Five things to track during Patriots mandatory minicamp
The Patriots begin their three-day mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. The practice sessions, which will last for about two hours each day, will be open to the media but closed to the public.
Here are five story lines we'll be watching over the course of the next few days . . .
1. WHO'S IN, WHO'S OUT?
Attendance will be interesting to track on all three days of minicamp, but particularly for Tuesday's first practice. During the first OTA workout that was open to the media two weeks ago, there were 17 players missing. Several of those players are recovering from injuries or still rehabbing after offseason surgeries. For others, it was unclear as to why they weren't present.
Tuesday's practice will give us a more definitive idea of which players are still dealing with physical ailments that are preventing them from joining their teammates on the field. Any absence from a healthy players -- especially ones going into contract years -- might be considered a negotiation tactic.
2. WHO'S THROWING?
The Patriots seemed to have no issue working in three different quarterbacks during their first open OTA practice late last month. Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and rookie Jacoby Brissett all saw plenty of reps, and it was actually Brissett who saw the most snaps in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work.
It's still early to try to take too much away from who is throwing to whom at this point in the offseason, but because it's still somewhat uncertain as to which quarterback will be starting for the Patriots come Week 1 -- Brady is still waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision on his petition for a rehearing -- tracking how the team mixes in its signal-callers will be worth watching.
3. WHO'S CATCHING ON?
The receiver position will be one of the more fascinating groups to observe during minicamp. Julian Edelman was still sporting a walking boot late last week, and Danny Amendola is coming off of offseason surgeries on both his knee and ankle.
Opportunities should be available for some of the new faces working under receivers coach Chad O'Shea. Chris Hogan, Nate Washington and rookies Malcolm Mitchell and Devin Lucien could all be the beneficiaries of extended reps if two of the team's top pass-catchers are missing.
4. HOW ARE THE ROOKIES PROGRESSING?
Again, it's early. But monitoring the movement of some of the team's first-year players will be one of our jobs this week. Because this is a passing camp -- no pads, no full-contact drills -- it will be difficult to get a very good look at players like offensive lineman Joe Thuney and defensive lineman Vincent Valentine. But second-round corner Cyrus Jones, Brissett, Mitchell, Lucien, safety/linebacker hybrid Kamu Grugier-Hill and undrafted rookie running back DJ Foster will be among those rookies getting closer looks at this address.
5. SCARNECCHIA IN ACTION
Though it will be hard to gauge the play of the big bodies at the line of scrimmage, there will still be value in watching them practice. Offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia will be particularly interesting to follow as he goes through his first minicamp after a two-year retirement. Belichick often says that spring practice is a "teaching camp" -- as opposed to training camp, which is more focused on competition -- and there have been few better teachers of offensive line play in recent NFL history than Scarnecchia. He'll have his work cut out for him as he tutors eight players who are either in their first or second season in the Patriots system.