Voluntary Patriots OTA preview

The Patriots kickoff voluntary OTA’s today in Foxboro. Head Coach Jerod Mayo is scheduled to meet with the media at 11:30 am. After he meets with the media, the team will practice for two hours and then six players will meet be made available to the media at 2:00 pm.

The NFL allows teams to have team activities in three phases during the offseason. Today’s practice will be the first of ten practices and it will culminate with minicamp on June 10th-12th. 

The media will have access to a total of four OTA’s and the three mini camp practices next month.

There are no pads in these practices. They are designed to be instructional and emphasize drills, fundamentals and install. 

Here is what we will be focusing on today. 

1. Mayo leading the team: We got a glimpse of Mayo leading the team last weekend during rookie mini-camp but we will get more of a sense of how he will coach the entire team today. Mayo is considered a players coach and has intimated that he will trust his players and he will let coaches do their jobs. 

The players have seemed to like the vibe so far around the building. They have repeatedly stressed how energetic Mayo is but also how passionate he is. He can relate to the players but he also expects them to lead and run the team as well. 

It will definitely be a different feel from the Belichick era, especially for the veteran players. 

2. The offense: We will finally get our first glimpse of AVP’s offense and what we can expect from the Patriots this season. Will we see many of the same concepts we saw in Green Bay or will it be more like what we saw in Cleveland? We will see. The media and Patriots fans alike will get some answers today. 

I would expect very little today. Much of the off-season install will take place in the coming weeks ahead of training camp so what we see now will be the base offense. The good stuff won’t be installed until training camp.

3. Quarterback reps: We will get our first look at Jacoby Brissett. He is the presumptive starter so the expectation is he will get the first team reps. While Brissett will be a focal point, most eyes will once again be on rookie Drake Maye who will garner the most attention. Every snap he takes this spring will be heavily scrutinized, starting today. 

It will be interesting to see how many snaps he actually gets with the so called “ones.” Maye probably will not get many today but I would expect his reps with the top unit to increase as the spring goes on. 

4. Offensive line rotation: The offensive line will once again be a topic of conversation this season. The Patriots did add to this unit this off-season with the additions of Chuks Okorafor and Nick Leverett in free agency and Layden Robinson and Caedan Wallace in the draft. 

Robinson and Wallace repped on the left side in last week’s rookie mini camp so I would expect more of the same in OTA’s and minicamp. The right side of the offensive line is in good hands with Sidy Sow at right guard and Michael Onwenu at right tackle. 

One name we haven’t talked about is Cole Strange who is slowly recovering from knee surgery. It is highly unlikely we will see much of him this spring. The Patriots hope he is ready for training camp. 

5. Cornerback rotation: The cornerback position will be the most scrutinized position on the defensive side of the ball. Christian Gonzalez is returning from a shoulder injury so it will be good to see him in action and see what kind of shape he is in. 

Gonzalez will play the boundary corner which leaves some question marks in terms of who plays field corner, nickel and dime. For now, Jonathan Jones will more than likely play field corner with Marcus Jones playing nickel in the slot. 

Shaun Wade, Alex Austin, Isaiah Bolden, Marco Wilson and rookie Marcellas Dial will all compete to either start at field corner or play the dime spot and provide depth in the secondary. All six corners have length and provide position the coaching staff with position flexibility. 

6. Who is here? Remember, these workouts are voluntary until mini-camp. Attendance has been good thus far this off-season but there will be some key players who will either sit out the workouts or not be in attendance at all. 

OTA’s are important for several reasons. They help get you into game shape but they are also essential for building chemistry and cohesion. Having maximum attendance is important. In many ways, it is an indicator of where the players are mentally when it comes to the current state of the franchise.