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Injury? Contract? Patriots Bill Belichick Mum on OL Isaiah Wynn Return

Patriots right tackle Isaiah Wynn has been absent from training camp practices since last Tuesday.

FOXBORO — It has been an intriguing 2022 training camp for New England Patriots right tackle Isaiah Wynn.

From a positional switch from left to right, to questions surrounding the conclusion of his rookie contract, the University of Georgia product continues to catch the collective eye of Patriots fans, and media alike.

Recently, Wynn has become more conspicuous by his absence. The 26-year-old was limited in practice last Monday, and absent from the field on Tuesday. He did not play during Thursday’s preseason loss to the New York Giants, a game which was largely devoid of starters. Wynn was absent from Monday’s practice, as well.

Is Wynn off the field because of an injury? Is there suddenly a contract dispute? Per Patriots' communication DNA, we're offered few answers to our questions. 

Pats coach Bill Belichick was asked about Wynn’s status by reporters prior to the start of Day 1 of joint practices with the Carolina Panthers in Foxboro. Belichick described Wynn as being “day to day” without setting an expectation for his return. He did, however, confirm that Wynn would not be participating in Tuesday’s practice. 

When healthy, Wynn is one of the more fundamentally sound tackles in the NFL.

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Despite the occasional breakdown in protection, Wynn performed reasonably well in 2021, making 15 starts during the regular season. He finished fifth on the team’s offensive unit, having taken 915 (82.8 percent) of their snaps. According to Pro Football Focus, Wynn allowed six sacks and five quarterback hits, earning an overall grade of 74.9. He was also flagged for penalties nine times throughout the season.

At his best, Wynn has the necessary quickness and strength to win battles when going one-on-one against edge rushers, or creating openings for the running game. Though a bit undersized for the position (listed at 6-3), his technique still makes him among the team’s best options at left tackle. Still, his absence from much of the team’s offseason workout program provided the Pats with the chance to explore alternative options, including playing Brown at left tackle and Wynn on the right. Throughout training camp, Brown has settled into the left tackle position, while Wynn has remained on the right.

During Wynn’s recent absences, reserve tackle Yodny Cajuste has taken the majority of reps with the Patriots starting unit. Though injuries limited his time on the field during his first three seasons, the West Virginia product does have starting potential. Cajuste possesses the quickness to get into position, with sufficient strength to wall-off defenders in the running game.

As for Wynn, his absence from the field does not automatically make him expendable. Yet, with Cajust proving him capable of handling starting duties, New England may have an interesting decision to make as the start of the season approaches. Wynn is entering the final year of his rookie contract, hitting the Patriots’ books with a salary cap number of $10.4 million. New England exercised the fifth-year option in his deal last spring.

While parting ways with Wynn may make some financial sense, his presence on the field, preferable sooner than later, would only bode well for his future with the team.

Wynn is still presently projected as the team’s starting right tackle for 2022, joining rookie left guard Cole Strange, center David Andrews, right guard Michael Onwenu and left tackle Trent Brown as the team’s top linemen.