Patriots: 10 Thoughts on Mandatory Mini-Camp

Mandatory mini-camp is over after Bill Belichick cancelled yesterday’s practice. The next time we see the Patriots together as a team will be the end of next month in training camp.

We got a pretty good look at what the 2022 Patriots will look like at this week’s mini-camp. Here are my observations.

  1. Cole Strange will make an immediate impact. He is athletic, smart, tough and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

  2. You couldn’t help but be impressed with second year receiver Tre Nixon. He made a couple of spectacular catches and looks like he has a rapport with Mac Jones. Nixon positioned himself to possibly make the team coming out of fall camp.

  3. Rookie cornerback Jack Jones had two good practices and at times repped with the ones. I said it when they drafted him in April. He was the best value pick in the class and a potential starter. Jones looked the part this week.

  4. Quarterback Mac Jones said yesterday that he was pleased with the performance of the offense this spring and that he is happy with his development. Jones came into the spring looking leaner and more comfortable in the system. Jones development has been a point of contention for this off-season, especially when it comes to who will call the plays.

  5. Jonnu Smith looked like a free agent bust last season but he had a strong spring and a good week at mini-camp. He looks more comfortable in the offense, his route running was cleaner and he made a handful of quality catches. The Patriots need Smith to be a factor in the offense and he looks like he’s poised for a big season.

  6. Trent Brown repping at left tackle is not a surprise. He should have been the left tackle last season. He has terrific feet for his size and his length is a problem, especially for speed rushers.

  7. The receivers had a strong week collectively. I still maintain there are a lot of mouthes to feed there. It will be interesting to see how they get the ball to all of these guys.

  8. The value of re-signing guys like Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and some of the team’s other core free agents really showed this week. The leadership they exhibited and what they do for the team beyond their play on the field is priceless. They get it and they are well respected. You see it with the young players when they are around them.

  9. Malcolm Butler looked good this week and looks like he will have no problem fitting in once again. Fellow free agent signee Terrance Mitchell also had two solid practices. Both are slated to play outside in the Patriots scheme.

  10. Bill Belichick bounced around over the course of the two practices which reinforces he will have his hand in every aspect of the team. He should. He’s the head coach. That’s what they are supposed to do. He can’t just stand there and twirl his whistle.