New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady showed up for mandatory minicamp and like that, poof. He’s gone.
Brady likely will skip the final week of Patriots organized team activities, leaving passing duties to Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham and Danny Etling.
The Patriots will then be off for the early part of the summer from June 11 — their final day of OTAs — until they reconvene for training camp in late July.
Brady will be back for training camp, but will he have a new contract by then?
Let’s get into what we learned during minicamp in this week’s mailbag.
Who do you think is gonna have the biggest breakout season this year? #MailDoug
I’m assuming we’re removing rookies from the equation.
My top choices would be running back Sony Michel, wide receivers Maurice Harris and Phillip Dorsett, tight end Matt LaCosse, offensive lineman Joe Thuney, linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and cornerback JC Jackson.
Michel is sitting out of spring practices, so that’s not a great start. Dorsett and LaCosse both are listed mostly because of opportunities. There aren’t a lot of other options at wide receiver and tight end. Harris actually looked better than Dorsett during the spring. I think Thuney could emerge as one of the best guards in the NFL (assuming he doesn’t move to offensive tackle). Bentley and Jackson are both second-year players with a chance to start.
Jackson would be my top choice.
SUP DOUG! Can you please tell me why Matt LaCosse is going to be any different from Zach Sudfield, AJ Derby or Jacob Hollister? All are of similar size and were preseason legends before flaming out when the games started to count. Tell us why LaCosse is going to stick.
— Steve (Boston)
The main reason is there’s no one in front of LaCosse on the tight end depth chart. Rob Gronkowski is retired, Dwayne Allen and Austin Seferian-Jenkins were released, and Ben Watson is suspended for the first four weeks of the summer. Someone has to step up at tight end, and LaCosse currently is the odds-on favorite.
I have no idea what to expect from LaCosse this season. He could wind up with 100 yards or 500 yards. But, for now, he’ll most likely top the depth chart for the first four weeks of the season. Sudfeld, Derby and Hollister never really had those fight-or-flight opportunities with other guys in front of them on the depth chart.
Can we get a cumulative rookie update
Sure. I’ll exclude the guys I don’t really have an update on after minicamp because of their positions or lack of activity.
QB Jarrett Stidham — Wasn’t terrible. And that’s pretty much what you want out of a rookie quarterback in spring practices. We’ve only seen him throw one interception through four practices. That’s a good sign.
RB Damien Harris — Has some good hands from what we’ve seen. He’d benefit if Sony Michel is going to be limited at all this season.
WR Ryan Davis — Had some drop issues in recent sessions. Moves pretty quick as an undersized slot.
WR N’Keal Harry — Shined in the first OTAs session open to the media but had some growing pains during minicamp.
WR Jakobi Meyers — Working with the second-team during practice. He’s a “catches everything” type of guy.
WR Gunner Olszewski — Has really soft hands for a college cornerback. Also quick but needs to be coached up and groomed.
TE Andrew Beck — He’s spending a lot of time with fullbacks, which is interesting given the Patriots’ lack of depth at tight end.
S Malik Gant — Had a pass breakup in team drills Wednesday.
CB Ken Webster — Bigger than I expected him to look. He’s bulked up for a cornerback.
CB Joejuan Williams — Growing pains similar to Harry. I still think he’s best as a matchup guy against bigger receivers and more athletic tight ends.
Whats an honest evaluation of Braxton Berrios now that youve seen him last training camp/OTAs/Minicamp and this years OTAs/Minicamp
He’s definitely showing up more than the did last year.
I think there’s some potential. He looks pretty quick and fast, but he’s not quite consistently standing out of the crowd just yet.
He’s firmly on the roster bubble.
How different do you see the Patriots offense being this season compared to last? Do you think they run even more with a focus on big plays?
I think it might have to be significantly different because of the lack of pass-catching talent. They’re definitely going to have to rely on the run game a lot more. That means we could see Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris each come away with a significant amount of carries by season’s end.
Edelman will be the top receiver, and James White likely will be No. 2. The biggest question is who’s going to be No. 3? Phillip Dorsett? Maurice Harris? Demaryius Thomas? Josh Gordon? Matt LaCosse?
It’s up in the air.
Maurice Harris the real deal or not? I hate getting hyped up over practice.
