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NFL Notes: Ranking the Patriots Road Trips

With the regular-season schedule finally set to be unveiled, let’s rank the Patriots road trips in order of attractiveness for fans.

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Few sports entities know how to milk a situation quite like the National Football League, and the endless dragging out of the schedule release is just the latest example. Over the past week the league announced that the full regular-season slate will be announced on Wednesday – yup, the NFL officially announced an announcement.

That said, we will soon know the particulars of the Patriots 2024 schedule, but until then let's have some fun and rank the nine road trips by order of attractiveness for fans.

9. Buffalo – The Bills remain the favorite in the AFC East but let's face it, it's Buffalo and there isn't much that Josh Allen can do to change what will almost certainly be another gray day in Western New York.

8. Jacksonville – The Jaguars have some talent, and Florida can be an attractive trip but honestly Jacksonville shouldn't be confused with Miami or Tampa. This game could rise significantly if it's played in London, however.

7. New York Jets – Antiseptic stadium full of obnoxious Jets fans who will likely be even more unbearable if Aaron Rodgers actually makes it past the fourth play of the season.

6. Cincinnati – The Bengals and Joe Burrow are a formidable threat in the AFC, but the venue is average and the city doesn't offer much in the way of nightlife.

5. Arizona – The allure here is strictly weather, which is significant especially if it's late in the season. Otherwise not many plusses in going across the country to see the Cardinals.

4. Chicago – Great city, great tradition and the No. 1 overall pick in Caleb Williams. Weather could be a deterrent, but the Bears could be on the rise. Another possible London game.

3. Miami – Few venues feature as many Patriots fans as Miami, and with the combination of the weather, city and nightlife it's not hard to see why. Always a great trip for New Englanders.

2. San Francisco – A trip to the Bay area would be a welcome one for many fans, and the Niners have arguably the most talented roster in the league.

1. Tennessee – Nashville gets the top spot based on an incredible downtown experience coupled with the fact that the Patriots don't visit the Titans every year. This one will surely be at or near the top for Patriots fans this year.

Joint sessions

The Patriots line up against the Philadelphia Eagles during a joint preseason practice in 2021.
The Patriots line up against the Philadelphia Eagles during a joint preseason practice in 2021.

ESPN's Mike Reiss offers various Patriots nuggets each week in his notes and that was the case again on Sunday. Reiss wrote that Jerod Mayo and Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni have discussed the possibility of getting together for a single joint practice in Foxborough.

Reiss explains that the teams have met often during the preseason and are hoping to do so again in August during Week 2. If that's the case the teams would hold just one practice together rather than the two that have been typically held in recent years.

Reiss added that Mayo preferred the single session in part to limit the possibility of ill will and fighting to emerge between the teams during the second day of work. It would also be the only planned joint practice for the Patriots during the preseason.

Building bonds

One takeaway from rookie mini-camp over the weekend was the presence of the Patriots rookie offensive linemen chosen with back-to-back picks in the third and fourth round – Caedan Wallace and Layden Robinson. The pair lined up at left guard (Robinson) and tackle (Wallace) as the rest of the rookies and tryout players went through the paces over the weekend.

Wallace said he immediately contacted Robinson after learning they'd both been drafted by New England.

"Honestly, we've been inseparable since we got out here. So that's my guy," Wallace said after practice on Saturday."We walk around together, we eat together, study plays together. So, it's really cool."

Robinson offered similar sentiments, saying how the pair spoke at the Combine, and after the draft talked about getting to work when they arrived in Foxborough.

"We've been bonding, just learning the playbook together," Robinson added. "But you know, he's my left tackle, and I'm left guard right now. So, we expect communication to be a big key part of this game. So, we've been doing that."

In talking to their position coaches in college, Penn State's Phil Trautwein and Texas A&M's Steve Addazio, it was interesting to hear both refer to their players in glowing terms when discussing the quality of people they are as much as their ability. Addazio gushed about Robinson, referring to him as "a young man who loves cooking and loves his mother. It's hard not like a guy like that."

Based on the state of the depth chart, both could have opportunities to earn playing time sooner rather than later, particularly Wallace. With no proven left tackle option, he could be in a battle with Chuks Okorafor for a starting role. Of course, that's a long way down the road for two guys just getting started.

Meet the new boss …

Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel Eliot Wolf
Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel Eliot Wolf

Same as the old boss, as it turns out.

It came as no surprise when the Patriots officially announced Eliot Wolf as executive vice president of player personnel in a press release shortly after rookie minicamp finished up on Saturday.

What was a mild surprise, though, was the description of Wolf's responsibilities in the release. They will include "the overall direction of the personnel department, the management of the salary cap and control of the 53-man roster."

That's a departure from the setup under Bill Belichick for more than two decades. During that time, it was Belichick who had the final say in personnel matters. Wolf already let us know he would be making the call come draft time, but it was interesting to read that he will determine the makeup of the roster as well.

Perhaps as a first-year head coach Mayo is OK with ceding power over the makeup of his team, or maybe the coach will ultimately have more influence in that regard than the release seems to indicate. Either way it's something to keep an eye on in the future as conflicts with regard to roster decisions can be difficult to navigate.

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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