New England Patriots

Nov 20, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) and quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) walk onto the field before a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are opening practice to the media for the first time on Wednesday, and there will be plenty for us to watch for. Mainly, who is playing where? These are the positions and roster spots we’ll be looking at most closely…

  • Quarterback

    New England Patriots quarterbacks #10 Mac Jones and #4 Bailey Zappe share a laugh at practice. (Bob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal-USA TODAY NETWORK)

    Providence Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

  • Obviously! The only question here is, does Mac Jones get less than 100 percent of the reps with the starters in team drills? It may not even indicate much if Bailey Zappe mixes in for a small percentage of reps with the 1’s.

    But if this workload looks and feels like an even split? We could have a quarterback competition on our hands.

  • Wide Receiver (Literally all of them)

    L-R: Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker; Tyquan Thornton. (Getty Images)

    L-R: Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker; Tyquan Thornton. (Getty Images)

    This one is interesting mainly because of second-year wideout Tyquan Thornton, the Patriots’ receiver with the most untapped potential heading into 2023. If he takes a big step forward, that could transform the offense.

    We’ll be watching to see who lines up where in three-receiver sets. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the slot, and whether Thornton gets more snaps on the outside than he had as a rookie.

  • Cornerback (All of them)

    KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - APRIL 27: (L-R) Christian Gonzalez poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected 17th overall by the New England Patriots during the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft at Union Station on April 27, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

    David Eulitt/Getty Images

  • This should be our first look at 2023 first-round pick Christian Gonzalez at cornerback. Is he a starter right out of the gate? How is the team using Jack Jones, Marcus Jones, Jalen Mills, and Jonathan Jones?

    The corner configurations aren’t going to be exactly the same as 2022, most likely. So it’ll be a big story to see what the Patriots are thinking to start.

  • Right Tackle

    Nov 6, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears offensive lineman Riley Reiff (71) blocks against the Miami Dolphins at Soldier Field. Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

    Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

    We’re assuming Trent Brown remains the starting left tackle, for now. But realistically, we’ll be watching both tackle spots. Veterans Riley Reiff, Conor McDermott, and Calvin Anderson are all in the mix for reps, and rookie Sidy Sow also has experience at tackle.

    Both starting tackles will be one of the biggest questions to be answered on day 1 of open practices.

  • Right Guard

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 19: Mike Onwenu #71 of the New England Patriots walks off the field after the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on August 19, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 35-0. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

  • Incumbent starting right guard Mike Onwenu is not expected to be present, so we’re watching to see who gets starter reps at right guard in his place. All three 2023 draft picks on the O-line – Sow, Atonio Mafi, and Jake Andrews – all have experience playing guard.

    However, James Ferentz, Chasen Hines, and Bill Murray are back on the 90-man roster. The safe bet to be at RG on Wednesday is Ferentz, but we’ll see.

  • Inside Linebacker

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 24: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots reacts with Ja'Whaun Bentley #8 during the first half against the Chicago Bears at Gillette Stadium on October 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Ja’Whaun Bentley should be locked in as a starter at middle linebacker, but what about after him? The Patriots recently placed Raekwon McMillan on injured reserve, so there’s an opening for his workload. Jahlani Tavai figures to get plenty of snaps on the inside, but he’s a versatile piece who was used as an edge-setter in 2022 as well.

    Rookie Marte Mapu will be a player to watch, as will the returning Mack Wilson. The Pats also signed third-year pro Olakunle Fatukasi in the off-season.

  • Deep Safety

    Nov 6, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers (3) reacts with safety Devin McCourty (32) during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 6, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers (3) reacts with safety Devin McCourty (32) during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

  • With Devin McCourty gone, the Patriots have a massive void to fill both on and off the field. But on the field at OTAs, we’re watching to see who plays in the deep part of the field, where McCourty manned the defense for a decade.

    Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers, and Joshuah Bledsoe remain on the roster at safety, and Jonathan Jones has played safety before, so the Pats will have plenty of options. It’s just a question mark as to who will actually take McCourty’s place.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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