What to watch for at Patriots minicamp

What to watch for at Patriots minicamp
June 17, 2014, 12:30 am
Share This Post

Patriots minicamp begins Tuesday and will run for three days. Reporters have access to each of the sessions so we'll provide you with our observations everyday after the fact. But before the week's practices get started, let's lay out some of the storylines we'll be watching.

Belichick meets with media
Tuesday morning will be the first time Bill Belichick holds a press conference since the weekend of the NFL Draft. Not only will it be a good opportunity to get a grasp on what he's hoping to get accomplished this week following OTAs, it will also be a chance for reporters to check on the status of players like Aaron Dobson (who's behind schedule in his rehabilitation from foot surgery, per Nick Underhill of MassLive.com), Alfonzo Dennard (who wasn't seen during the three OTAs made available to the media) and Armond Armstead (who missed the last two OTAs with media present).

Easley introduction?
It's unclear whether or not we'll see Patriots first-round pick Dominique Easley this week, but we'll keep an eye out for him. The team may wish to keep him off the field until later in the preseason as he's still recovering from a torn ACL. Easley is one of the six remaining 2014 first-round picks who are unsigned.

Quarterbacks in focus
Ryan Mallett missed last Thursday's OTA and rookie Jimmy Garoppolo seemed to take advantage of his many reps with a solid day throwing the ball. We don't suspect Mallett's role as backup is in any serious jeopardy, but it will be interesting to continue to watch the development of Garoppolo, who displayed a consistently quick release during OTAs.

Sick bay
Rob Gronkowski, Vince Wilfork, Will Smith, DJ Williams and Matthew Slater have all been among the veterans who appeared to be limited in their work during OTAs. If any of them see an increased workload, we'll keep you apprised.

In a rhythm
Tom Brady and Julian Edelman appear to have not missed a beat since last season when Edelman went over 100 catches and 1,000 yard receiving for the first time in his career. They even hooked up for a handful of completions with new corner Darrelle Revis in coverage last week during OTAs. Brady seemed to also find a good connection with Danny Amendola during OTAs. Last week the trio spent time away from the rest of the team to work on the minute details of route running. We'll see if they do any work on the side again this week.  

LaFell's progression
Brandon LaFell was not present for last week's open OTA, meaning he missed two of three sessions that were available for media. With Dobson still dealing with an injury, LaFell and Kenbrell Thompkins represent the only experienced receiving options over 6-feet. LaFell could play a significant role in the offense this season if he catches on quickly so his progress will be one to track this week.

Return to normal
It's always interesting to note which players are returning kicks for the Patriots since they haven't had one particular go-to kick returner in years. Second-year receiver Josh Boyce and undrafted rookies Roy Finch and Reggie Dunn all had their chances in OTAs. Finch has quickness that seem to make him pretty elusive in the open field. Dunn can flat-out fly -- he returned five 100-yard kicks for touchdowns as a collegian at Utah, an NCAA rcord.