For the first eleven practices of the New England Patriots’ training camp, Isaiah Wynn saw only limited action. He was part of pre-practice stretching routines, lined up during walkthrough portions, and participated in the occasional penalty lap. He did not, however, partake in any competitive drills yet: the second-year man sat out 1-on-1s and also did not see the field during team portions when the club was in full pads.
It all changed on Monday, when the former first-round draft pick saw his most action to date. Wynn participated in one 1-on-1 rep against rookie defensive lineman Byron Cowart, and later teamed up with Ted Karras in a 2-on-2 setting versus Cowart and Chase Winovich. Both times, the 23-year-old held his ground against his opposition. More importantly, though, he looked comfortable with his increased workload.
“I’m pretty good. I’m back out here, so that’s the biggest thing. Just coming out here, taking it day-by-day and getting ready to help in any way I can,” Wynn told reporters during his short media availability following Monday’s practice. “Every day is important. Every day, I come out here whether it’s walkthroughs or whatever... it’s important. Because whatever I can do to progress and help the team that’s what I’m doing.”
Wynn seeing more action yesterday is a sign of things to come: if all goes according to plan — and there is no indication that it will not — he will be the Patriots’ starting left tackle come opening day. Until then, he will continue to see considerable reps in practice and possibly preseason. And even though the road ahead is still somewhat undetermined, it is clear that Wynn is progressing nicely one year removed from the Achilles injury that cost him his entire rookie year.
His usage during 11-on-11 work was further confirmation of that. Wynn was on the field for a total of sixteen full-team reps with the Patriots’ starting offensive line on Monday, as charted by NBC Sports’ Phil Perry, and did it all. As a run blocker, he moved well when pulling across the formation or getting to the second level. In pass protection, he looked equally at home even when going against the best New England’s defense had to offer.
Throughout this pass-first period, Wynn was asked to block Adam Butler, Derek Rivers, Dont’a Hightower and Michael Bennett — and he held his ground on each of his reps despite his comparative inexperience and the high quality of his opposition: his technique and balance helped him come away victoriously during his matchups. Needless to say, therefore, that both he and the team as a whole can feel good about this next step in his development into the full-time starting left tackle role.
For Wynn, however, Monday presented just another opportunity to get better and to knock off some of the proverbial rust that might come with not having appeared in a full-team setting in almost a year: “You’re always working to get better at technique. I could always get better at my technique. It’s never polished,” said the Georgia product. “So if you consider that knocking off rust, then yeah. I always want to get better at my technique.”
Getting back into full playing shape also includes being able to handle the strains of practices and later on games when it comes to stamina. Wynn does feel confident in this area as well, though: “Conditioning-wise, I’m pretty good,” he said. “Still been doing everything the team does. Even when I’m not out there getting plays, I’m down on the lower field running, conditioning with the rest of the guys.”
Now, the work he has put in over the last year is starting to pay off: Wynn is well on his way to become what the Patriots intended when they drafted him 23rd overall last spring. But for him, the most important thing at this point is to keep progressing and “helping the team any way I can.” So far, it looks like he will do just that.