Football is back… at least in some form: yesterday, the New England Patriots returned to the practice fields after being away from them for more than a month. Practicing in front of thousands of spectators, the team took its first step on its quest to recapture the Super Bowl title. Let’s quickly recap what happened yesterday and what it means in the grand scheme of things.
Isaiah Wynn might receive the Nate Solder treatment this year
When the Patriots drafted Nate Solder in the first round of the 2011 draft, they did so with the future in mind: having two established starters at both offensive tackle spots, New England primarily used him as a rotational third tackle and blocking tight end. If the first day of the Patriots’ training camp is any indication, the team might use a similar approach with this year’s first-round draft pick, Isaiah Wynn. The Georgia product lined up exclusively with the second-team offensive line and might not get a shot at a starting role at left tackle (or left guard) until next year.
The Patriots’ new additions saw plenty of action
Brown was not the only of New England’s offseason addition to see considerable reps yesterday. While defensive tackle Danny Shelton and edge rusher Adrian Clayborn both lined up with the starters, cornerback Jason McCourty received his first team-drill opportunities since joining the team via trade in March. Furthermore, first-round rookie running back Sony Michel was given plenty of time with the starting offense.
Phillip Dorsett appears to be the front-runner for a wide receiver spot
New England entered training camp with only a handful of locks at the wide receiver position, but plenty of bodies to fill the remaining ones behind them. One player who helped his case on Thursday was Phillip Dorsett. The former first-round draft pick, who joined the team via trade last year and therefore is participating in his first training camp in New England, had a strong day and saw plenty of work out of the slot as well – something to keep in mind with Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games of the season.
Coaching the defense will be a joint venture
After ending the 2017 season on the lowest possible note, the Patriots defense also lost coordinator Matt Patricia to the Detroit Lions. Linebackers coach Brian Flores is waiting in the wings to take over, and will already lead the unit this year without the official title. If yesterday’s practice session is any indication, however, he will not be the only one working closely with the group: head coach Bill Belichick and his personal consultant – former Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema – also spent plenty of time on the defensive side of the ball.
It is far too early to draw any definitive conclusions
While it was nice to see the Patriots back on the football field and working out for the first time in a while, they are far too early in the process for anybody to draw definitive conclusions just yet. After all, the team did not even wear full pads for yesterday’s session. The next step in evaluating the 2018 Patriots will therefore come on Saturday, when the team holds its first practice in full pads.