New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Aug 26, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Ty Montgomery (left) is called for a facemask penalty against Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Sam Webb (48) in the first quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the Patriots set to begin OTAs in Foxboro this week, it’s a good time to remind fans about some under-the-radar players who could make a much bigger impact on the team than last year. Here are six key names to know…

  • RB Ty Montgomery

    Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Ty Montgomery (14) runs the ball during the first half of a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

  • Montgomery’s first campaign as a Patriot was over after it barely got started, as the veteran running back/receiver hybrid played just one game before spending the rest of the 2022 season on injured reserve. But prior to that, Montgomery had shown in camp and the preseason that he had the potential for a major role in the offense.

    With no clear candidate to play a traditional third-down back role, catch passes regularly, or take the field in no-huddle situations beyond Rhamondre Stevenson, the Patriots could once again turn to Montgomery. The big thing, as it’s long been with him, is staying healthy.

  • OT Andrew Stueber

    Dec 4, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive lineman Andrew Stueber (71) against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Stueber, a 2022 seventh-round pick out of Michigan, has great size at 6-foot-7 and 338 pounds. At 23 years old, he’s easily the youngest tackle on the roster, and so by default he has the biggest upside at the position. The rest (Trent Brown, Riley Reiff, Calvin Anderson, Conor McDermott) are veterans whose best days are likely behind them.

    If Stueber, who spent his entire rookie season on the non-football injury list, can hit the ground running at OTAs and stay healthy through camp, he should have a real opportunity for playing time in a position group filled with question marks. He’s a complete unknown, but not a guy to rule out.

  • S Jabrill Peppers

    Dec 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers (3) warms up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    Devin McCourty’s retirement will no doubt leave a huge void in terms of leadership, and it may be harder than you think to replace him as a deep safety, too. Peppers likely isn’t that guy, but he should certainly have a chance to play a lot more and make a bigger impact at safety, especially now that he’ll be healthy entering OTAs.

    Peppers is fast and athletic and flashed some good physical play on defense in 2022. He’ll be put in position to make a year-2 jump in New England.

  • LB Ronnie Perkins

    Aug 19, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Ronnie Perkins (51) tackles Carolina Panthers tight end Colin Thompson (86) during the second half of a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    The slow-burn is real when it comes to Patriots linebackers. Josh Uche all of a sudden popped during his third season, while Anfernee Jennings also played an increased role.

    For that reason, Perkins can’t be ruled out to step in and finally contribute meaningful snaps in year 3. Bill Belichick hasn’t given up on him yet, so neither should anyone else.

  • LB Raekwon McMillan

    GLENDALE, ARIZONA - DECEMBER 12: Raekwon McMillan #50 of the New England Patriots recovers a fumble to score a 23 yard touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals during the third quarter of the game at State Farm Stadium on December 12, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

    Norm Hall/Getty Images

  • McMillan hasn’t quite made the kind of impact promised by his strong preseason performances in his first two years as a Patriot. But the team has seen enough to stay the course with McMillan, who re-signed in the off-season on a new one-year deal.

    Much like the Patriots’ draft picks have been late bloomers of sorts at linebacker, perhaps the same will be true with McMillan over the middle of the field.

  • OG Chasen Hines

    Aug 11, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots guard Chasen Hines (63) warms up before a preseason game against the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Another 2022 draft pick on the O-line who didn’t play in his rookie season, Hines was at least able to spend some time working with the team and got to dress for five games. In the wake of the news that Michael Onwenu will miss OTAs as he recovers from offseason ankle surgery, Hines will have an opening to make some noise at guard.

  • The Patriots officially begin OTAs on Monday, but the first practice open to the media will be Thursday, May 25. We’ll have in-depth coverage on what we see down in Foxboro here at 98.5 The Sports Hub.

    Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

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

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