Patriots camp observations, Day 8: Isaiah Wynn’s reps increase

Andy Hart
August 02, 2019 - 1:19 pm
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FOXBORO – Friday morning’s Patriots training camp session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium was a lighter one for many players, taking place in helmets, shells and shorts.

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But for second-year offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn the workout marked an increase in reps and workload as the 2018 top pick continues to work back from the torn Achilles suffered last August that derailed his rookie season.

Advancing from the drills and conditioning work he’s been doing, Wynn took reps at left tackle with both the first and second units. Though the work took place without shoulder pads and was far from full-contact, it was another step forward for Wynn and the team as New England looks to fill the left tackle spot vacated by Trent Brown’s free agent departure.

Wynn met with the media after practice, speaking for the first time this summer. Though he deflected any questions about his timetable or the plan for his usage – “that’s a Coach Bill question” --  Wynn did seem upbeat about his progress and confident that he’s moving in the right direction. He also emphasized how much he’s grown over the last year despite the injury, including plenty of mental reps early in camp.

Absent: Yodny Cajuste (NFI), Demaryius Thomas (PUP), Lance Kendricks

Present but not participating: Julian Edelman (NFI), Nate Ebner (PUP), Ken Webster (PUP)

Red non-contact jersey: Patrick Chung

Returned: None

Here are some quick observations from the Patriots practice field:

--Running back Rex Burkhead continues to be limited. He was on the field in helmet and shells with the rest of his teammate for stretching but then left the field for the bulk of the workout. When he returned he no longer had a helmet or jersey on while watching the conclusion of the practice from the sideline.

--Matthew Slater departed for the lower field after the team stretching early in practice. Others down on the lower field also included the specialists (Ryan Allen and Stephen Gostkowski), Edelman and Ebner.

--During pre-practice work those linemen working on snaps with the quarterbacks included David Andrews, Ted Karras, Hjalte Froholdt, James Ferentz and Tyler Gauthier.

--In a group drill the wide receivers ran with a special football that had a tether attached to it that was pulled by a teammate. Though it’s obviously intended to help with ball security, I’ve always found this drill strange in that it doesn’t really simulate the physics of a real game situation.

--Director of player personnel and 2007 Patriots wide receivers coach Nick Caserio worked with current receivers coach Joe Judge and his group during early positional drills.

--Though technically a tight end, undrafted rookie Andrew Beck continues to spend a lot of time with fullback James Develin. During position work Develin and Beck worked with a heavy bag together at the far end of the field. At the conclusion of practice Beck also worked on some long snapping.

--Though listed as a fullback, regular season international practice squad waiver player Jakob Johnson doesn’t seem to do much at the position. He spends much of his practice working in various drills for special teams and the scout team.

--N’Keal Harry had maybe his best practice of the summer, catching seemingly every pass thrown his way throughout the session, not something that could be said of previous workouts. Harry didn’t get a lot of run with Tom Brady’s group, but the first-rounder has to be happy with the way he caught the ball on Friday.

--Similarly, rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham threw the ball very well in the lighter workout. He made a number of really nice passes, both in the intermediate game and down the field. He has nice touch on the ball throwing down the sidelines to spots. It will be interesting to see how Stidham responds when the preseason game action hits in Detroit, but he’s making progress and certainly shows some signs of NFL talent.

--While Brady’s receivers did a pretty good job catching the ball during the workout, he did have a number of passes land harmlessly on the grass with no one within catching distance. That would seem to be a sign of he and his targets not being on quite the same page, which is understandable at this point but also needs to be corrected relatively quickly.

--Many are looking for Sony Michel to improve in the passing game this season. The second-year back did make a nice stretching catch on a ball from Brady to beat Jamie Collins’ coverage in an early group drill.

--Both Ryan Allen and Jake Bailey struggled a bit during a punt segment in the middle of practice. Bailey continues to display the much stronger leg and impressive hang time, but he also mixes in some shanks. Allen also mishit a few balls. Given the combined struggles in the drill, it was probably not surprising that both punters remained on the field after practice for bunch of extra punts. Bailey was particularly impressive in the post-practice work, booming kick after kick, while the rest of the team did its conditioning work on the hill at the end of the field.

--Braxton Berrios handled the return duties for the punters’ post-practice work and was inconsistent with a few ugly drops. Berrios has not had a great first week-plus of camp.

--When Wynn wasn’t working into the mix, Dan Skipper continued to get the reps at left tackle next to Joe Thuney.

--The offense appeared to be assessed a 5-yard penalty during a hurry-up drill, continuing a sloppy trend from a day earlier for the unit.

--Tight end Matt LaCosse had a bad false start on a Brady hard count on the final play of the hurry-up drill. The veteran immediately ran a lap, one around the entire outer edge of the fields, which is longer than the cut-corners version many players put forth.

--Obi Melifonwu took reps next to Patrick Chung with the first secondary in various team segments of the workout. That left the 6-4, 224-pounder as the deep, free safety in many situations, which is a little different wrinkle and may not be his best role.

--On the final play of the hurry-up drill with the offense needing to score the bulk of the defense retreated to the end zone. Brady’s Hall Mary attempt landed softly in Collins’ hands, with the linebacker kindly turning to hand it to Maurice Harris after the interception.

--With the Patriots not practicing on Saturday, a portion of the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Brady a day before his 42nd birthday.

--Former Patriots running back and Dean College assistant coach Sammy Morris watched the practice from the friends and family area. He spent some time talking to players afterwards.

--Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards, a friend of Patriots linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley from their time together at Purdue, was in attendance for the practice.

--Michael Bennett left the practice field with a large bandage on his forehead, right in the area where players have to get used to wearing a helmet again early in camp.

--Deatrich Wise spent a lot of time working along with one-man sled after practice. Danny Etling, who’s been converted to receiver, threw a lot of passes to a ball boy in the end zone well after the workout had ended.

--Those players talking to the media after practice included Chung, Wynn, Ben Watson, Matthew Slater, Duron Harmon and Johnson.

--The Patriots will not practice on Saturday and will leave Sunday for joint practices with the Lions that begin on Monday. NFL Network reports that the team will visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Sunday, a day after team legend Ty Law is inducted in Canton.

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