Today marks the final media-accessible organized team activity for the Patriots this offseason, and one of the final on-field workouts for the team as a group. In fact, next Thursday will mark the final day of a mandatory offseason mini-camp, after which the players will be on their own until training camp (although rookies will continue to work out at the team facility as part of a strength and conditioning program).
Here are our top three items to watch for at today's session.
1. The defensive tackle position. It's admittedly difficult to evaluate linemen during practices that occur without pads, but the defensive tackle position is an area of interest this offseason. Not only have the Patriots parted ways with Kyle Love, Brandon Deaderick and Myron Pryor this offseason, they've also added Tommy Kelly and Armond Armstead. Throw in the fact that veterans Sedrick Ellis and Spencer Johnson were in for recent visits to Foxborough, and this is a noteworthy position to monitor. We know Vince Wilfork will anchor one spot along the defensive line; how the rest of the tackle position works out is still up in the air.
2. Dobson's consistency. It's too soon to make any hard-line judgments on a rookie, but we've found second-round wide receiver Aaron Dobson to be one of the more interesting players to follow during the OTA's. Given the turnover at the position, Dobson would seem to be in line to compete for a starting job, and we've seen flashes of his natural talent. While there are many factors that cannot be judged until the pads come on, one that can be is consistency catching the football. Dobson has made some standout catches thus far accompanied by some concentration drops. He'll need to eliminate those sooner rather than later.
3. Attendance. As is always the case, attendance will be a primary storyline for the day. While linebacker Brandon Spikes seems unlikely to be on the field, others who have missed previous sessions may be back in the mix. Rookie wide receiver Josh Boyce appears to be getting closer to a return, as does undrafted rookie wide receiver Mark Harrison, who was on the stationary bike at the last media-accesible OTA. Running back Brandon Bolden is a name to keep in mind, as he's missed the previous two media-accesible OTA's due to an unspecified injury.