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NFL Notes: Minicamp Saw More from Maye

After starting slow earlier in the spring, Drake Maye’s workload continued to rise through minicamp.

Drake Maye
Photo by Leanna Puccio
Drake Maye Photo by Leanna Puccio

The Patriots wrapped up mandatory minicamp with the second of two on-field workouts sandwiched around some community work, and it's hard not to notice the progress being made by Drake Maye.

After beginning the spring picking up limited reps following Jacoby Brissett and Bailey Zappe, Maye's workload increased to the point where Zappe was more of a bystander. Brissett and Maye basically split reps during minicamp with Brissett always going first and finishing with a few more opportunities.

The development was a welcome one for those still holding out hope that Maye could supplant Brissett and start the opener on September 8 in Cincinnati. In order for that to happen Maye will need as much work in practice as possible, and in turn Maye will need to show significant progress as he attempts to learn an NFL offense for the first time.

In full disclosure I still believe Brissett will open the season as the starter, but the early returns for Maye are promising. Maye looks more comfortable each time he takes the field, and while the results haven't necessarily been great, he's learning the ins and outs of the job.

"More and more, the huddle calls are coming together. I don't sound like I'm fumbling words in there," Maye said following the final practice. "I sound like I know what I'm doing. Mixing up a bunch of letters, a bunch of numbers, it's getting that down pat.
"It's a good thing I'm a pretty big dude in there. I look guys in the eye, not just looking down, and commanding it, and getting a good break. A good clap. It kind of gets you in a good mood. This is going to be a good play."

Some of those elements might appear to be routine for a quarterback taken with the third overall pick, but Maye spent his time calling plays from the sideline at the line and operating out of the shotgun. Learning the nuances of being under center, foot placement while taking shotgun snaps and calling the plays in the huddle are mostly new to him.

"I feel like I've made some progress. At the same time, I have a lot of work to go," Maye said. "I still haven't even been touched out there – I'm a quarterback in a red jersey. It's different taking hits from those guys, some big dudes up front."

As already mentioned, the results for the offense in general – not just when Maye has been at the controls – have been spotty at best throughout the spring. There were very few signs of rhythm, with timing consistently being disrupted by both an omnipresent pass rush and some difficulty creating separation for the receivers.

That was the case again as minicamp wrapped June 12, as the coverage was consistently preventing completions and making life difficult for both Brissett and Maye. But the final couple of series – makeshift two-minute drills – ended with some promise.

Patriots WR Kayshon Boutte
Patriots WR Kayshon Boutte

Even those possessions weren't particularly crisp, but there were some highlights worth discussing. Second-year wide receiver Kayshon Boutte came alive with a handful of catches from both quarterbacks, with a pair resulting in touchdowns from Maye.

Then on the final drive of minicamp, the defense made life very tough on Maye. After a pair of incompletions surrounding a sack, the coaches set the ball at the 8 with just one second remaining on the clock. At that point Maye looked to fellow rookie Ja'Lynn Polk and the pair connected on a corner fade for the touchdown.

Polk made a nice diving grab, landing just in bounds in the end zone while one official ruled the play incomplete, only to be overruled by a second who called it a touchdown.

Polk talked about the connection the rookies are trying to create through constant on-field work both during and after practice.

"The drive before, Drake goes 'Be ready,'" Polk said of the final catch. "We had an option to go fade or another route. I heard it in my head, him say 'I'm throwing that fade.' So, I was like, 'Go make a play.'"

Plays like that offer some hope for what might be in the future as the team's first two draft picks not only showed off their physical skills but also displayed some chemistry from their time working together. It also brought out some passion as the defense was adamant that the pass was incomplete and wasn't pleased when forced to do pushups for "losing" the final play.

While it was just one moment in an otherwise mundane minicamp, it was a great way to close out the offseason camps.

Money Matters

One of the disappointing elements of minicamp was the "hold-in" being conducted by defensive tackle Davon Godchaux. While in attendance as part of the mandatory practices, Godchaux did not take part in any of the on-field work and Jerod Mayo surprisingly addressed his inactivity.

"There are guys that want to redo contracts and stuff like that," Mayo said. "And not just DG, it's a bunch of guys that want to do those things, and we're working through it. Eliot [Wolf] and his staff, they do a great job as far as handling that. What I will say is one thing I've learned is sometimes the value that the team has on a person is a little bit different than the value that the market has on a person.

"DG, look, we want him here. He's one of our best players. He's working. I will say that. We look forward to getting him on the field in camp."

Godchaux is set to enter the final year of his contract, which is scheduled to pay him $7.15 million in 2024.

Finding Five

Patriots OL Mike Onwenu
Patriots OL Mike Onwenu

One of the more interesting developments of camp was the presence of Mike Onwenu at guard. Earlier in the offseason both Mayo and Wolf made comments that the veteran would play tackle, so seeing him move inside was perhaps a glimpse into the future.

"We're going to try to get the best vibe out there. It's hard to evaluate offensive line and defensive line during this time, so we'll see when training camp comes around," Mayo said. "But once again, we always talk about the more you can do: the versatility, not only with the players, but also the coaches. He's one of those guys that is blessed with that versatility to be able to play both spots."

Onwenu spent time at both guard positions at minicamp and at right tackle earlier in the spring. Rookie Caedan Wallace manned the right tackle spot while free agent addition Chuks Okorafor was at left tackle. It's possible that Mayo and the staff are still searching for the best five options, and moving Onwenu inside could allow that to happen. Sidy Sow, who played a lot of right guard as a rookie and earlier in the spring, spent Wednesday's practice on the left side. With veteran David Andrews in the middle, the possibility exists that that group represents the best five.

"At some point in time, it's, 'Alright, here's the depth chart. This is what it is,'" Mayo said of settling on five. "The offensive line, there should be no tighter group than the offensive line. Obviously, they're there to protect the quarterbacks."

Brady's Night

The Patriots tribute to Tom Brady for his induction into the team's Hall of Fame was a special night for all of those who experienced it. With more than 60,000 in attendance and hundreds of thousands more watching on Patriots.com, it was an event to remember.

The highlights for me came when the crowd got involved. Whether it was thunderous ovations for Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski, the extended ovation for Bill Belichick or the crescendo of "Bra-dy, Bra-dy" chants permeating the stadium when the man of the hour was introduced by Robert Kraft, it was the emotion of the fans that stood out the most. It was an opportunity to say good-bye and truly thank the franchise's icon in person, and it's one that won't soon be forgotten.

Presenting the best photos from Tom Brady's Patriots Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

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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