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Patriots OTA Notebook: Rookie Marte Mapu has a big day in the secondary

Notes and observations from the Patriots’ organized team activity practice on Friday.

NFL: MAY 31 New England Patriots OTA Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots held their eighth and final organized team activity of the offseason on Friday, in what was again a slower-tempo practice.

Here’s what went down on the back fields of Gillette Stadium.


Did not practice: DB Jalen Mills, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, LB Matthew Judon, WR Tyquan Thornton, DB Cody Davis, CB Jonathan Jones, LB Josh Uche, LB Anfernee Jennings, WR Kayshon Boutte, LB Terez Hall, P Bryce Baringer, OG Mike Onwenu, OT Trent Brown, OT Riley Reiff, DL Davon Godchaux, DL Lawerence Guy Sr.

Red non-contact jersey: LB Marte Mapu


Marte Mapu shines: The versatile rookie has impressed through a handful of open OTAs, and he again caught the eye on Friday. Working from mostly the safety spot again, Mapu recorded an interception off a Bailey Zappe pass — a would-be pick-six — during an 11-on-11 drill. The rookie didn't go away, as he later fired downhill to break up another pass over the middle of the field intended for wide receiver Ed Lee.

Back and forth battle: Mac Jones and the Patriots offense got an early lead in 11s, as the QB hit DeVante Parker on a dig route before hitting Hunter Henry in tight coverage up the seam. After a strong start, however, New England’s defense fought back. Ja’Whaun Bentley batted a ball right into the hands of Kyle Dugger, before Mapu made his presence felt.

Christian Gonzalez still involved: New England was missing Jonathan and Marcus Jones, as well as Jalen Mills, on Friday. First-round draft pick Christian Gonzalez, meanwhile, was again thrown right into the top group at outside cornerback opposite of Jack Jones.

O-Line shuffle: Projected top-two tackles Trent Brown and Riley Reiff were absent Friday, while starting right guard Michael Onwenu (ankle surgery) remains sidelined. That meant quite the game of musical chairs up front for New England’s offensive line. Calvin Anderson continued to protect Mac Jones’ blindside while Conor McDermott handled right tackle duties. When McDermott was sent for a lap at one point, rookie Sidy Sow was first up to replace him. At right guard, it was a rotation between Jake Andrews, Bill Murray, and Atonio Mafi next to David Andrews. The rookie Andrews even got some late snaps at center with the veteran resting.

Special teams show: In an overall lighter day, there was plenty of special teams work done. Nick Folk made his first appearance of the offseason in front of the media and got some kickoff work in along with rookie Chad Ryland. The two closed practice alternating field goals with Folk up first. The veteran went 2-for-4, while the rookie hit 1-of-2 with the third kick being too tough to call from this vantage point.

Other notes:

  • Beyond McDermott, Hunter Henry and Daniel Ekuale were sent on laps for false start penalties.
  • In a light day for Rhamondre Stevenson, Pierre Strong Jr. was first up in the backfield next to Mac Jones during 11s. J.J. Taylor followed while Ty Montgomery worked in with the wide receivers.
  • After Zappe’s interception to Mapu, the sophomore QB bounced back in a nice way. He attacked a blitzing Brenden Schooler from the secondary and hit Kevin Harris out of the backfield for what would have been a touchdown.
  • Rookie Keion White continues to be involved with the regulars. He’s shown solid explosiveness and recorded what looked like a would-be sack on a stunt today.
  • With several edge defenders missing, Ronnie Perkins was more involved with the second unit this afternoon. Perkins was around the ball a few times, picking up what also appeared to be a would-be sack. Perhaps this is the summer the former third-round pick can finally make a surge for playing time.

While the Patriots are officially finished with OTAs, they will be back on Monday for the start of a currently scheduled three-day mandatory minicamp. Media will be in attendance all three days from Monday to Wednesday.