The left side of the Patriots offensive line is going to have a very different look when OTA workouts kick off later this month.
According to ESPN's Mike Reiss, left guard Joe Thuney is preparing for upcoming foot surgery that "isn't considered anything that should threaten his availability for the 2018 season," but will keep him off the field during passing camp practices.
Thuney played all but five snaps last season (1354 total) at left guard alongside left tackle Nate Solder. But when the Patriots take the field in shorts, t-shirts and helmets on May 21 for the start of Phase Three of the offseason program, there will be two new bodies to the left of center David Andrews.
Even if Thuney isn't expected to miss regular-season action, how the Patriots handle his left guard spot in the short term will be noteworthy.
Bill Belichick and Dante Scarnecchia could, in the interest of getting their five best linemen on the field, use first-round pick Isaiah Wynn at left guard. Wynn figures to be a top option to replace Solder at left tackle, but he played both guard and tackle on the left side while at the University of Georgia. That would leave tackles Trent Brown, LaAdrian Waddle, Cole Croston and Matt Tobin to battle for left tackle work.
The Patriots could also give Wynn an honest shot at becoming the solution at left tackle -- something we argued they should do soon after Wynn was drafted -- and try Ted Karras (last year's primary backup on the interior), Luke Bowanko (free-agent addition in his fifth year) or Jason King (about three months on the Patriots practice squad last season) at left guard.
Croston is another interesting option for the Patriots to use on the interior. An undrafted rookie out of Iowa last season, Croston practiced both at guard and tackle in his first year as a pro. He held onto an active roster spot all season despite not seeing any snaps of consequence. The team liked him enough not to expose him to waivers at any point in 2017, and they could envision him taking on a more significant role in his second season.