Beginning on Monday, the New England Patriots will start adding a new chapter to their offseason story. With the first two phases of voluntary workouts in the books, organized team activities are set to be kicked off.
In total, 10 sessions will be held over the next four weeks. While participation is voluntary, the expectation is that a sizable portion of the team’s current 85-man roster will be present. Accordingly, it will give the coaching staff another opportunity to teach the system and keep building on the foundation for the 2022 season.
OTAs also allow us to take a first real look at the team. While most of the sessions will be closed to the public, and only small windows open, a few important offseason questions might still get some early answers.
How does Mac Jones look? No player on the Patriots’ roster will be under the spotlight more than the team’s young quarterback. Coming off a very solid if a bit uneven season at times, Jones is a prime candidate to make the second-year jump and further build on his status as the key player on New England’s roster. Be it in terms of his throwing technique — he did a lot of lower-body work over the last few weeks —, his command of the offense or his physique, OTAs might give us a first glimpse of his development heading into Year 2.
Are there any early signs of second-year jumps? Jones leads the second-year class, but he is far from the only player possibly in line to show some considerable improvement in 2022. Fellow second-year players such as Christian Barmore, Ronnie Perkins, Rhamondre Stevenson or Cameron McGrone are also worth keeping a close eye on. The same is true for last year’s offseason additions like Jonnu Smith, Kendrick Bourne or Raekwon McMillan.
Who is in attendance? Judging by photos published by the team last month, a healthy portion of the roster already participated in voluntary Phase 1 and Phase 2 workouts. Phase 3 is a continuation of this process, so it will be interesting to see who will be present — especially among players coming off injuries. Attendance is only one part of it, however: participation is also important.
How involved are Matt Patricia and Joe Judge? The Patriots’ coaching staff underwent some changes this offseason, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. With former coordinator Josh McDaniels and three other assistants gone, New England has — among others — turned to Matt Patricia and Joe Judge: while their coaching experience on offense is limited, Bill Belichick apparently trusts Patricia and Judge to work with the offensive line and quarterbacks, respectively.
Will any surprise contributors emerge? Back in 2018, the Patriots’ OTAs saw a little-known undrafted rookie cornerback get starter-level reps opposite the team’s CB1 at the time, Stephon Gilmore. It was a sign of things to come: J.C. Jackson developed into one of the league’s best cornerbacks and by the 2021 season was a Pro Bowler and Gilmore’s heir atop the cornerback depth chart. Will this year’s organized team activities write some similar stories?
Is there a first glimpse at some position battles? From the interior offensive line to linebacker to cornerback, the Patriots have question marks at multiple positions on their current roster. OTAs will not bring definitive answers at any of them, but they might give us some indication about which players are closer to the top of the depth chart than others.
The Patriots’ OTAs will take place on May 23-24, May 26, June 1-3, June 13-14, and June 16-17. Mandatory minicamp — the only part of the offseason players have to attend — will be held June 7-9.