FOXBORO, Mass. — Isaiah Wynn’s New England Patriots coaches viewed last week’s performance as a positive first step for the young left tackle.
Wynn started Sunday for the first time since Week 2, making his long-awaited return from injured reserve in a 13-9 victory over the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. He played every offensive snap in the game, struggling at times in pass protection but boosting New England’s previously punchless running game.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he expects continued improvement from Wynn, the team’s top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
?I think it?s good to have him back out there,” Belichick said Wednesday. “He?s a good player. He hadn?t played in a little while. I?m sure each practice, each game, will be a little bit better for him. But he did a lot of good things for us. I?m glad we had him out there. He works hard to improve. I?m sure he?ll improve on a daily basis, like he has for the last three weeks he?s been out there at practice.
Wynn missed his entire rookie season with a torn Achilles, then suffered a toe injury that cost him half of his sophomore campaign. To date, the talented 22-year-old has played just nine quarters of regular-season NFL football.
Even with that limited experience, Wynn looked like a clear upgrade over his journeyman replacement, Marshall Newhouse. He had some early issues against Cowboys edge rusher Robert Quinn but settled in as Sunday’s game wore on.
“It was good to get Isaiah back out there, good for him to get back out there,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday. “I know he was eager to do that. There?s nothing that you can do to really simulate the movement and the speed of the game in a National Football League regular-season game. For any player coming off of a rather long period of time off, it is a little bit of an adjustment period. I think he acclimated well once he got settled in. He?s playing against good players over there on the left, and I thought he held his own. I thought he did some really good things and then did some things where we?ll look forward to improving this week.
“He knew it right away — we’ve talked since the game, and there?s an eagerness now to try to improve on the things that he saw and felt that he didn?t do as well as he wanted to. We surely think we can make progress and push forward this week with that. He tried to finish, he was physical. We ran behind him a little bit in the running game and made some yards, had some good blocks and had some things that we can work out. Always a good thing to get your first game under your belt after a long way off, and we look forward to having a good week of preparation and practice with him and hoping that he can continue to improve and get better as we finish the season.”
Wynn’s status for Sunday’s primetime matchup with the Houston Texans is unclear. He was one of eight players absent from Wednesday’s Patriots practice.