The days of Tom Brady being a 40-year-old quarterback are behind him. Now, he’s 41 and has a chance to absolutely obliterate the record book for QBs at that age. Friday marks his first practice after hitting the big 4-1.
Patriots players have been asked all week about what they might be getting Brady for his 41st birthday, but they’ve mostly been mum on the subject. Perhaps they have some kind of surprise in store this morning in Foxboro.
Brady did get something of an early birthday present on Thursday, though. Eric Decker is now in the fold with a big opportunity in front of him on a banged-up wide receiver corps that has little in the way of sure things on the roster.
So, with that, here are some things we’ll be looking for as the Patriots take the field for another practice on Friday…
— How does Decker look? The former Broncos wideout worked for a brief time with Josh McDaniels in his rookie year in 2010, but it’s unclear how much of that time he’s retained or how much of it applies to the 2018 Patriots. Perhaps more important is how Decker looks physically. There’s a reason he was still a free agent on August 1. But can he make more of an impression as a Brady target than Cordarrelle Patterson?
— Are they getting any healthier? Running back Mike Gillislee practiced on Thursday, but was limited as he wore a red non-contact jersey. Special teams captain Matthew Slater returned in full pads, but mostly worked on his own. Tackle Marcus Cannon and RB Sony Michel were absent, while several other players remained on the PUP list. Any healthy bodies would be nice to see at this point.
— Can Trey Flowers get back with the starters? Deatrich Wise got a look at left defensive end with the first team defense on Thursday, with Adrian Clayborn opposite him. Flowers hasn’t made much noise at all so far this camp; his transition to the left side doesn’t appear to be going smoothly. But of course, it’s still extremely early. This could simply speak more to Wise making serious moves up the depth chart, but what’s best for the Pats is for Flowers to regain his spot as a starter.
— Which young cornerbacks will make more plays? Replacing Malcolm Butler is one of the Patriots’ top priorities, and even if Eric Rowe holds on to the No. 2 starting spot, they still need to replace that depth. Fortunately, they have some young corners showing some promise so far. Duke Dawson is a virtual lock to make the roster as a slot corner, but on the outside there are some intriguing options. Undrafted free agents Ryan Lewis and J.C. Jackson remain players to watch.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.