The New England Patriots have a busy week ahead of them. They will welcome the Carolina Panthers to Foxborough for a set of joint practices and subsequent preseason meeting; they will have to trim their roster by Tuesday afternoon to go below the NFL’s 85-player threshold; and they will put a wrap on the preseason opener that was played last week.
The team, after all, will return to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Monday morning for its 12th open session of the summer. The expectation is that it will be a comparatively low-energy affair aimed at correcting mistakes.
Nonetheless, there will not be a lot to keep an eye out for.
The blocking schemes: The Patriots used plenty of zone blocking throughout training camp so far, with mostly disappointing results. The preseason opener versus the New York Giants last week, meanwhile, saw only a handful of outside zone being incorporated: there were just seven such snaps out of 62, with only one of those coming in the first half.
Whether or not this is signaling a transition into the man-blocking portion of the summer or simply a case of “we need more practice time before we can successfully zone-block in a game” will be seen. Monday’s session might give us an indication in which direction the Patriots are headed as far as the current state of their blocking implementation is concerned.
Attendance: A handful of Patriots appeared to get dinged up during the game against the Giants, with offensive tackles Yodny Cajuste and Justin Herron as well as linebacker Cameron McGrone among them. Will those three be present? Will any players return? Will the group of limited participants grow or shrink?
The practice on Monday will allow for a roll call of sorts, and give us a surface-level look at the overall health of the team with the first game in the books.
Marcus Jones and Ty Montgomery: Most of the Patriots’ starters did not see the field versus the Giants, and the same was true for rookie cornerback Marcus Jones and veteran running back Ty Montgomery. Neither Jones nor Montgomery saw any action despite dressing, with the two instead spending the entire game on the sidelines.
Jones and Montgomery did not appear to have suffered any injuries in practice last week, which raises questions about why they were inactive. Could it be that both have already locked up their roles heading toward the regular season, with Jones possibly turning into a starting (slot) cornerback and Montgomery the heir to the receiving back role previously filled by since-retired veteran James White?
We can only speculate at the moment. One thing is certain, though: Jones and Montgomery not playing on Thursday was a major surprise. Maybe Monday’s practice adds some context to the situation.