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Sunday 7: Patriots haven’t forgotten about 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn

Ryan Hannable
December 30, 2018 - 7:16 am

1. In case you forgot, the Patriots made two first-round picks in last April’s draft. Of course, running back Sony Michel at No. 31 overall, but also offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn at No. 23 overall. The Georgia product suffered a torn Achilles in the second preseason game, which forced him to be placed on injured reserve and miss the entire season. Despite being on IR and not being able to participate in practices, he’s still been around the team. “He’s in every meeting. He’s working hard to get better for the next year and so that’s what his job is right now,” offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said last week. “I am anxious to get out there with him in the spring and start again.” Speaking Friday, Bill Belichick acknowledged all rookies on IR are given every opportunity to get better despite not being able to be on the field and it’s up to them to make the most of things. “I think a lot,” Scarnecchia said when asked how much a player like Wynn can learn in meetings. “Like I said, he’s in every meeting. He’s not physically able to do things, but he is a bright kid. We hope for the best. We hope he can really help us.” Wynn had a strong summer working at left tackle and if all goes according to plan he should be the left tackle of the future. As for the starting tackles right now, left tackle Trent Brown is a free agent after the year and right tackle Marcus Cannon is signed through 2021 with cap hits over $7.5 million the next two years. The Patriots have an out this offseason, so the team could move on from him and bring back Brown to play the right side with Wynn on the left, or not bring back Brown at all and still have Wynn on the left with Cannon on the right. No matter what happens, the Patriots really hope Wynn can work out.

2. Speaking of Michel, he is quietly putting together a very strong rookie season and that’s with missing all of the preseason and Week 1 because of a knee injury and then two more games in the middle of the year to a different knee injury. Going into Week 17, he has 195 carries for 881 yards and six touchdowns. On that same pace over a 16-game season he would have 260 carries for 1,174 yards, which would be the seventh-most rushing yards in a single season in Patriots franchise history. Not bad for a player who has received a good amount of criticism over the course of the year and has taken it all in stride.

3. The season finale is usually a game where some players have some extra money on the line when it comes to season-long incentives. The biggest for the Patriots is Julian Edelman as he can earn an extra $500,000. For the year, he needs to have 70 receptions plus seven touchdowns, or 1,057 receiving yards or 80 receptions and a Super Bowl appearance. Currently, he has 69 receptions for 781 yards and five touchdowns, so he needs two touchdown catches, or 11 receptions combined with a Super Bowl appearance to get an extra $500k. (H/t @Patscap.)

4. On Mut & Callahan Friday morning when discussing Rob Gronkowski’s future, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk offered something we haven’t heard about the tight end before: concerns about potential head trauma. “I think he has family members trying to get him to walk away because of concerns over head trauma and he can make a ton of money just being Gronk,” he said. “I’d be surprised if he's back next year." With seemingly another offseason of the tight end contemplating retirement upcoming, this seems like something to file away.

5. If Trey Flowers does not re-sign with the Patriots this offseason, a player to keep an eye on  is defensive end Derek Rivers, who has only played in five games in his NFL career after being selected by the team last year. The Youngstown State product tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entire year. Despite being a healthy scratch for most of the year this year, Belichick seemed upbeat when discussing him Friday. “Good. I like Derek,” he said. “I think he’s got a good future.”

6. Tom Brady and Belichick both spoke on former Patriots tight end Ben Watson, who announced this will be his last season. The 38-year-old returned to New Orleans for his 14th season this year. Belichick said he still keeps in touch with him even after his last year with the Patriots came in 2009 and Brady said the same. “Ben’s been a great friend for a long time and had an incredible career,” the quarterback said. “He’ll certainly be missed. He had a great impact on this team and every team he played for because of the person he is. He’s just a great man, great father, great husband, great player, great teammate. We’ll always be in touch so wish him nothing but the very best.”

7. If the Patriots win Sunday, they would earn a first-round bye and not play again until Jan. 12 or 13. Even though they won’t know their opponent until after wild card weekend, the Patriots should know when they will be playing late Sunday night as the NFL usually releases the playoff schedule during/right after the Sunday night game. In the past, the NFL has had the Patriots play on Saturday of the divisional round and it wouldn’t be a surprise if it happens again.

Related: Patriots-Jets preview