He’s been really good at minicamp, but I’m unsure how that will translate to training camp, the preseason and possibly the regular season when the pads come on.
The fact is, Harris simply hasn’t done much in his three-year NFL career outside of one 10-catch, 124-yard performance last season. It’s very interesting to me that the Patriots seem to see him as a slot receiver. And he’s currently their top slot option on the first-team offense.
“Real deal” is strong. Right now, he has the inside track for a roster spot. I’ll say that.
Meyers was playing as a 2nd team WR yesterday (and maybe today, don’t know yet) already. Do you think coaches like him or we’re just short of the good guys at the position? I’d love him to be on the final roster, but don’t see a place for him as of now.
It’s a little bit of both. Jakobi Meyers also was spending some extra time with Tom Brady during Thursday’s practice.
It seems Meyers is above veteran Dontrelle Inman on the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart. So, that’s an accomplishment in itself as an undrafted rookie.
And I definitely think there’s room for Meyers on the roster. The only real locks at the position are Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and special-teamer Matthew Slater. So, Meyers will be competing with outside receivers Dorsett, Inman, Damoun Patterson and Demaryius Thomas and slot guys Berrios, Davis, Maurice Harris and Gunner Olszewski for those final two or three spots.
Let’s go rapid fire.
Do the patriots have the player talent and depth to make up for a unfilled defensive coordinator? #MailDoug
I think the Patriots’ defense is in pretty good shape. And it seems like Bill Belichick likely will just take on a bigger role to fill that void. The Patriots have some good minds in their defensive coaching staff with Bret Bielema and Jerod Mayo on board.
Losing Trey Flowers at defensive end hurts, but Michael Bennett is a good replacement, and I think Mike Pennel could be an improvement over Malcom Brown at defensive tackle.
@DougKyed thoughts on 12 or 11 making the roster?
Hmm, odds are looking pretty good. Let’s see how they compete in training camp first, though.
Do you see any other major additions to the roster before training camp?
I could see the Patriots signing a veteran tight end to fill the final spot on their roster before training camp begins in late July.
whats your favorite pizza
Currently, a thin crust bacon pizza from Town Spa, crispy with burnt edges.
Conspiracy theory: Pats are telling Gronk to tell the media he is staying retired, but Bill and Gronk have secretly negotiated a post-Thanksgiving return. What are your thoughts? #MailDoug
You might need to loosen your tinfoil hat.
Did Belichick sign Matt LaCosse because his name sounds close to “lacrosse”. Will this help him make the team? #MailDoug
It can’t hurt.
Do you think Thomas starts on PUP? #MailDoug
It would make a lot of sense to start Demaryius Thomas on the physically unable to perform list this summer. If he gets healthy before September, then remove him from the list. If he doesn’t, then he’s instantly added depth after Week 8.
What is going on with Sony Michel? Why so secretive? Do you have any insight? Merci 🙏 #MailDoug
I don’t know. I do wonder if the Patriots are simply managing his workload in practice the same way they tried with Malcolm Mitchell given the history of knee issues for both players.
Ryan Griffin or Kyle Rudolph? Which is more likely. Will there be anymore competition at TE
Griffin, because he’s a free agent. The Patriots would have to open up cap room to trade for Rudolph, and we’re not quite sure he’s worth the $7 million price tag.
Is Zdeno Chara the toughest athlete in Boston
He has to be. The thought of playing a hockey game with a broken jaw is unfathomable.
I’d say Tom Brady, Patrick Chung and Julian Edelman are the toughest players on the Patriots.
How is Collins looking?
Actually really good. Jamie Collins got a lot of time with the first-team defense with Kyle Van Noy limited, and he was making plays. I think he could compete for a starting role.
Two part. Do you have a preference of ketchup and if a restaurant doesn’t have your favorite brand of condiment would you ever take a picture of it and send it to radio personality?
I don’t know what this is in reference to, but it does give me the opportunity to say Heinz Jalapeno Ketchup is delicious, and if you care if other people put ketchup on a hot dog, you might be a weirdo.
How can you not root for Gunner to make the team?
It would be unbelievable if the Patriots took a Division II cornerback and turned him into an NFL wide receiver.
I root for good stories, and you can’t get much better than that one.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images