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MORSE: Second Patriots Open OTA, Blast from the Past, and Comings and Goings

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
6 months ago at 10:15 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Second Patriots Open OTA, Blast from the Past, and Comings and GoingsJay Biggerstaff - USA TODAY Sports

OTA Open to the Media

This was the second OTA open to the media.  The next is on Friday.

Bill Belichick stated that the Monday OTA was very good and that they would be scaling back the speed at this OTA.  Additionally, quite a few players were given the day off.  This included all the veteran three Wide Receivers (Thornton, Smith-Schuster, Bourne).  The highlight of this light practice was the first look at 1st round pick Christian Gonzalez.

Players Missing

Tyquan Thornton

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Kendrick Bourne

Michael Owenu

Trent Brown

Connor McDermott

Matt Judon

Lawrence Guy

Nick Folk

Bryce Baringer

Players on Rehab Field

DeVante Parker

Marcus Jones

Christian Gonzalez was described as smooth and his athleticism showed during a drill where the DBs high-pointed the ball.  The highlight was a one-handed catch with his size 9.5” hand.  Gonzales looked like he belonged with the D lineman with his height and length.  Immediately he was thrust into the 1st group at Right Corner, pushing Jack Jones to the second team.  Now let’s put this in perspective, no pads and at a slower speed.

Marte Mapu played exclusively at Safety during this practice with the Red Non-Contact jersey on.  Kyle Dugger, in a post-practice press conference, had an interesting response to a question about the hybrid S/LB.   “Anybody can be anywhere, so that’s definitely something we try to implement and use to our advantage. Mix things up for the quarterback, disguising, and things like that.  It makes it difficult for the offense to figure out. It allows us to do a little more with similar body types. You don’t know what you’re getting all the time from the offense’s perspective.”

The young receivers got a lot of work in what would be a hurry-up / quick-paced offense highlighted by quick passes and screens.  Kayshon Boutte got an earful from Bill O’Brien for lining up in the wrong spot.  This type of play from Boutte should be monitored.  If missing assignments becomes a problem, then Boutte will have difficulty making the team.  It could have easily been an isolated incident from a rookie.   After practice, Mac Jones kept Boutte, Nixon, Douglas, and Lee on the field for another 20 minutes.  Jones seemed to be having a good time at practice being animated and hooping and hollering when the offense made a play.  At the end of the extended practice, he tried to complete a long pass to the ground crew riding in a golf cart!   This was a great opportunity for the young players to get reps with the starting QB.

The use of two TE offense seems to be a thing to look for.  The combo of Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki could be fun to watch.   Bill O’Brien used Aaron Hernandez as a move TE and Rob Gronkowski as the more traditional in-line TE.  Look for Gesicki to be lined up all over the formation and Henry inside.  O’Brien even used two TEs in the backfield.  Both players saw plenty of reps with the top 4 WRs not participating in this practice.

The O-line had Reiff RT, Anderson LT,  Strange LG, David Andrews C, and the big surprise of the day was rookie Antonio Mafi at RG for injured Michael Owenu.  Mafi also filled in at LG for Strange after he was banished for getting into a fight.

Speaking of the fight, it started with Strange and Lawrence Guy but Christian Barmore quickly jumped in and threw a punch before David Andrews broke things up.  Even in non-contact drills things get heated.  Observers said that Keion White’s size stands out.  He was running with the 2s and looks very much like Deatrich Wise.  He is wearing number 51 (rookies don’t get their numbers until training camp) the same number as Ronnie Perkins.

The last point from the OTA was the punting of Corliss Waitman.  With Bryce Baringer absent, Waitman had the practice all to himself.  The left-footed punter put on quite the performance with 7 of his 12 punts with hang times of 5.0 or better.  That is impressive.

Next week, June 12-14 is Mini-Camp.  This is a mandatory practice and all players should be there unless they are hurt or holding out.  Trent Brown and Matt Judon may be holdouts since they are in the last year of their contracts and are looking for extensions.  The Mini-Camp practices are open to the media.

