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Five Takeaways From the Patriots Final Minicamp Practice 

The Patriots wrapped up the spring with one last practice session before summer break on Wednesday. Here's everything you need to know. 

Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10).
Patriots quarterback Drake Maye (10).

The Patriots are heading into the summer break following Wednesday's mandatory minicamp session that put a bow on the spring practice circuit.

One of the beauties of observing practices, whether it's this time of year or in training camp, is that your eyes can see whatever they want to see. After another clunky offensive performance, pundits could easily write a negative review of the offense. If you want to be glass half full, Maye's flurry to end practice showcased the positives.

We got a snapshot into the future when first-round quarterback Drake Maye hit second-round receiver Ja'Lynn Polk for a "game-winning" touchdown to cap off the spring for the Patriots' top two draft picks. With one second on the scoreboard, the offense scrimmaged from the nine-yard line. Maye saw Polk had a one-on-one matchup with undrafted corner Mikey Victor, and Polk ran a fade to the back right pylon, where Maye dropped a dime to give the offense a win.

New England's entire offense ran over to celebrate with Polk, but the referees in attendance were huddling. Did the Pats rookie wideout get two feet in bounds? It was a long discussion before the officials held two hands up to signal touchdown, and the offense erupted.

Maye's ending to practice included two touchdown connections with Kayshon Boutte, along with the toss to Polk as the exclamation point. The third overall pick has made positive strides this spring, buying into footwork changes, and is starting to grasp the concepts and verbiage of Alex Van Pelt's offense.

Speaking to reporters after Wednesday's session, Maye highlighted his areas of growth since arriving for rookie minicamp roughly one month ago.

"The concepts offensively and just timing up the footwork with it. Sometimes, it's hard to learn a new install each day. You're doing one or two reps for each play, but as you get into minicamp, you can do plays over and over and get a good grasp of it," Maye told Patriots.com. "I've made some progress, but at the same time, there's a lot of work to go."

Maye pointed out the obvious that, as a quarterback wearing a red non-contact jersey in practice, he has yet to be truly under pressure.

"It's different taking hits from those guys," Maye added.

Still, Maye is happy with the improvements in his footwork while grasping Van Pelt's left foot forward and under-center footwork while learning to run the huddle with AVP's sometimes wordy play calls.

Although spring practices concluded for veterans, the offseason program isn't over for Maye and his fellow rookies. The Patriots QB will remain in the area for two more weeks to continue conditioning while conducting throwing sessions with Polk and fourth-round wideout Javon Baker. Then, Maye will head home for a brief pause before training camp.

"First real break. Spend some time with family but still get to work. We have a season to get ready for," Maye said, who has been going since his pre-draft process began at the NFL Combine in February.

As a whole, the Patriots offense was consistent throughout the spring. The offensive line continues to be a potential fatal flaw, and you can tangibly feel the lack of a true difference-making playmaker at wide receiver. The combination of the two puts the heavy lifting on the scheme and quarterback to elevate the personnel. At times, that has led to negative plays for Jacoby Brissett and Maye.

Although it's far from perfect, it was a positive first impression for Maye overall. The Patriots top draft pick looks the part, with NFL-caliber traits, and he feels out the suit nicely. As a pre-draft Maye stan, I'm not taking any victory laps based on non-padded practices, but Maye is quickly closing the gap and has a real shot at being the Week 1 starter.

Here are five observations from the Patriots final minicamp practice to conclude the spring program:

1. Jacoby Brissett and Drake Maye Dominate Reps, Up-and-Down Results

As mentioned, Wednesday's practice began with a rough stretch of team drills for both Patriots quarterbacks. Here are my notes from their first drives in full team:

Brissett - late throw under pressure dropped by Jalen Reagor, nobody open, plus-throw on an out to Osborn, "sack" by Keion White, run stuff by Christian Barmore. One plus play out of five.

Maye - pressured into check down, wide receiver screen in the flat, thrown between two receivers under pressure (incomplete), pressure off the edge leading to INT. Zero plus plays.

The ensuing 7-on-7 period wasn't much better. The defense got their hands on three passes, with Brissett and Maye each throwing an INTable pass. Yuck. Maye's competitive stretch to end practice generated some positive buzz for the offense, but it was rough there for a while.

