The Patriots canceled their final mandatory minicamp and voluntary OTA practices this week, putting a cap on what was the 2022 offseason. The next time they'll be back on the field will be at the start of training camp at the end of July.
In all, the media got a glimpse at four practices this spring, two voluntary OTA sessions and this week's two minicamp practices. With the disclaimer that these are teaching camps that were practically devoid of truly competitive periods, there were still some significant things to take away as the team has begun to take shape.
Here are 5 key takeaways from May and June's on-field sessions.
Mac Jones, QB1
It's been apparent throughout the offseason that Mac Jones has been 100 percent locked in on being the best quarterback for the New England Patriots that he can be and the results showed up on the field this spring, where Jones looked poised to take a significant Year Two jump. His downfield connections were well-chronicled, but what stood out just as much was how he's taken ownership of the offense and has embraced his role as starting quarterback. With new weapons at his disposal, Mac and the offense look like they have a lot of potential.
Quality depth at RB, WR, TE
With the return of all the 2021 weaponry as well as the additions of DeVante Parker and the rookie running backs and receiver, this is a really deep group of weapons. Is there a known number one elite playmaker? Probably not, but it's as vast a collection of two's and three's as you'll find in the league. Across the position groups, there's every flavor...size, speed, experience, youth. The only question, and it's a big one, is how it all comes together and who Mac clicks with the most. Obviously, Tre Nixon is now on everyone's radar and has added some unexpected intrigue. Unfortunately, injuries will play a role, but it looks like Jones has a lot to work with this summer.
Isaiah Wynn hadn't been spotted at OTA practices so his arrival at right tackle in limited glimpses during minicamp was a surprise. Many long speculated that Wynn would be headed inside to guard but, instead, it looks like he might actually be flipping sides with Trent Brown this season. Wynn's athleticism on the outside next to stout guard Mike Onwenu could be a way to replace some of what was lost with Shaq Mason. Wynn could still land back on the left side once camp arrives, but the Patriots don't do things by accident and the adjustment on the edges is likely calculated. Backups Justin Herron and Yodny Cajuste could be called upon to play major roles if injuries strike Brown and/or Wynn.
New Linebacker Look
While the defensive front and back end are manned by Patriot veterans, the linebacker group has some new faces very much in the mix, starting with Raekwon McMillan, Josh Uche and Mack Wilson. Anfernee Jennings and Ronnie Perkins should also get long looks on early downs and passing downs respectively as well. What's clear is that at least a couple of these guys are going to have to make some big contributions this season if the defense is to take a step forward. At least from OTAs, it would appear that McMillan and Uche are the top candidates for the biggest roles.
Open competition in secondary
The secondary certainly has some questions at outside cornerback, but the depth at safety is as good as it is for the weapons on the offensive side of the ball. The core group of McCourty, Dugger, Phillips, Peppers and Bledsoe is just the start of it, because Jonathan Jones and Myles Bryant both have no problem playing safety as well. There are a lot of matchup pieces but not much clarity beyond the returning vets McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Phillips and Dugger. Peppers is still recovering and hasn't really even entered the fray yet. His presence could have a big impact on how things look in August. Either way, the competition should be fierce this summer across the secondary for both starting jobs and sub-package roles.