Blast From The Past

My buddy George Richman got me started on a quest to acquire a representative team of Patriots Football cards for each season the Patriots have been in existence.  George sold me his collection which got me started.  That was 5 years ago and I finally finished the acquisitions earlier this year.  Eventually, they will all be displayed in my Man Cave.

With the knowledge of all of these former Patriots players, I thought I would highlight some of them.  So this segment will be the start.

Tom Neville (1965-1977) played Offensive Tackle for four different Head Coaches over his 13-year career.  He played in 160 games, in 7 different “Home Fields”. provided this tidbit about a career that nearly wasn’t.  “When Neville arrived at Patriots Training Camp in 1965, wear-and-tear (from the 2- time All-SEC player) was beginning to catch up with him. He’d already had the kind of college production that would later earn him induction into both the Mississippi State and Mississippi Sports Halls of Fame. A knee injury incurred while playing both ways for the Bulldogs left him unable to pass the Patriots’ physical.”

According to Neville “They had said it was cartilage and it ended up being ligament. It was a complete tear,” remembered the now-79-year-old diamond dealer, speaking in a thick Southern drawl. “They were going to run us on the 40, and my leg wouldn’t bend enough. It kept catching in the grass. I couldn’t get down in a defensive stance and couldn’t get into the left tackle stance because it was the wrong leg that was extended.

“They wanted to send me home and come back next year. I said, ‘No, I’ve just driven thirteen-hundred miles, I’m not going home.’ They said, ‘Play right tackle.’ I was able to get down in a stance and I made the team. After the third game, I was able to get the starting position.”

Quickly carving out a niche for himself as an outstanding pass-blocker in Head Coach Mike Holovak’s offense, which featured Vito “Babe” Parilli at quarterback, Neville attended the Pro Bowl in 1966 and again two years later. The Patriots became his family, and when the identity of the team finally solidified, so did his role.”

Neville was selected to the All-60s and All-70s Patriots teams.   The Patriots beat out the Pittsburgh Steelers of the rival NFL for Neville’s services.

Comings and Goings

Hello Ed Lee

The New England Patriots agreed to terms with University of Rhode Island wide receiver Ed Lee on Monday, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.  In a breakout year, Lee had 58 catches last season for 908 yards and 5 TDs.  He isn’t the biggest player, standing just 5’8.3”, and 185 lbs at the Maryland Pro Day that he was measured at.  His 40-yard dash was 4.5 and he had an outstanding 6.84 Three-Cone drill.

He was named to the All-CAA Second Team as a wide receiver and the All-CAA Third Team as a punt returner. The Washington, D.C. native started all 11 games for the Rams.  He averaged 11.3 yards per Punt Return last season.

New England has some familiarity with Lee. He was part of the group that worked out at the Patriots’ local pro day prior to the draft, per’s Zack Cox.  Lee was also an invitee (without a contract) to the Patriots Rookie Camp and will be the 4th Undrafted Free Agent on the team.  This signing brings the roster to 89.

This may not be the flashiest move, but it does add additional depth to a wide receiver group that is strong. New England added Kayshon Boutte and Demario Douglas in the draft in addition to signing JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency.  At the very least, New England has potential production at the wide receiver group. It should make for a fun positional outlook heading into training camp.

Goodbye Justus Tavai

Jahlani Tavai’s little brother was waived by the Patriots last week.  In his one year with San Diego State, the DT was named the Polynesian College Player of the Year.  He played three years at Hawaii prior to San Diego State.

Thanks For All The Well Wishes

I am recovering nicely from an ongoing health problem.  Ian posted that I had a recent health scare, and I am grateful for all the well wishes that I received.  What should have been a simple day surgery, ended up as a week in the hospital.  My doctors have eliminated the most serious possibilities but discovered I have additional heart issues.  These can be easily controlled by medicine, diet, and exercise.  Hopefully, I will be writing articles for a long time.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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