FOXBORO, Mass. — Some notes and nuggets from Monday’s New England Patriots media availability at Gillette Stadium:
— The Patriots’ decision to load up on veteran offensive linemen this offseason looks smart in the wake of rookie tackle Isaiah Wynn’s season-ending injury.
In addition to trading for Trent Brown, who’s set to begin the season as the starting left tackle, New England also signed tackles Matt Tobin and Ulrick John and interior O-linemen Luke Bowanko and Brian Schwenke, all of whom have at least four years of NFL experience.
This represents a significant shift from last summer, when the Patriots entered the preseason with six rookie O-linemen on their roster, including four undrafted free agents.
“Depth’s like an insurance policy,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “If you never need it, then you don’t need it. If you need it, then you’re glad you have it. You never know where you’re going to need it.”
Wynn, the lone rookie on the Patriots’ current O-line, saw time at left tackle, left guard and right tackle in practice before reportedly tearing his Achilles in last Thursday’s preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Though he was expected to compete with Brown for the starting left tackle spot, the first-round draft pick most recently had been splitting time with veteran LaAdrian Waddle on the right side with usual starter Marcus Cannon sidelined.
Waddle started five games in place of the injured Cannon last season, including one playoff game. He’s likely to begin this season as the Patriots’ swing tackle.
“(Waddle) has done a solid job,” Belichick said. “He’s an experienced player and has multiple years in our system playing both sides. He gives us a solid, consistent level of play.”
The Patriots returned four of five starters along the O-line, with left tackle Nate Solder being the lone departure.
— Belichick had high praise Monday for long snapper Joe Cardona, whose professional life is a balancing act between football and his duties as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
“Joe’s a very impressive person on a lot of levels,” Belichick said. “He’s just an outstanding example for all of us. His contributions and service to our country, his commitment to our football team and just his overall personal character and how good of a friend and teammate he is to everybody on the team. He’s a tremendous individual, and I’m glad we have him, glad we were able to work out an agreement with him to extend it.”
The Patriots signed Cardona to a four-year contract extension this past spring. The 26-year-old has played in every game for the Patriots since being drafted in the fifth round in 2015.
— The Patriots will hold practice Tuesday and Wednesday in Foxboro before flying to Charlotte, where they’ll take on the Carolina Panthers on Friday night in their penultimate preseason contest.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images