The New England Patriots will begin their summer vacation later this week — five weeks away from the practice field before training camp begins in late July.
As the players pack up their playbooks and finalize their travel plans, let’s hand out some final grades from organized team activities and minicamp.
The starting wideouts
Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan all looked excellent, with newcomer Cooks hauling in two or three of the most impressive catches of the spring. The former New Orleans Saints speedster has seamlessly fit into a Patriots receiving corps that, barring injury, should be absolutely lethal this season. Danny Amendola also had a solid few weeks, but Malcolm Mitchell is recovering from an undisclosed injury and has yet to practice with the team.
The starting cornerbacks
On the other side of the ball, the 1-2 punch of Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore look just as formidable. Butler missed the final minicamp practice but otherwise looked like himself, breaking up four passes in team drills over the four sessions in which he participated. Gilmore, meanwhile, showcased a blend of size, athleticism and physicality that should stand out even more once the pads come on next month.
Rowe is the Patriots’ third-best cornerback behind Butler and Gilmore, and he enjoyed a strong spring, intercepting a pass from Tom Brady and breaking up multiple others. It’s still unclear how New England will use Rowe this season, but he saw time both outside and in the slot in these sessions.
Kenny Moore and Harvey Langi
Of the 21 undrafted rookies currently on the Patriots’ 90-man roster, Moore and Langi have been the most impressive thus far. Langi, the NFL’s highest-paid UDFA, is the more highly touted of the two, while Moore entered the spring as a relative unknown after completing a four-year career at Division II Valdosta State.
Breaking news: Tom Brady still is very good at quarterbacking. Brady easily was the best QB on the field in all five open practices, and he saved his finest showing for last, completing 35 of 43 passes in Tuesday’s OTA. Two of those incompletions were drops, and another was a throwaway.
It’s far too early to get worked up over dropped passes, but Allen had a whole bunch of them in OTAs and minicamp — not the impression he wanted to make after coming over from the Indianapolis Colts in an offseason trade. Granted, Allen is more of a blocking tight end than a receiving threat, and it’s worth noting that Rob Gronkowski had about a dozen drops in training camp last year. Still, the ex-Colt will need a better showing come training camp if he wants to earn a significant role in the Patriots’ loaded offense.
As we’ve stressed several times here, Garoppolo wasn’t awful this spring. His performance in these practices is no cause for alarm by any means. But he was less consistent than he was in this same setting last year, completing less than 50 percent of his passes in 11-on-11 drills before sitting out the part of the final minicamp practice and all of Tuesday’s OTA with what reportedly was a minor leg injury. Garoppolo took just four snaps in 11-on-11s last Thursday and spent nearly all of Tuesday’s session doing conditioning work on a separate field.
Jones is under the microscope after struggling as a rookie, and he didn’t rise to the occasion this spring, muffing at least one kick or punt in three of the five sessions that were open to the media. Fellow second-year pro Jonathan Jones also has outplayed him at cornerback thus far.
Augusta, an undrafted rookie defensive tackle, is a long shot to make the team anyway, but his inability to complete two laps around the practice field during minicamp was a bad, bad look for a professional athlete. The defense was ordered to run two more laps Tuesday, and Augusta again lagged far behind his teammates.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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