clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The five most important questions as the Patriots kick off mandatory minicamp

New, comments

The next three days, New England will hold this year’s minicamp.

While opening day is still three months away, the New England Patriots are already working towards defending their world championship. The team is currently in the middle of its third phase of OTAs and as such will hold a mandatory minicamp this week. Today marks the first day of three consecutive practice sessions.

Let’s take a look at five major storylines of this year’s minicamp.

Who will be in attendance?

Despite their voluntary nature, the Patriots have had very good attendance during their OTA practices. Three prominent players were not present, though: Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and defensive tackle Alan Branch were all no-shows over the course of the last two weeks. According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the trio will be part of minicamp, though.

However, while Branch is expected to be on the field with his teammates, neither Hightower nor Mitchell are. Apparently, the duo is dealing with medical issues and/or is currently in the process of rehabbing. Both are locks to make the roster but it will be interesting to see how the team will fill their voids over the next three days.

How will the Patriots’ offseason acquisitions look like?

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore and wide receiver Brandin Cooks have already seen plenty of OTA reps among their respective starting units. Naturally, both will continue to see a lot of practice time this week as they are projected to play integral roles on the 2017 Patriots. A more intriguing question therefore becomes how New England’s other offseason acquisitions – whether through free agency, trade, or draft – will look like.

The team invested heavily at multiple positions over the course of the offseason. In order for those investments to pay off, players like defensive edge Kony Ealy, running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead and the team’s draft picks – particularly edge defender Derek Rivers – will likely see heavy reps over the next three days. The team has to hope that they adapt quickly.

Who will earn spots at deep positions?

The above-mentioned investments bolstered the depth at multiple positions. As a result, battles for roster spots are already underway and minicamp might be the time when early favorites emerge. The competition will be especially interesting at the following positions:

Running back: Dion Lewis vs. D.J. Foster

Tight end: James O’Shaughnessy vs. Jacob Hollister vs. Matt Lengel vs. Sam Cotton

Cornerback: Jonathan Jones vs. Cyrus Jones vs. undrafted rookies

Safety: Jordan Richards vs. undrafted rookies

Will the wide receivers put pressure on Danny Amendola?

Due to his offseason contract restructure and the fact that his $1.25 million salary is now guaranteed, Amendola is close to a roster lock. However, that does not mean that other wide receivers cannot give him a run for his money. Recently signed Andrew Hawkins and undrafted rookie Austin Carr appear to be the major competition for the veteran.

If one of them convinces on both offense and special teams, they might make Amendola expandable. As things currently stand, it would be a surprise if that happened – but as history teaches us, the Patriots are never afraid of making a surprising personnel decision.

Will Cyrus Jones finally turn into a more consistent player?

The 2016 second rounder had a disappointing rookie campaign and struggled both on defense and as a punt returner. During the media access portion of OTA practices, his struggles seemed to continue: He was beaten on a deep route by Danny Amendola and misplayed several punts. If no visible improvement happens during minicamp, Jones’ future in New England might look bleak.