New England Patriots

The New England Patriots work on the practice field outside Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on May 23, 2019. (Matt Dolloff/WBZ-FM)

The New England Patriots work on the practice field outside Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. on May 23, 2019. (Matt Dolloff/WBZ-FM)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

It’s easy to forget when you have your local hockey team playing for the Stanley Cup. But the defending Super Bowl champions are really getting back to work now, too. And on Tuesday they’ll have their quarterback.

The New England Patriots will take a big step toward the 2019 season on Tuesday when mandatory minicamp kicks off at the upper practice fields by Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Since these are mandatory sessions, quarterback Tom Brady will be in attendance despite his apparent intention to skip all 10 organized team activities.

So No. 12 will certainly have the eyes of all the media in attendance (practice is closed to the public). But there are some other topics to think about as the team gets ready for practice, and I’ll do my best to report on all of them after practice is complete. Here’s what we’ll be watching for on Tuesday.

Brady-to-Harry. Brady gets on the actual practice field with his new toy, first-round pick N’Keal Harry, during Tuesday’s minicamp practice. Harry will be sure to see some targets in team drills. Though it’s always important not to read too much into what happens in these practices, it’ll be interesting to see if Brady and Harry are in sync early on. Brady already had Harry over to his home in Brookline for a personal workout, but now it’s time for the real thing.

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Lining up in the trenches. The Patriots have questions to answer on the edge, on both sides of the football. On offense, Isaiah Wynn is ostensibly penciled in at left tackle – but he was absent at the first open practice, so it remains to be seen if he’s indeed entrenched at that spot. On defense, the team still needs to determine at least one starter at defensive end in the wake of the departure of Trey Flowers.

Receiver hierarchy. Julian Edelman is clearly the No. 1 option for Brady. Harry should be the next target, but there’s a chance Phillip Dorsett has an edge in that department due to experience. Free-agent additions Dontrelle Inman, Demaryius Thomas, and Maurice Harris could be competing for a single roster spot. With everyone accounted for on Tuesday, this could be the first indication of how the Patriots’ receiving corps is going to shake out.

Crowded cornerbacks. The Patriots traded up in the second round to draft cornerback Joejuan Williams out of Vanderbilt, so he’s a virtual lock to make the 53-man roster. Same goes for Stephon Gilmore. That leaves Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Duke Dawson, Keion Crossen, and rookies Ken Webster and D’Angelo Ross competing for 2-3 spots. Bill Belichick is going to have to make a tough decision with at least one of his younger prospects at this position, especially if McCourty is locked in for another season after earning his keep in 2018.

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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.