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New England Patriots 2019 roster breakdown: #62 OG Joe Thuney

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Thuney enters the last year of his contract as one of the best young guards in the NFL.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots, who are currently in their middle of their 2019 training camp, have 90 players on their active roster at the moment. However, only 53 of them will be able to survive the cutdowns on August 31 and ultimately make the team. Over the course of the summer, we will take a look at the players fighting for those spots to find out who has the best chances of helping the Patriots defend their Super Bowl title.

Today, the series continues with New England’s starting left guard.

Name: Joe Thuney

Position: Offensive guard

Jersey number: 62

Opening day age: 26

Experience: 3

Size: 6’5, 310 lbs.

2018 review: Joe Thuney is the iron man along the Patriots’ offensive line. Entering his third season in the NFL, the former third-round draft pick out of N.C. State had missed only 12 of a possible 2,722 offensive snaps. 2018 proved to be more of the same for New England’s durable starting left guard — with one difference: he did not leave the field even once over the team’s nineteen combined regular season and playoff games.

Just like he did the previous two seasons, Thuney was a fixture along the interior offensive line. During the regular season, he was on the field for all 1,119 offensive snaps and also added 82 more (of 453; 18.1%) as a member of the Patriots’ field goal and extra point protection units. The playoffs were more of the same: Thuney played all 252 snaps on offense and 16 more on special teams (of 92; 17.4%).

While his durability is without a doubt impressive considering the physical nature of his position, Thuney’s performances as a pass protector and run blocker also stood out: he proved himself to be one of the best young guards in the NFL, and a technically sound player with the core strength to consistently win one-on-ones and the athleticism to pull across the formation and serve as a lead blocker in the ground game.

As such, he posted impressive numbers in the passing game and allowed only 22 quarterback disruptions all season long: Thuney surrendered 3.0 sacks as well as 8 hits and 11 additional pressures — impressive numbers considering that the Patriots went against some of the game’s top interior defensive lineman over the course of the 2018 season; including the reigning defensive player of the year, Aaron Donald, in Super Bowl 53.

While the Patriots primarily (and successfully) used double-team blocks on Donald, Thuney stonewalled him whenever being asked to block the standout tackle one-on-one. The Super Bowl was therefore the perfect way to end his 2018 campaign: Pro Football Focus’ fifth ranked left guard was on the top of his game against premier competition, and held his ground no matter the assignment in both the running game and against the opposing pass rush.

Thuney’s improved consistency in both areas in combination with his durability and already preexisting smarts and sound technique allowed him to take another step forward from year two to year three. He once again was a key cog in the Patriots’ offensive machinery last season, and as a result can now call himself a two-time world champion — and one of the premier guards in all of football.

2019 preview: Thuney enters the final year of his rookie contract penciled in as New England’s starting left guard; one that will rarely leave the field again (if at all) in 2019. With his reliability well documented, the main question surrounding the 28-year-old heading into his fourth season in the league therefore concerns his contract situation: will the Patriots be able to lock him up via a long-term deal, or let him play out the year and hit free agency?

Despite drafting Hjalte Froholdt in the fourth round this April, the ideal scenario for New England would be to extend him sooner rather than later. After all, he is an established option along one of the best interior offensive lines in the NFL: together with center David Andrews and right guard Shaq Mason, Thuney forms a formidable trio that is strong in all aspects of the game and has tremendous chemistry with each other.

Speaking of chemistry: Thuney has yet to show that he can work alongside the Patriots’ new left tackle, Isaiah Wynn, in full-team situations. The second-year man missed all of last year due to a torn Achilles tendon but will replace free agency departure Trent Brown on Thuney’s outside shoulder this year. Wynn’s development and communication with Thuney will be crucial for New England’s success up front this year. The veteran’s role in this cannot be underestimated.

All in all, however, the 2019 season projects to be more of the same for Thuney: he will be on the field for all or almost all of the Patriots’ offensive snaps as a reliable pass protector and run blocker.