FOXBORO -- For every "Is this how the Patriots are really going to look this year?" moment that took place Monday's joint practice with the Jaguars, there could have been almost as many "Is he really going to be playing when it matters?" inquiries.
The Patriots are currently without a handful of presumed regulars for a variety of reasons, meaning players who look like depth pieces continue to get frequent reps to show what they can do.
Here's a quick rundown of the backups -- some impressive, some less so -- who are getting the most run...
Rex Burkhead, RB
With Mike Gillislee dealing with something that has kept him out of team drills for the last handful of practices, Burkhead has occasionally stepped in for short-yardage and goal-line situations and produced admirably. On Monday, he took a goal-line hand-off and was hit at the four-yard line almost as soon as he touched the football. Despite taking a shot, he kept his balance and fell forward into the end zone to his teammates' delight. Burkhead's willingness to fight through contact is something we highlighted in our film review of Burkhead's time in Cincinnati.
Gillislee seems to be on the mend -- he took part in positional drills Monday -- but Burkhead has done a good job of putting his versatility on display early in camp.
Brandon Bolden, RB
Another back who has tried to make the most of his opportunities with Gillislee down, Bolden has run hard and seen a great deal of work with Tom Brady and the rest of the top offensive grouping. Most importantly, he's taken care of the football. About this time last year, Bolden began having issues with drops and fumbles and his offensive role during the season was essentially nonexistent.
It seems as though the team is open to giving him a clean slate to start 2017, and he's handling his workload with much greater care.
Cameron Fleming, OT
Nate Solder has not taken part in team work over the course of the last several practices, leaving the top left tackle spot vacant. Fleming has been the beneficiary of the extra reps, but on Monday he had what may have been his most inconsistent practice. He was sent off for a lap early in the practice, and in 11-on-11 work, he appeared to give up what would have been sacks on back-to-back snaps to Jags pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. Fleming started Week 1 at left tackle last season with Solder out injured and performed admirably, but he may cede snaps to LaAdrian Waddle if he has more practices like Monday's.
Ted Karras, OL
Karras has been the No. 2 at every interior offensive line spot throughout camp, and regardless of where he plays, he seems to show up well. He doesn't seem to have quite the same movement skills as Shaq Mason, David Andrews or Joe Thuney -- which was on display during a screen pass with Karras out there during 11-on-11s -- but when he locks onto defenders, he rarely gets moved from his spot.
Austin Carr, WR
With Malcolm Mitchell and Danny Amendola both taking things slow early in camp -- Mitchell has not participated in team work since Day 1, and Amendola was not spotted working in 11-on-11 periods Monday -- Carr has seen his usage skyrocket. Quicker than fast and with sure hands, Carr seems to have made a positive impression on the Patriots coaching staff as he's seen work alongside
Brady, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan as recently as Monday.
Devin Lucien, WR
It's been an up-and-down last few days for the second-year wideout whose workload has seen a bump with the receiver group hurting for numbers. At Friday's scrimmage, he caught the only two scores of the day. And during one-on-one work Monday he ran a good corner route to free himself up to catch a Brady pass in the end zone. But as Monday's session wore on he dropped two passes and was whistled for a false start.
Adam Butler, DT
The undrafted rookie (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) isn't built like Alan Branch (6-6, 350), but perhaps Branch's stay on the PUP list has opened things up for Butler to show what he can do. He's shown impressive quickness in one-on-one periods, and he was out there with the top goal-line defense on Monday. He seems to earn more work from the Patriots coaching staff with each passing day.
Harvey Langi, LB
The Patriots are looking for someone to take Rob Ninkovich's role as a hybrid end/linebacker on the left edge, and Langi has been the guy of late. Where is his best fit? Is it as an end with his hand in the dirt, which is where he situated himself briefly on Monday? Or is it as a true outside linebacker who can stand up, cover and rush the passer? Seems like the team is still trying to figure that out. But the fact that he saw some run on Monday with a defensive front that included Trey Flowers, Malcom Brown, Vincent Valentine, David Harris and Shea McClellin is a sign that the Patriots are going to give him every opportunity to win a job...Even if that role might be best suited for Dont'a Hightower whenever Hightower returns from PUP.