The New England Patriots are a week away from another lengthy offseason break to recharge their minds and bodies for another Super Bowl run.
The Patriots just have to get through minicamp, then they’ll have over a month off before training camp starts up in late July. There isn’t a lot that changes in minicamp — teams still can’t use pads or shells — but it’s mandatory, so we might see more players show up for the practices. The Patriots have averaged around 70 players for the organized team activities sessions open to the media.
Before the Patriots make another surprising cut, let’s get into this week’s mailbag:
@DougKyedNESN who are our best bet at Starting Corners ?
The Patriots’ cornerback battle likely won’t be settled until the end of the summer, when roster cuts are made and the Patriots begin to game plan for their Week 1 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ll guess Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan will be among the Patriots’ top three cornerbacks, however. I think Butler will be one of the outside starters and Ryan will either play opposite the second-year pro or in the slot.
If Bradley Fletcher grabs a starting role, that would kick Ryan inside, and if Robert McClain is one of the top cornerbacks, then the Rutgers product would play outside.
Ryan had a great season in 2013 when he was able to receive consistent playing time, and it feels like his best play is yet to come. If Ryan is handed the reins as a starter, then he could replicate his five-interception rookie season.
@DougKyedNESN bequette really have a shot at TE?
It will be an uphill battle for the former defensive end, but it’s a good sign he still has a job with the Patriots while Tim Wright was waived.
Bequette certainly has the athleticism to play tight end, and his physical ability at defensive end could translate well into blocking. His ability to run routes and catch the football likely will dictate whether he still has a spot on the Patriots’ roster at the end of the summer.
Bequette could spend one more season on the team’s practice squad, which could give him more practice reps at his new position. He could be a valuable player to store on the practice squad because of his experience on offense and defense.
@DougKyedNESN who is standing out in OTAS so far
OTAs aren’t exactly where players make or break their spot on a roster — unless you’re Wright, that is, but Ryan and Scott Chandler have been impressive so far.
Ryan made plays in his first two weeks of OTAs during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills that showed off the ball skills that made him stand out in his first year in the league.
Chandler has been sure-handed and has shown off impressive athleticism for his 6-foot-7, 260-pound frame. He’s also been given special attention from starting quarterback Tom Brady in red-zone drills. Chandler appears primed for a big role in the Patriots’ offense in 2015 based on his use in OTAs.
One more player to watch in minicamp and training camp: linebacker James Morris. He could be primed for a top reserve linebacker spot with Brandon Spikes out of the picture.
@DougKyedNESN undrafted guy most likely to stick?
I think this year’s draft picks are going to have a difficult enough time making the roster given all the competition. The Patriots only have eight undrafted free agents on their 90-man roster: wide receiver Chris Harper, tight ends Jimmay Mundine and Logan Stokes, offensive lineman David Andrews, defensive tackle Vince Taylor, linebacker D.J. Lynch and defensive backs Jimmy Jean and Brandon King.
All of those positions are pretty stacked, but Andrews and Jean might have the best shot to make the roster based on the depth chart. The Patriots’ interior offensive line is wide open, and there’s a fifth cornerback spot up for grabs. Jean has tremendous length for the position at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds.
@DougKyedNESN with signing of Flynn am I crazy to think he can beat out Jimmy for the start in case Brady out. #FlynnFlashbacks
I think that’s a little crazy. Flynn will give Garoppolo some much-needed competition, but the second-year pro will almost certainly be the Patriots starter if Brady’s suspension holds.
Garoppolo was impressive in training camp and preseason last year, and it seems some are overreacting to his five-interception day at OTAs last week. Garoppolo has shown impressive poise and accuracy during the offseason workouts, and I expect him to play well if he has to start in Brady’s stead.
The Patriots needed a veteran body to backup Garoppolo if Brady starts the 2015 season with a suspension. Flynn provides that service much better than Garrett Gilbert, who was cut Friday.
Thumbnail photo via John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports Images