With Memorial Day weekend in the books, the New England Patriots will be back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium later today. Participation is voluntary during these organized team activities but the expectation is that a sizable portion of the team’s current 85-man roster will again be present.
The session will again also be open to the media. Accordingly, the reporters present — including Pats Pulpit’s own Ryan Spagnoli — will get another good glimpse at the 2022 Patriots and get a chance to answer some key questions at this point in the process.
Who is in attendance? A total of 24 players were either missing or limited during the last open OTA practice on May 23. Some big names were among the 13 not spotted: offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn, linebacker Matthew Judon, defensive tackle Lawrence Guy, and wide receiver N’Keal Harry, to name but a few. Will any of them or the other absentees return on Tuesday? And will the list of limited players see some changes?
Which coach is leading the offense? The offensive coaching staff following the departure of long-time coordinator Josh McDaniels is of the biggest stories in New England this offseason. The first OTA session did not give us any clues who would take the lead role with head coach Bill Belichick and assistants Joe Judge and Matt Patricia all heavily involved in the operation. It seems unlikely there will be any changes today, but the overall operation will be worth keeping a close eye on.
How involved are the rookies? Two members of the Patriots’ 2022 draft class were no-shows last Monday, with four more participating in limited capacity. In fact, only guard Cole Strange and cornerback Jack Jones saw regular action with the starter-level players on their respective sides of the ball. Strange’s status in particular is not expected to change, but some of the other first-year players could very well see a heavier workload this time around.
Who is starting at linebacker and cornerback? The Patriots used a heavy rotation at both positions during their first OTA practice, but some starter-level players did emerge. At linebacker, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Raekwon McMillan appeared to be the one-two punch; at cornerback, Malcolm Butler and Terrance Mitchell were the first men up on the outside with Jonathan Jones in the slot. There will be active movement at all positions, but those two are possibly the most intriguing.
How does Mac Jones look? That is the biggest question throughout the entire offseason and into training camp. Jones is the Patriots’ undisputed starting quarterback, and he will naturally be the center of attention even during these toned-down OTA practices. Given his importance to the future of he franchise, every small glimpse of his development will be worth reporting even though much will have to be taken with a grain of offseason salt.
Tuesday’s session will be the only OTA open to the media this week. However, next week will present a change of sorts: mandatory minicamp will be held June 7-9, with all three sessions open to reporters.