New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Sacramento State linebacker Marte Mapu (Sacramento State Athletics)

The Patriots took the practice fields on Friday afternoon behind Gillette Stadium for their final OTA practice of 2023. It was their fourth practice of the week, and eighth total of the spring.

It was a relatively low-tempo practice, similar to what we saw on Tuesday. Here are the big takeaways from the session…

  • Mapu Mania?

    Linebacker Marte Mapu practices for the New England Patriots at 2023 OTAs in Foxboro. (Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Linebacker Marte Mapu practices for the New England Patriots at 2023 OTAs in Foxboro. (Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    It’s getting hard not to get too excited about rookie linebacker Marte Mapu. He had another standout practice on Friday.

    During the first open practice, Mapu played mostly off-ball linebacker. Throughout the second practice, he was mostly at safety. Friday saw him switching back and forth between both roles.

    The standout moment for Mapu on Friday came during a full-field 11-on-11 drill. He recognized a throw in the flat to tight end Matt Sokol, and closed five yards from the throw to the point of the catch, stepping in front of Sokol to intercept Bailey Zappe on a play that would have been a pick-six in a game. That sort of play is exactly what the Patriots had in mind when drafting Mapu in the third round back in April.

  • Depth receivers making plays

    Ed Lee (Connor Caldon/URI Athletics)

    Ed Lee (Connor Caldon/URI Athletics)

    The Patriots were still limited in terms of the top of their wide receiver depth chart on Friday, so that opened up chances for other wide receivers who will be fighting for roster spots this summer. A couple of those players took advantage.

    Undrafted URI product Ed Lee, signed by the team earlier this week, made a couple of nice catches during 11s. Raleigh Webb, who was on the team last year but only played in the kicking game, had a good high-point grab down the sideline as well.

  • Special teams work

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - NOVEMBER 06: Nick Folk #6 of the New England Patriots kicks a field goal in the fourth quarter of a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 06, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – NOVEMBER 06: Nick Folk #6 of the New England Patriots kicks a field goal in the fourth quarter of a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on November 06, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    Friday’s session focused heavily on special teams – especially kickoffs. Nick Folk, taking part in his first open practice of the spring, rotated in as the kickoff kicker with rookie Chad Ryland.

    Both kickers also took field goal reps at the end of practice, towards the narrow training goalpost on the far end of the field. Ryland maxed-out from 55 yards.

  • Quarterback update

    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

    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 quarterback update is that there’s still not update. Outside of one walkthrough period early in practice where Bailey Zappe worked with the presumed starters, it was Mac Jones with the 1s and Zappe with the 2s. The idea that there could be a quarterback competition in New England this summer is fading fast.

  • Attendance

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 07: JuJu Smith-Schuster #9 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 07: JuJu Smith-Schuster #9 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    15 players weren’t in attendance for Friday’s workout. Here’s that group with players marked with a * being those who weren’t spotted at any of the three practices.

    WR JuJu Smith-Schuster*
    WR Tyquan Thornton
    WR Kayshon Boutte
    G Mike Onwenu*
    T Riley Reiff
    T Trent Brown*
    DL Davon Godchaux
    DL Lawrence Guy*
    LB Matthew Judon*
    LB Josh Uche
    LB Terez Hall
    CB Jonathan Jones
    DB Quandre Mosely
    DB Jalen Mills
    P Bryce Baringer

  • What’s next?

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches his players warm up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 30-24. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 18: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches his players warm up before a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on December 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Patriots 30-24. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    The Patriots return to the practice field for the first of three Minicamp practices, which will take place Monday-Wednesday. Unlike OTAs, all three of those practices are mandatory.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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