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A New Patriots Era Takes the Field in New England

New head coach Jerod Mayo and the Patriots rookies took to the practice fields on Saturday for the media's first access in 2024 as a new era begins.

Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo at Rookie Minicamp.
Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo at Rookie Minicamp.

FOXBOROUGH - A new era for the Patriots took another big step on Saturday as head coach Jerod Mayo and a collection of the team's rookies took to the Gillette Stadium practice fields for the first on-field media access of the 2024 season.

When fireworks went off above Gillette Stadium as the team was stretching, they weren't for a Patriots touchdown but they might as well have been to announce the new beginning that was taking place on the practice fields instead of Bridgewater State University's graduation.

"Yesterday was more of an evaluation day to see how these guys are physically and also mentally," said Mayo prior to practice. "Today, we'll have a little bit more as far as competitive drills, still following the rules. But it'll be good to see those guys actually going out there and playing football."

The team's veterans have been hard at work for over a month, but rookie minicamp is a sign that the full team is starting to come together and in the coming weeks OTA access will increase with both veterans and rookies.

Along with the team's draft picks several undrafted rookies and tryout players also joined the session, as the Patriots look to get their young new players up to speed as the offseason schedule continues to build toward mandatory minicamp in mid-June.

It was a partly cloudy and crisp May day, with the trees surrounding the stadium just starting to show signs of early leaves as a reminder of how far away the trying dog days of summer training camp are. Most of the session was occupied with individual position drills, with Drake Maye and Joe Milton getting some late work on a collection of running plays against air and then a final seven-on-seven period that closed out the day with some light competition.

After an initial incompletion, Maye connected on five straight passes to finish his day, including two connections to fellow draft picks Javon Baker and one to Ja'Lynn Polk.

Like all the rookies, the two drafted receivers have jumped into the deep end and are now trying their best to learn how to swim in the NFL.

"We're trying to find our routine and our schedule to be the best that we can be," said Polk, who described some extra late-night jugs sessions with Baker. "Then be able to lead the guys in the room and to feed off the vets and be able to pick their brains on the things that they do. It's exciting to be a part of something like this."

The Patriots draft class also features a pair of rookie offensive linemen, including third-round pick Caedan Wallace, who spent the brief team drills situated at left tackle, and Layden Robinson, who worked alongside him at left guard. Seen as one of the biggest needs in the draft for the team, Wallace, who played right tackle at college, told reporters he already has a level of comfort on the left side.

"I don't find it all too hard to switch over. So just I guess flipping things in my mind... hand placement, certain kicks, angles, things like that," said Wallace. "I played a lot of left in college practices. But I pretty much played all left in high school. And so, like I said, being able to work that throughout the years and then come out here, it's been sort of an easier transition. Not like completely easy, but it's been a little easier for me."

Offensive lineman Layden Robinson.
Offensive lineman Layden Robinson.

Robinson worked at left guard next to Wallace, as the two rookies are developing a similar bond to the one that Polk and Baker are developing at receiver.

"We've been bonding, just learn this playbook together but you know, he's my left tackle, and I'm left guard right now, so we expect communication is a big key part of this game," said Robinson. "So we've been doing that and we've just been having fun together."

The hour-long session was low on competitive information but it was a refreshing start. There's still a long way to go, but the process for 2024 is well underway, especially for a new head coach who just had his first official "aha" moment.

"It feels great," said Mayo of finally getting outside on the practice fields and practicing something that looks close to real football. "The first day I was out on the field, the guys were asking me, 'how does it feel?' It felt regular to me to be inside but as soon as I came out here and was able to like talk to different positions, that was like the "aha" moment."

DISCLAIMER: The views and thoughts expressed in this article are those of the writer and don't necessarily reflect those of the organization. Read Full Disclaimer

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