The New England Patriots have completed the third and final day of mandatory minicamp on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
With the team set to take a brief hiatus before reconvening in late July for the start of training camp, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick met with the media via video conference, offering some insight on the expectations for the day and into the coming weeks.
A Work in Progress
While acknowledging the value of the team’s offseason workout program, Belichick also was careful to advise that OTA and minicamps are merely a small step in building a roster and a team identity for the upcoming season.
In his opening remarks Wednesday, Belichick said, “It’s been great having the team together. We obviously have a long way to go, but we've made some progress here, and that’s good for the younger players, and the veterans too "
When asked specifically about the progression for the newest and freshest faces in Foxboro, Belichick said: “Those things will happen naturally. Right now, our rookies need to concentrate on becoming professional ... making a commitment, learning the playbook and the techniques that come with the plays.”
'Don’t really do levels'
While Belichick has been steadfast in deflecting questions surrounding any potential contract negotiations with star cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the Patriots head coach was asked about Gilmore’s rehab from the quad injury he suffered last season.
Expectedly so, Belichick was equally as coy in his response, saying, “I'll keep the conversations between myself and the player private.”
Further asked if a "level" of panic should be applied to this situation, and if so, whether it could be quantified by a numeric value, Belichick said, "I don't really do levels.”
Mills Making an Impact
New Pats defensive back Jalen Mills reportedly has looked quite impressive in minicamp. Whether it be holding tight coverage on a receiver or keeping pace with a speedy target along the sideline, Mills' versatility might earn him an ample amount of playing time in the Pats secondary this season.
Belichick praised Mills’ experience and versatility Wednesday morning.
“Jalen has been great," Belichick said. "He has experience. He’s a sharp kid who has played a lot of positions and has great instincts. That type of experience gives all of our players a better conceptual understanding.”
Harris Poised to Carry the Ball
By consensus, an expected strength of New England’s offense in 2021 will be their corps of running backs. Rookie Rhamondre Stevenson joins veterans Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden, J.J. Taylor Tyler Gaffney and James White in helping to round out an impressive depth chart at the position.
Expected to headline the Patriots runners in 2021 is third-year back Damien Harris.
Harris parlayed a strong showing in 2020, running for both power and speed, into a spot at the top of the rotation.
When asked Wednesday about Harris’ strengths, Belichick replied: “Damien works really hard. He just tries whatever he can to help the team. He has lot of skills and can contribute in a variety of ways.”
Listed at 6-6, 301 pounds, 29-year-old Henry Anderson posted the third-highest run-stuff rate among players with at least 500 defensive snaps in 2020, according to NFL NextGen Stats, while with the New York Jets.
His presence in New England is expected help to bolster a Patriots line that had its problems against the run in 2020. Anderson also is capable of providing assistance with rushing the passer as well, notching seven sacks and 16 quarterback hits in 2018.
Count Belichick among Anderson’s admirers.
“Henry is a smart player, with quite a bit of experience," the coach said. "He plays all the way across the line and picks things up quickly, It’s great to have him here and it’s been good to have him working with other players.”