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Patriots minicamp takeaways, Day 1: Drake Maye making ‘tremendous strides,’ Matt Judon returns, RB extension?

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — When we last saw the Patriots, there was a notable uptick in usage for first-round rookie Drake Maye. During that final OTA session last week, Maye seemingly took a jump up the depth chart as the second quarterback to participate in reps behind Jacoby Brissett and ahead of veteran Bailey Zappe. As New England opened up minicamp on Monday, that remained the case.

Maye was the No. 2 quarterback up throughout the mandatory session Monday and continues to flash his third-overall NFL Draft pick potential. The opening day of minicamp was largely situational with the Patriots putting an emphasis on red zone and no-huddle scenarios. During competitive drills (combined 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s), I had Maye completing 18 of his 23 passes with a few dazzling plays in the process.

Specifically, Maye shined during 7-on-7s when, during one period, he completed all three of his pass attempts for touchdowns. The highlight of the day also came during this period when Maye was able to connect with tight end La’Michael Pettway, who climbed the ladder to make a leaping touchdown reception.ย 

“Every day he’s gotten better,” Brissett said of Maye following the session. “He’s just constantly trying to find ways to get better, was making some nice throws out there.”ย 

Brissett added: “He’s been here for what? Three and a half weeks, a month? He’s made tremendous strides not only calling the plays but footwork, throwing the ball, and his overall understanding of this offense.”ย 

Maye will likely continue to serve as the second option in reps through the start of training camp, but Monday’s practice was a reminder that it’s only a matter of time before he takes the reins as the starter. And if he continues stacking days like he did to start minicamp, that could come sooner rather than later.ย 

Here are some other nuggets from Monday’s minicamp opener:ย 

  • Welcome back, Matthew Judon:ย Given the mandatory nature of minicamp, attendance was naturally going to be a key storyline. That was particularly true with star pass rusher Matt Judon, as he had been away from the team for the majority (if not all) of the voluntary portion as it’s believed he’s in search of a new contract. Judon was present and active on Monday, with head coach Jerod Mayo adding before practice that “it’s great to have Judon and his energy in the building.” The 31-year-old pass rusher is entering the final year of his contract. ย ย 
  • Attendance: Mayo said that New England has full attendance to begin minicamp, but that doesn’t mean everyone was out of the field. I did not spot Josh Uche, Kendrick Bourne, Cole Strange, Jake Andrews, Jahlani Tavaiย or Sione Takitaki.ย 
  • Rough day for Bailey Zappe: It wasn’t exactly a banner day for the third-year quarterback. He continued to be the third man up during reps and did not see a ton of action. When he did step into the fray, Zappe didn’t do much to endear himself for a roster spot by the end of the summer. I had Zappe completing 6 of his 11 passes with an interception. That pick came during 11-on-11s when the team was specifically focused on working within a two-minute situation. Zappe’s first attempt was a throw in the flat thatย Kyle Duggerย intercepted. That sent Zappe to the sideline with Joe Milton III then coming in for some reps.ย 
  • How Jacoby Brissett and Joe Milton III fared: Brissett continued to get the lion’s share of reps and has been as steady as you may expect from the veteran. I had him completing 14 of his 23 passes during competitive sessions, but that also included drops by Austin Hooper and Pop Douglas. As for Milton, he completed 3 of his 5 throws.
  • Officials: The Patriots elected to bring in referees for Monday’s practice, which was an unexpected wrinkle. Typically, officials pop up in Foxborough during training camp, so they are here a bit earlier under Mayo in 2024. By my count, they threw five flags on the afternoon.ย 
  • Onwenu showing versatility: One thing I did notice Monday was the usage of Mike Onwenu all along the offensive line. While he has most recently played right tackle and signed a three-year, $57 million contract this offseason, Onwenu was seen at right guard at time during the session. Whether or not that’s simply flexing his versatility and allowing others to get work in at the right tackle will be worth monitoring.ย 
  • Two-minute offense: A large emphasis of the day was spent on red zone offense and two-minute drills. Specifically, as it relates to the hurry-up offense, it seems to be a work in progress. Out of all the quarterbacks combined, the offense settled for just one field goal attempt and couldn’t find the end zone. ย 
  • Good practice for two WRs: I liked what I saw from rookie Ja’Lynn Polk and veteranย Jalen Reagor on Monday. Both were active and came up with several key receptions.ย 
  • Mayo and Stevenson talk extension: The Patriots have spent the bulk of their offense locking up some of their own talent with contract extensions, and it sounds like Rhamondre Stevenson could be next. Mayo praised the veteran back before practice, and Stevenson added after the session that he believes the two sides are “pretty close” to reaching an extension.
  • Javon Baker limited: We noted in our final OTA takeaways piece last week that fourth-round pick Javon Baker wasn’t particularly active and may have been dealing with some sort of an injury. On Monday, Baker participated in warmups and went through some receiver drills, but unlike other pass-catchers, didn’t have the ball thrown to him.ย 
  • Familiar faces: With Tom Brady’s Patriots Hall of Fame ceremony set to take place later this week, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see some familiar faces in Foxborough. That began Monday with former wide receiver Julian Edelman and former nose tackle Vince Wilfork both on hand watching practice.
  • Off-field day on Tuesday: The Patriots won’t be on the field practicing during Day 2 of minicamp on Tuesday, Mayo said before practice. The first-year head coach said they were going to do something “special” that “we think is important for the state.”ย 

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Author: Tyler Sullivan
June 10, 2024 | 5:55 pm

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