The 2023 New England Patriots practiced in front of reporters for the first time last Wednesday.

Most of the Patriots, that is.

Organized team activities are voluntary for all NFL players. So, it was not surprising to see a portion of New England’s 90-man roster sit out the team’s first open OTA. A total of 12 players were absent, including the Patriots’ No. 1 draft pick, their marquee free agent signing, their superstar edge rusher and a slew of starters on the offensive and defensive lines.

Ahead of the team’s second open OTA, which is scheduled for Tuesday morning, here’s a breakdown of the dozen players we have yet to see on the field this spring:

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CB Christian Gonzalez
Gonzalez was the Patriots’ top pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, but we don’t yet know how he’ll fit into their cornerback group because he was not present at last Wednesday’s practice. Will he be a Day 1 starter? A depth option behind Jonathan Jones and Jack Jones for now? TBD. The first-rounder did participate in the Patriots’ rookie minicamp and at least one of their first two OTAs, which were closed to reporters. It’s unclear whether last week’s absence was injury-related or by choice.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Like Gonzalez, Smith-Schuster was on the field during the first week of OTAs but not in attendance last Wednesday, meaning the media has yet to get a look at him in a Patriots uniform. The former Steeler and Chief projects as New England’s new No. 1 wideout after the team chose to sign him over Jakobi Meyers in free agency. Quarterback Mac Jones said he and Smith-Schuster have bonded over their “football nerd” tendencies, but developing their on-field chemistry must be a priority this spring and summer.

OT Trent Brown
One of just three returning members from last year’s offensive tackle group (along with Conor McDermott and Andrew Stueber), Brown projects as a starter again this season. It’s unclear, though, whether he’ll stick at left tackle (where he played last season and in 2018) or move back to right tackle (his position in ’21). Veteran newcomer Riley Reiff also can play both tackle spots and did so last Wednesday, rotating between right and left alignments.

OLB Matthew Judon
Judon also skipped OTAs last spring, so his absence likely is nothing to worry about. He was the Patriots’ lone Pro Bowl representative last season and has been their best defensive player since he arrived in 2021.

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G Mike Onwenu
Onwenu reportedly is recovering from offseason ankle surgery, which explains his sidelining. He’ll slot back into the starting right guard spot — where he played at a Pro Bowl level last season — once he’s healthy enough to return. Bill Murray, a converted defensive tackle who’s played just three career NFL snaps, was the top option at that position last week. Onwenu is the only player on this list with an injury that’s been publicly reported.

DLs Christian Barmore, Davon Godchaux and Lawrence Guy
The Patriots were lean on the defensive line last Wednesday, missing their top three D-tackles. Godchaux and Guy both played more than 500 defensive snaps in 2022 while Barmore missed half of the season with an injury. Barmore, a 2021 second-round pick, was excellent as a rookie and will enter Year 3 with high expectations.

K Nick Folk
The Patriots’ steady veteran kicker is facing his toughest challenge yet in the form of rookie Chad Ryland. Ryland will be expected to beat out Folk after New England traded up to draft him in the fourth round, making him the highest-drafted specialist of the Bill Belichick era.

LS Joe Cardona
Cardona is a roster lock after signing a record-setting four-year, $6.3 million contract this offseason. Tucker Addington handled long-snapping duties in his absence.

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OL Chasen Hines
We haven’t seen much of Hines since he was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed ailment last October. The Patriots’ decision to draft three interior O-linemen this year (Jake Andrews, Sidy Sow and Atonio Mafi) was not a great sign for the 2022 sixth-rounder. Hines has yet to play his first regular-season NFL snap.

CB Isaiah Bolden
The final member of New England’s 2023 draft class, Bolden was one of the nation’s top kick returners in 2021 before becoming a starting cornerback for Jackson State last season. He’ll have to earn his roster spot as a seventh-round pick.

Cornerback Marcus Jones, special teamer Cody Davis and tight end Scotty Washington were present at last Wednesday’s practice but did not participate. Running back Rhamondre Stevenson and wide receiver Kayshon Boutte were limited.

New England’s first of three mandatory spring practices is set for next Monday.

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Featured image via Oregon Ducks/CollegePressBox