It hasn’t exactly been a smooth start for Isaiah Wynn’s NFL career. After being selected in the first round in 2018, Wynn ruptured his Achilles during the preseason opener and missed his entire rookie season.
Lingering effects from that injury have slowed his progress in Year 2 as well, and although he’s been in uniform for every practice this summer he had mostly been relegated to mental reps and spectator status.
That changed on Monday as the former Georgia Bulldog saw his most extensive work of camp. He started his work in 1-on-1s against the defensive lineman early in practice, handling himself well in his first rep. Later, he lined up at left tackle for two late periods of 11-on-11 offense with the first group.
Aside from a handful of reps against a defense here and there, it was the busiest we’ve seen Wynn since before his injury last summer.
“It felt good to be able to do a little bit more,” Wynn said after practice. “I just want to keep progressing.”
Wynn’s work in the individual drills featured reps in 1-on-1s as well as 2-on-2s. It’s possible he’s done that prior to Monday but it was the first time I noticed him working in that setting.
There were a couple of periods when he worked at left tackle in a group with Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaw Mason and Marcus Cannon with Tom Brady and the rest of the offense. He took on Dont’a Hightower on one play and also faced Derek Rivers and Trent Harris. He appeared to hold up well in pass protection and didn’t allow any noticeable pressure.
Wynn said the toughest part of the inactivity has been staying sharp, but he’s received plenty of help from his teammates along the way.
“You have to be able to learn as you go,” Wynn said. “You should never be satisfied with your level of preparation. Being able to play next to Joe Thuney and David Andrews and Shaq and Marcus has really helped. Being able to pick their brains all the time helps a lot.”
As for knocking off the rust, Wynn felt just being back in the lineup was a huge boost.
“You’re always working to get better,” he said. “The tempo at practice is the closest thing you can get to game speed other than a game, so being able to be out here is important. I’m really looking forward to getting back into game action, but being back out here really is the biggest thing right now.”
Beyond Wynn’s increased role, here are some observations from the Patriots 11th practice this summer and seventh in full pads.
*There was some movement on the attendance list Monday as Nate Ebner and Ken Webster were removed from PUP and practiced for the first time. Rex Burkhead also made it back in uniform and took part fully in the two-hour session. Lance Kendricks returned after missing four full practices and the preseason opener against Detroit. He joined Patrick Chung in red, non-contact jerseys.
*There was an offensive lineman donning the No. 74 taking part in drills throughout practice. He appeared to be similar on stature to Cole Croston, who was released by the team earlier in camp. No official word on the newcomer as of yet.
*The new on the injury front wasn’t all good, however. N’Keal Harry and Matt LaCosse both suffered injuries in the win over the Lions and weren’t in uniform. Rookie defensive back D'Angelo Ross also was not spotted. It's possible he was let go to make room for the new offensive lineman. Harry appeared to sustain a hamstring injury during joint practices in Detroit but suited up and caught a pair of passes in the game against the Lions. He came up limping after the second catch, though, and did not return. LaCosse appeared to be in significant pain before being helped off the field during the second half and also didn’t return. Julian Edelman (thumb), Yodny Cajuste (quad) are still on NFI while Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) and newcomer Cameron Meredith (knee) remain on PUP.
*Perhaps related to the LaCosse injury, the Patriots reportedly traded for tight end Eric Saubert. New England sent a conditional seventh-round pick to Atlanta for the third-year tight end, who has played in 30 games over two seasons and has five catches for 48 yards – all coming last season with the Falcons. The 6-5, 253-pound was a fifth-round pick out of Drake in 2017 and projects as a blocking tight end.
*There were some special guests on hand for practice as Bill Belichick favorite Jon Bon Jovi and Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy both spent time chatting with the coach. The day opened with plenty of Bon Jovi selections blasting over the loud speakers. Also, former Patriots linebacker Niko Koutouvides was on hand with his children and chatted with his former coaches after practice.
*The early 1-on-1 battles between the offensive and defensive line set a tone for the day. One particular rep involved Cannon and Michael Bennett, which the tackle throwing the defender down to the turf to end the play. There may have been some lingering ill will because much later during 11-on-11 work there was another chippy incident involving Bennett that Cannon quickly got involved in. Bennett went against Skipper on a run play and the tackle seemed to neutralize him and finished his block effectively. Bennett took exception and took a swipe at Skipper’s head, which led the tackle to illustrate his displeasure with a hand gesture (two of them in fact). As the two began to face off, Cannon came over quickly to voice his displeasure. Nothing came of it but tempers definitely seemed to be running high at that moment.
*There was a lot of special teams work during practice and Ebner was right back in his normal role as the personal protector on the punt team. Both Ryan Allen and Jake Bailey did some kicking while Gunner Olszewski, Jakboi Meyers and Rex Burkhead handled the returns. It was the first time I remember seeing Burkhead in that role this summer.
*The offense spent a lot of time working on the screen game with the backs and receivers all involved. There were traditional screens as well as misdirections and wide receiver versions throughout the morning. The running game also got some work.
*The passing game continues to be a work in progress. The defense was quite active, coming up with several interceptions and passes defenses throughout practice. Patrick Chung victimized Brady on one red zone throw in 7-on-7 work. Burkhead was able to make a play to close out that drill, however, when he got free crossing the field along the backline of the end zone and made a nice diving catch.
*Meyers continued his strong work with another day that featured several catches. He did a nice job in individual drills against Jonathan Jones, being the slot corner with a solid outside/inside move on an in-cut that resulted in a catch. Meyers made a terrific leaping catch for a touchdown during 11-on-11 and then finished the day with a beautiful back shoulder grab down the seam in a two-minute drill.
*Maurice Harris also turned Duke Dawson around during 1on-1s with a nice double move.
*The kickoff team also got some work later on practice and Ebner was back in the mix on that unit as well. Shilique Calhoun worked with the second group as he looks to establish a special teams role that could enhance his odds of making the final roster. Obi Melifonwu was part of the first group, which could be a positive sign for the safety as well.
*Ebner and Matthew Slater worked together on the opposite field during 11-on-11 periods. Slater raced upfield in coverage while Ebner would do his best to mirror him as a blocker. The pair spent quite a bit of time together in that capacity.
*Stephen Gostkowski ended several 11-on-11 periods with field goals with Jake Bailey holding. Gostkowski made all but one attempt as he hooked one to the left following the second “drive.”
*Joejuan Williams did a nice job staying with Maurice Harris on a deep pattern down the right sideline. Harris couldn’t get position on the rookie, who managed to knock the pass away with an impressive leap.
*At the end of practice the defensive backs worked on tracking deep balls for potential interceptions on passes thrown over the shoulder. Meyers, a college quarterback in his early days at N.C. State, threw all the passes.
*There was a large group of Patriots who spent time the media after practice. That group included Gostkowski, Hightower, Phillip Dorsett, Adam Butler, Brian Hoyer, Ryan Izzo, Kendricks, Wynn, David Andrews, Terrence Brooks, Duron Harmon, Jones, Burkhead, Braxton Berrios, Allen, J.C. Jackson, Brandon Bolden and Devin McCourty.
*The Patriots final training camp practice in Foxborough open to the public will take place Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and is expected to wrap up at approximately 11:40 a.m. As always, please check Patriots.com for the latest updates for practice times.