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New England Patriots 2017 roster breakdown: #76 OT Andrew Jelks

After not having played in a game since 2014, the Patriots have given Jelks another chance to prove himself.

With training camp starting this week, the NFL's most quiet period is set to come to an end soon. The New England Patriots' rookies have reported to camp yesterday, while veterans will return to Foxboro tomorrow. On Thursday, the defending world champions will hold their first practice of this year's camp.

Over the next month, players have a chance to earn a spot either on the team's 53-man roster or the practice squad. Throughout the offseason, we will take a look at the men fighting for those few select spots on the 2017 Patriots to find out who will and might be asked to help the team defend its Super Bowl title.

Today, we will continue the series with a rookie offensive tackle.

Name: Andrew Jelks

Position: Offensive tackle

Jersey number: 76

Opening day age: 23

Experience: Rookie

Size: 6’6, 305 lbs.

2016 review: In 2013, offensive tackle Andrew Jelks was named to the SEC coaches' all-freshman team. In 2014, he moved from the right to left side and started all 12 of the Commodores' games while playing almost 90% of the team's offensive snaps. In 2015, Jelks was scheduled to return as a starter. Then, his injury issues began: He missed his entire junior season with a torn ACL suffered during preseason workouts.

After sitting out the 2015 campaign, fifth-year senior Jelks returned to Vanderbilt in 2016 – only to suffer another devastating injury: The Tennessee native tore his ACL again during the summer and was forced to sit out his second straight season. However, despite the injury, Jelks was an active member of the team and noted as one of its leaders.

Even though he had no shot at playing, Jelks was dressed in full gear during Vanderbilt's season finale. After the game, he was named a team captain and attended the Commodores' Independence Bowl appearance against N.C. State. But while he could have petitioned the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility, Jelks did not return to school and instead tried to make it in the NFL.

2017 preview: Given his injury history it was no surprise to see Andrew Jelks go unselected during the 2017 NFL draft. Shortly after the event, however, the Patriots signed him as a free agent. And even though he was the lone rookie not to receive any guarantees as part of his deal, the 23-year old will be given a chance to prove that he belongs on an NFL roster. It will not be easy.

After all, New England is deep at the offensive tackle position. Three players – Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Antonio Garcia – are locks to make the roster while veteran Cameron Fleming and sixth round rookie Conor McDermott the favorites to earn the projected final spot on the team. Consequently, Jelks at best appears to be fighting for a spot on New England's practice squad.

Given his talent and successful first two years at Vanderbilt, he would be an intriguing addition to the scout team. In order for that to happen, however, Jelks finally has to return to the practice fields: He missed all of minicamp and has been placed on the non-football injury list yesterday. Only once he returns will he be able to show if he is a serious candidate to play in the NFL.