The New England Patriots started their second phase of training camp earlier workouts this week, holding full-team sessions for the first time all summer. While contact is still prohibited until Phase Three kicks off on Monday to give the sessions more of a walkthrough flair, the first two sessions — one partially live-streamed by the club, the other briefly analyzed up by patriots.com’s Paul Perillo — give us a first look at the 2020 Patriots.
One of the few takeaways from the sessions is that the right tackle competition has slowly started to take shape.
New England, of course, is looking for a replacement for long-time starter Marcus Cannon. The veteran, who was holding down the fort on the right end of the offensive line ever since taking over for Sebastian Vollmer in 2016, decided to opt out of the 2020 season last month because of concerns about the Coronavirus pandemic. With Cannon no longer part of the equation, the Patriots will have to rely on their remaining talent to step up.
Based on Perillo’s report from Thursday’s practice, the team has worked out “several players” at the spot so far with three among them being mentioned by name:
It’s always interesting to watch where Bill Belichick spends his time during a particular practice and on Thursday he was seen observing the offensive line for a period early on. The loss of right tackle Marcus Cannon, who chose to opt out of the 2020 season, created a hole up front and identifying who will fill it will be one of the most interesting storylines of training camp. Not much to see in that regard so far as several players have worked at the spot thus far including Korey Cunningham, Jermaine Eluemunor and Yodny Cajuste.
While reading too much into practice lineups at this point in training camp can be a dangerous endeavor, one development does still stand out: the inclusion of Jermaine Eluemunor in the group named above.
Primarily an interior offensive lineman over the course of his three-year career in the NFL so far, the 25-year-old appeared in 10 of New England’s games in 2020 after being acquired via trade from the Baltimore Ravens. As a backup lineman, he was on the field for just 29 snaps in total but saw action at multiple spots: Eluemunor lined up as a sixth lineman/tight end on 17 of his snaps, at left guard on eight of them, and at right tackle for four plays as well.
After the season, New England kept the restricted free agent by placing the original fifth-round tender on him. His positional versatility and potential upside at both guard and tackle will likely have played a role in the team’s decision making process — and it now could pay dividends. While it remains to be seen how realistic his candidacy for the starting right tackle job really turns out to be, the simple fact that the team is considering him is noteworthy.
The other players competing for Cannon’s former job, meanwhile, are the aforementioned Yodny Cajuste and Korey Cunningham, as well as sixth-round rookie Justin Herron.