With mandatory minicamp set to begin on Tuesday, the New England Patriots will welcome their entire roster to Gillette Stadium for the first time all offseason. While it seems unlikely that all players on the current 85-man squad will participate in the first of the three practices, a vast majority will take the lower practice fields.
Every player present is worth keeping an eye on, obviously, but here are 10 we will be paying special attention to.
QB Mac Jones: Well, duh! Jones is the Patriots’ most important player and as such the center of attention at all times. The second-year quarterback will have limited opportunities to prove himself given the structure of offseason practices, but his command of the huddle, chemistry with his teammates and interaction with the new-look offensive coaching staff will all be on display.
WR Tyquan Thornton: The Patriots’ second-round draft pick was a limited participant during the first open OTA session before participating fully in what was a relatively uneventful second such practice last week. Minicamp should therefore be the first opportunity to get an extended look at the speedster and how well he is adapting to life in New England’s system.
OT Isaiah Wynn: After deciding to sit out voluntary offseason workouts, Wynn is expected to join his teammates on the practice fields this week. The former first-round draft pick, who will be playing for a new contract this year, will likely slide right back into the starting left tackle position — one that was occupied by Trent Brown and Yodny Cajuste during his absence.
G Cole Strange: The Patriots invested the 29th overall selection in this year’s draft to get Strange aboard, and he seems destined to take over as New England’s starting left guard this year. Minicamp will present another opportunity for Strange to build chemistry with the rest of the O-line, especially newly returned left tackle Isaiah Wynn.
LB Matthew Judon & LB Josh Uche: At the moment, Judon and Uche project as the top-two at the defensive edge. The former will make his return after not participating during the voluntary portion of the offseason workout program, while the latter will try to build on the apparent momentum he has built over the last few weeks; Uche, after all, was mentioned as a “big part” of New England’s defense by both head coach Bill Belichick and outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick.
LB Cameron McGrone & LB Raekwon McMillan: The Patriots’ new-look off-the-ball linebacker group will likely feature some prominent contributions from McGrone and McMillan this year, but neither has seen any extended action in front of the media just yet. This should change over the coming three days and give us a better look at how New England views the current composition of the group with those two near the top of it.
CB Jack Jones: Next to Cole Strange, Jones was the rookie player to see the most action during the Patriots’ two open organized team activities thus far. Will the team continue to give him opportunities as a nickel defender and in the return game? That certainly seems possible and might be a sign of things to come for the 24-year-old.
DB Jabrill Peppers: The Patriots’ free agency acquisition was a limited participant during open OTAs, while still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered last October. His participation status for minicamp is therefore to be determined. Peppers seeing some extended looks, however, might give us a glimpse at how New England plans to use him and his versatile skillset this season.
The Patriots’ first minicamp practice will be kicked off at 11:45 a.m. ET on Tuesday, with the same start time set. for the subsequent two sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. Make sure to regularly check back with Pats Pulpit for all the latest news and analysis.