Home Sports Patriots Notes: Dissecting what we saw from Drake Maye on Day 1 of OTAs

Patriots Notes: Dissecting what we saw from Drake Maye on Day 1 of OTAs

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Patriots notes: Breaking down what we saw from Drake Maye on Day 1 of OTAs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO — Eliot Wolf made it abundantly clear throughout the combine, long before Drake Maye or anyone else was drafted to New England, long before any free agent was signed. He knew what his team-building philosophy would be and how it would differ from Bill Belichick’s.

“I think there will be a little more reliance on playing with young players,” Wolf said at the time. “I think it’s very important in today’s football to be able to play with young players and develop from within.”

Write and develop. Write and develop. That was the pace of the Patriots’ offseason.

Why, then, in the first practice of the spring’s Organized Team Activity did Maye look like the third-string quarterback?

The 21-year-old from North Carolina took reps behind Jacoby Brissett and Bailey Zappe on Monday, working ahead of fellow rookie Joe Milton.

There could be a multitude of reasons why the No. 3 overall pick would go third.

It could be that the most efficient way to conduct the practice would be to have the rookies who are still learning take third and fourth in the pecking order behind the veterans. It could be a nod to older players that they will be given the opportunity to compete for jobs. It could be a message to young players that they have to earn their stripes.

Everything would be understandable. Unless and until that kind of spread of practice reps inhibits Maye’s growth.

At this point, it’s too early to say things will stay this way. Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo told reporters before the first of 13 OTA workouts that the spread of reps for quarterbacks wouldn’t necessarily be indicative of how things would work out in the future.

“No, that won’t be indicative of what we do,” Mayo explained. “I think it’s a day-to-day thing. You know, you try to keep all those guys around the same number of reps. But at the same time, on any given day, this guy might do 30 reps and another guy might do five. But then as we go through the week it might change.”

And it should change at some point. Maye is in the organization’s long-term plans. He is the long-term plan of the organization. Brissett will have a real chance to start Week 1. They both need to practice with their new teammates. And a lot.

Meanwhile, Zappe and Milton could compete for a third spot.

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In a Sports Illustrated story by Albert Breer, it’s clear that the team plans to “reduce the competition to three guys” by the time training camp begins. When asked Monday about the space reduction, Mayo acknowledged that would happen eventually.

“Once we get to the training field, that’s real football,” he said. “So here in the spring, we’ll have four. But, as soon as we get to training camp, we have to start reducing the roster.”

Reporters will return to the fields behind Gillette Stadium for OTA work on May 29. The Patriots know that how the work is divided will get a lot of attention, and maybe practice will look different then.

But on Day 1, in a league where highly drafted quarterbacks often play early, it was notable to see New England’s highly drafted quarterback wait his turn behind not one but two of his veteran teammates.

Here are some of our other takeaways from Monday’s work…

Maye’s footwork in focus

Drake Maye throws passes on the practice field behind Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots will hold regular “Quarterback School” sessions with this new offensive coaching staff. Mike McCarthy has brought specific quarterback drills to the entire league and now two of his former assistants in Green Bay, Alex Van Pelt and Ben McAdoo, have the opportunity to do some of the same things in Foxboro.

The quarterbacks worked to gain ground as they took plays and moved away from the center. They worked their way through bags on the ground, eyes up, trying to make accurate throws into a net. They pulled from an imaginary pocket and out.

For Maye, whose footwork has been criticized since long before the draft, looked fluid in motion. There were times when he seemed deliberate and methodical in his downfall. But — outside a meeting with a bag — it would be difficult to call his footwork a problem. In real time, he is not noticeably different from his fellow veterans.

He appeared to rush some steps in a team exercise that caused a check failure. But it is clear that he is a good athlete. It would be interesting to hear from his offensive coaches what they think can be fixed in the short term and how they have seen him progress in a short period of time. Expect “Quarterback School” to continue to be a staple in spring practices.

maye things

Maye completed six of his seven competitive attempts, with one incompletion (mentioned above) on one check. He threw back another short throw to a runner, but made two zipper throws toward the sideline to complete out routes.

Maye could be seen throughout practice talking to Van Pelt and McAdoo, and also spent some time going over things with Brissett. At the end of practice, Brissett and Maye shared offensive reps on one field while Zappe and Milton played on the other.

When the session ended, Maye threw to rookie receivers Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker for several minutes. They were the last three on the field.

Offensive line reorganization

Mike Onwenu

Patriots offensive lineman Mike Onwenu re-signed with the team earlier this offseason.

There’s a different group in the trenches these days. Mike Onwenu remains at right tackle after re-signing in the offseason. Joining him on Monday was veteran newcomer Nick Leverett at right guard. David Andrews filled the center spot with Sidy Sow at left guard and Chukwuma Okorafor at left tackle.

Okorafor signed as a free agent after six years at right tackle with Pittsburgh.

“I think it takes time,” Okorafor said after practice when asked about playing on the left side of the line. “I played well my entire time (with the Steelers). Obviously it’s new. I’m trying to learn left from now on. I’m just trying to learn a whole new playbook. I’m trying to learn a whole new city. a completely new city, so everything is new to me now.

Assist Control

Matthew Judon, Davon Godchaux, Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings were not seen in the session.

Judon is in the final year of his contract. After the money was moved from 2024 to 2023 last summer, his contract is scheduled to pay him a base salary of $6.5 million. Coming off a season-ending injury, Judon’s contract situation and availability deserve attention.

Uche and Jennings signed new deals this offseason. Meanwhile, Godchaux is in the final year of his contract, but has no guaranteed money, according to Over the Cap.

Cole Strange, Kendrick Bourne and Jahlani Tavai were present but did not participate. Bourne and Strange are recovering from season-ending injuries. Tavai was limping on the field and appears to be dealing with a lower body ailment.

Of Strange’s injury, Mayo said: “It’s more like, let’s say, week to week or you can go month to month if you want.”

Stevenson a busy man

On a day when the Patriots offense put in the work early, Rhamondre Stevenson had a lot to do. He not only accepted several zone transfers. But he was also targeted in both the screen game and the traditional dropback passing game. He looked fast and seemed to be in good shape.

Fast hitters

Kayshon Boutte made the catch of the day along the sideline, spreading out for a Milton offering…Milton didn’t receive any 11-on-11 reps, but he was sharp in the 7-on-7 work, completing all four of his passes. …Milton overlooked a receiver on a fade while working through the air…KJ Osborn had a fall…Zappe fumbled on a snap…Kyle Dugger broke up a Brissett pass on a work seven on seven… Van Pelt wore a microphone during practice, his audio was captured by the internal content team for a video to be released later… Music played for almost the entire session.

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