Although the red zone touchdowns were the highlights, Maye's best throw might've been when he held a zone coverage structure as Boutte settled into a void of space with Maye hitting him in-rhyhtm as a drive starter in the two-minute offense. Those well-timed in-structure plays will get Maye on the field early in the regular season.

Lastly, it's also worth noting that Brissett and Maye dominated the reps as the only two quarterbacks to take any 11-on-11 snaps (15 for Brissett, 12 for Maye). Bailey Zappe got a turn in 7-on-7 with four reps but zero for Joe Milton in a shorter practice.

New England needs the offense to be far more consistent, but Maye is making progress. His reps reflect that he's closing the gap in the coach's eyes as well.

2. The Ja'Lynn Polk Hype Train is Starting to Gain Steam After Slower Start to Spring

There are two ways to evaluate players during practices: the eye test and the numbers. The eyes have said for weeks that Polk is a smooth, sudden mover with the necessary twitch to separate, but he wasn't landing on the practice box score during team drills until recently.

In the two minicamp sessions, he has come alive. Polk had five catches in two sessions, including the walk-off touchdown and a crafty stick-nod route. On the latter, Polk faked an outside break and then cut into the middle of the field while tapping the toes in bounds on a well-placed ball by Brissett. Polk isn't going to run by anyone, but he has the quick-twitch movement skills to separate and finish with strong hands at the catch point.

Although it's hard to say what it'll amount to, these are the flashes you want to see from the 37th overall pick. We've seen more from Polk this week than Tyquan Thornton and N'Keal Harry showed at this juncture, for whatever that is worth.

3. Could Second-Year WR Kayshon Boutte Make a Roster Push?

The other wide receiver who turned heads in Wednesday's practice is 2023 sixth-round pick Kayshon Boutte. Boutte will need to sort out his off-field issues to be eligible to play, but he's showing up more in these practices than JuJu Smith-Schuster and has a similar playing style.

Boutte had a team-high five catches during team drills with a sequence where he hauled in three consecutive scores. To be fair, one might've been a pass breakup by Alex Austin in a live setting. Still, Maye connected with Boutte on a pretty back-pylon fade in the end zone that was a picture-perfect throw and catch. There's some baggage to sort through with Boutte's path to the 53-man roster, like Smith-Schuster's contract and a potential looming suspension. However, based on practice performance, Boutte set himself up to make a roster push in camp.

4. Patriots O-Line Might Already Be Giving Up on Two Position Switch Experiments

Before you read this as a negative, it's not necessarily bad that Mike Onwenu (RG) and rookie Caedan Wallace (RT) are seeing extended reps on the right side together.

New England's staff is searching for its "best five" along an offensive line that has struggled in non-contact practices. You can't finish blocks, so how much does that mean? Who knows. But this is what we all expected to see based on how the personnel looks on paper, and it hasn't been competitive at times against a good front.

You could say that the team's two biggest offseason investments, Onwenu to play right tackle and Wallace to flip sides to left tackle, are already flops. But it could also be that the Pats coaches like what they've seen from Wallace and LT Chuks Okorafor. To make room for Wallace in the starting five, the move is to slide Onwenu back inside. The positive spin is Wallace outplaying fourth-round guard Layden Robinson and veteran Nick Leverett. Simply put, Wallace is a better right tackle than Leverett and Robinson are right guards, so this is the way.

Admittedly, spring practices did nothing to alleviate concerns about the offensive line. However, let's wait for pads to freak out. Things can change when they can actually hit somebody.

5. Keion White and Alex Austin Tracking for Major Roles on Defense

After dominating for long stretches in the spring, we have to talk about the defense. For the most part, the usual suspects are doing their things. Christian Barmore has routinely wrecked team drills, while Christian Gonzalez and the Pats top safety duo (Dugger, Peppers) have controlled the backend. Matthew Judon also turned Vederian Lowe into a turnstile on one rep in Wednesday's practice – ho-hum.

The other spring standouts for the Patriots are second-year defenders Keion White and Alex Austin. White has moved around the defensive front, mostly playing in a two-point stance. He was rushing in line some and caused pressure twice. As for Austin, he has been competitive in coverage at outside corner. Austin's emergence began last season and could allow Jonathan Jones to return to the nickel spot—two guys to watch heading into camp.

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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