason, the Patriots are the favorites to repeat in 2017. However, they need these three players to step up and have big seasons for that to happen:

TE Dwayne Allen

With Martellus Bennett leaving to join the Packers and questions lingering about Rob Gronkowski's health - and New England's reliance on their tight ends - Allen needs to step up and have a big season. There is no question that he is talented, but he has never turned that into consistent production - which is why the Colts wanted to trade him. He hasn't caught more than 35 passes or racked up more than 406 receiving yards since his rookie season in 2012. The Patriots need that to change.

RB Dion Lewis

Lewis' place on this list is tentative. But, with New England not re-signing LeGarette Blount yet and them not having draft picks in the first two rounds, Lewis projects to be the full-time starter splitting time with James White. In the past two years, Blount has been the running threat with Lewis serving mostly as a receiving threat. Now, White appears to be the receiving back given his performance in the Super Bowl. As such, the Patriots need Lewis to improve on the ground, particularly at running between the tackles.

DE Kony Ealy

We all know how crucial it is in today's NFL to be able to pressure the quarterback, and New England is counting on Ealy to be that guy for them. Acquired in a trade with the Panthers, Ealy has shown promising flashes during his first three years in the league, but his production left something to be desired in Carolina. He has yet to record more than 32 tackles or five sacks in a season, and the Patriots need him to be more productive than that.

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