The New England Patriots began the third and final phase of organized team activities today. Not only did the team return to the voluntary portion of offseason workouts after last week’s mandatory minicamp, it also saw the return of three members of the offense.
According to Mark Daniels, tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Dion Lewis and guard Shaq Mason returned to the field after previously missing all offseason practices open to the media:
Gronk alert! Rob Gronkowski was at practice today! Dion Lewis also returned to practice. Same for Shaq Mason
All three were integral members of New England's 2015 offense, starting a combined 31 games last season. However, all three also had to deal with injuries last year.
The most significant one was Lewis', who tore his ACL in week nine. Now, seven months removed from surgery, he is moving fine, according to Ben Volin. Having Lewis available on opening day should be a huge boost for the Patriots' offense – especially considering that the team might be forced to start the year without Tom Brady.
Gronkowski and Mason, on the other hand, both missed games in 2015 because of knee injuries. The team was apparently playing it save with the duo over the early portion of this year's offseason. They might (Mason)/will (Gronkowski) play a significant number of snaps in 2016, so there is nothing wrong with putting them in bubble wrap for most parts of the offseason.