With organized team activities in the books, the New England Patriots opened their three-day mandatory minicamp on Monday. While one star player was not present — cornerback Stephon Gilmore is a no-show and not expected to change his status at one point this week — some others returned after not being spotted during voluntary workouts this offseason.
“We’re working through some travel arrangements, so we’ll see what the full level of participation here is [on Monday] and for this week,” head coach Bill Belichick said on Monday. “I’m sure we’ll have a pretty full roster. It’s good to see a couple new faces here.”
Those new faces he mentioned are as follows:
RB Brandon Bolden: One of just three Covid-19 opt-outs to return for the 2021 season alongside linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tight end Matt LaCosse, Bolden elected not to participate in voluntary workouts this spring. Now, the veteran is back to offer depth at running back and on special teams.
K Nick Folk: New England’s place kicker was re-signed to a one-year deal in free agency, but he too elected to sit out voluntary workouts. Given that he was added during the regulars season in 2019 and that spring practices were canceled last year, Folk is now participating in his first minicamp since joining the Patriots.
DT Lawrence Guy: While Lawrence Guy did participate in one media conference call this offseason, he did not take the practice fields during OTAs. Now, however, the team captain is back in the fold to help bolster a defensive front seven that saw some significant turnover this offseason.
RB Sony Michel: Coming off an injury-riddled 2020 season, Michel is now back to fight for his job. The Patriots, after all, declined his fifth-year option for 2022 and also added Rhamondre Stevenson in the third round of the draft. Despite his productivity when healthy last year, Michel is no lock to make the team.
TE Jonnu Smith: One of the high-priced free agents signed by the Patriots in March, Smith has not practiced alongside his new teammates this spring — the only free agent to do so. Now, however, he is back to head a tight end depth chart that also features fellow offseason addition Hunter Henry.
RB James White: Just like Folk and Guy, James White also re-signed with the Patriots in free agency earlier this year. One of three running backs to return to practice on Monday after sitting out the voluntary phase of offseason work, the team captain is again projected to play a prominent role in the team’s offense.
OT Isaiah Wynn: Last time we saw Isaiah Wynn was when he left a late-November game in Houston due to a knee injury. He never returned and eventually ended the season on injured reserve — his third trip to IR in three seasons in the league. Still, the Patriots exercised his fifth-year option earlier this offseason and on Monday he was back on the practice field.
The Patriots will have three days worth of practices this week. After kicking things off on Monday, they will also work out on Tuesday and Wednesday before leaving for their pre-training camp summer break. Minicamp, as the name suggests, is mandatory and players not present without an excuse are subject to fines.