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Optimism building for Brandon LaFell

Patriots receiver building rapport with Tom Brady. Jason Butt

Print This August 20, 2014, 10:57 AM EST

If there's a prime candidate to break out in 2014, it could be Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell.

The former second-round pick by Carolina has been slowly finding a role with the New England offense, which features tight end Rob Gronkowski and mostly a bunch of diminutive receivers. LaFell is a bigger target for quarterback Tom Brady at 6-3, 210 pounds, which could give the Patriots more of an outside presence this season.

Thus far, LaFell has certainly impressed coach Bill Belichick.

“I think he’ll be able to carve out a role for himself here,” Belichick said, via The Boston Herald. “Might be a big one. He’s finding different ways to contribute, whether it’s blocking, receiving or special teams. He’s done whatever we’ve asked of him, and he’s done it well. He’s gotten better at it.”

A season ago, the Patriots' passing game struggled at times without Gronkowski. Danny Amendola also had his share of injuries, too. If LaFell can step in and provide a reliable target for Brady, then the future Hall of Famer's numbers could see a spike this year.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

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