The New England Patriots start their rookie training camp this upcoming Thursday, July 23rd. This will kick off the countdown for the regular season, which will be a nice change-up from the standard offseason droll.
Plenty of news will surface from these camps, talking about which players are on the field at the same time (a workaround for the Patriots "don't talk about first/second team" media rules), or which rookies made plays on the field. Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler used these camps to vault himself on the roster, so headlines are actually interesting to follow.
The Patriots currently have two unfilled roster spots, so don't be surprised if there's some turnover at the back-end of the roster over the next couple of weeks. Veterans will report on July 29th.
Here's a run down of the rookies and some notes for each:
OL David Andrews, UDFA: Andrews is a practice squad candidate and he flubbed a snap or two during minicamp that forced him to take laps. He's a consistent player and should keep seeing the field during camp.
TE A.J. Derby, 6th round pick: Derby has survived multiple tight end cuts, which is a positive sign for the rookie. He is a converted college QB, though, and is another likely practice squad candidate.
WR Chris Harper, UDFA: Harper is fighting an uphill battle behind veteran Brandon Gibson
OL Tre Jackson, 4th round pick
OL Shaq Mason, 4th round pick: Grouping Jackson and Mason together, with veteran Ryan Wendell not available in earlier practices, the Patriots aligned Jackson and Mason next to center Bryan Stork. Jackson was the right guard, while Mason took the left.
TE Jimmay Mundine, UDFA: Mundine has drawn a lot of comparisons to Charles Clay and should be another camp body that makes it through the 75 man roster cuts.
DT Malcom Brown, 1st round pick: former Patriots employee Chris Simms says a Patriots staff member told him, "Now we know what it feels like to be the Jets and get Muhammad Wilkerson at pick No. 30," in reference to Brown. That's some pretty high praise.
ED Xzavier Dickson, 7th round pick: Dickson is a long shot, with Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, and Jabaal Sheard as veterans ahead in the depth chart, and 3rd and 4th round edge defenders drafted ahead of him.
ED Trey Flowers, 4th round pick
ED Geneo Grissom, 3rd round pick: Grouping the roommates together, neither have really had the chance to shine due to how the camps are limited.
DB Jimmy Jean, UDFA: Jean turned some heads with his 6'2, 210 lbs frame, and backed it up with multiple broken up passes during the minicamps.
DB Brandon King, UDFA: King has stayed out of the headlines, which means that he hasn't done much of note- good or bad. Hopefully he can start making some noise in the upcoming weeks.
LB D.J. Lynch, UDFA: With most veteran linebackers unavailable for minicamp, Lynch had plenty of opportunities to take the field. Second year player James Morris seemed to be in charge, but Lynch will have a lot of time to show he's not just a depth player.
DB Jordan Richards, 2nd round pick: Richards is a little behind schedule due to Stanford's academic calendar, but he's one of the smartest rookies and should pick up the defense fairly quickly. Belichick isn't too worried.
DB Darryl Roberts, 7th round pick: "Swagg" has probably done the most out of the cornerbacks to help make the depth chart. While he hasn't had the same camp as Butler's rookie performance, he's done enough to help his chances of not just making the team, but also push for time.
DT Vince Taylor, UDFA: The Patriots were fairly thin at defensive tackle during camp, with Sealver Siliga and Chris Jones unavailable. Taylor could fight for a Kyle Love type role, or act as a camp body.
LB Matthew Wells, 6th round pick: Wells is a player who will do better once the pads are on and contact begins. He's a light linebacker at just 220 lbs, but he moves like a safety on the field. He should have a quality chance to make the roster.
LS Joe Cardona, 5th round pick: Cardona seems to be fitting in well and has participated in hurry-up offensive drills with punter Ryan Allen and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.