1. Monday will be the first Patriots full padded practice of the summer and also the first time select media will be present at the Gillette Stadium facility. Given everything that happened this offseason, everyone’s main focus will be on the quarterback position and how everything is going with Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham. Get ready for tons of tweets, videos, blogs, etc. detailing every move the two make on the practice field, but there are only a few things that really matter. When it comes to Newton, it’s more about his health. How does his shoulder look? How are his throws? Can he get some velocity behind them? Can he throw the deep ball? If he checks those boxes, it’s very likely he will be the starter come Week 1. When it comes to Stidham, it’s worth watching his energy. Is he still upbeat following Newton being added to the roster so late in the offseason? Is he competing with Newton, or sitting back and watching? If he’s not backing down, which appears to be the case based on his first media availability, that is great news for the future as he potentially could be the quarterback moving forward after this season. There will be a ton of random information coming out this week regarding the two, but keep in mind it’s just training camp -- don’t read into every little thing.
2. Another position that will get a lot of attention this coming week, and the rest of the summer for that matter, is tight end. And in particular rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. Asiasi has the biggest potential as a pass catcher given his athletic ability. He worked out with Newton on the West Coast, so may have a leg up on some of the other tight ends. With Keene, it will be interesting to see where he’s lining up. He isn’t a typical tight end as he lines up all over the formations. With Dan Vitale opting out of the season, Keene could be a potential option in the backfield as a fullback.
3. Bill Belichick was very honest on Friday during his video conference when he said how behind all rookies are at this point in time. Every year at this time rookies have a ton of catching up to do, but this year it is even more so because of coronavirus and players just getting to the facility in the last 10 days or so. He did say a lot more will be known on their progress in 7-10 days, which is true as that will be following a week of “real” football in pads.
4. Adding Lamar Miller could be a sneaky big signing for the Patriots. It is a very low risk deal, as he reportedly has a base salary of $1.05 millions and has $1.5 million in incentives. Some may not realize Miller was a Pro Bowler in 2018 and seems to be exactly what the Patriots value in their running backs in terms of being versatile and able to catch the ball out of the backfield. If he stays healthy (coming off torn ACL in 2019), Miller could actually have a big role for the team in 2020.
5. John Simon is a player who could take on a much bigger role this season with Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy all departing in the offseason. He’s been a member of the team for almost two full years, so he’s comfortable with the system and can play a bunch of different roles in the front-seven. Speaking via video conference Friday, Simon seemed to downplay a potential bigger role. “It’s not just me,” he said. “Everyone on the team, we have a lot of guys who will do whatever the job calls for. So, whatever the job calls for week in and week out, we’re going to prepare to our fullest and try to do our best on Sundays or Thursdays, Mondays to execute it to the best of our ability. We’ve got a lot of guys who are very versatile and can do multiple things. Whatever happens, happens.”
6. With Tuukka Rask’s rather surprising decision to step away from the NHL season after two games into the playoff series with the Hurricanes, it’s a reminder that a NFL player could really decide at any time to opt out of the season. While there’s no indication any players will do this as of now, just don’t be surprised if it does happen because of the current climate we’re in.
7. Patriots players were off Saturday and will return Sunday for the final OTA-type session. On Monday, the pads will go on for the first time and media will be present for the first “real” training camp practice, which is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. It’s hard to imagine a ton of hitting taking place during the first practice, but with the regular season four weeks from Sunday, teams cannot wait too long to really get going, especially without any preseason games.