The news that Isaiah Wynn is ready to be a full participant in training camp is huge for the Patriots, but the status of two other stars wasn’t as good.
The Patriots’ biggest priority heading into the 2019 season is figuring out the right combination of offensive linemen to keep Tom Brady safe in the pocket. That means the news that Isaiah Wynn won’t start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list is huge for Bill Belichick and company. Unfortunately for fans in New England, the news elsewhere on the roster wasn’t quite as rosy.
There’s no guarantee that Wynn will ascend to the role of starting left tackle when the regular season arrives, but that’s clearly the best case scenario for the Patriots. They worked with Joe Thuney in that spot during OTAs, but his presence is needed at guard to help solidify the interior of the line. The news that Wynn has been fully cleared to play really helps New England in two crucial spots along their offensive line.
That offensive line will be counted on to make life easier for the Patriots’ skill position players. That’s precisely the area of the roster which didn’t receive positive injury news this weekend. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and running back Sony Michel will both begin the preseason on PUP.
That news isn’t a terribly surprising update for either player, but it will still put each guy behind the rest of the potential starters when they’re able to join preseason activities. Thomas, in particular, is in jeopardy of not making the roster. The towering wide receiver is attempting to recover from a devastating torn Achilles tendon. That, coupled with the fact that the Patriots can cut him with minimal impact on their salary cap, means he needs to get himself healthy and back onto the field as soon as possible.
Michel’s roster spot isn’t nearly as tenuous, but the fact that he hasn’t fully recovered from what was expected to be a relatively minor knee operation will raise eyebrows in New England. His durability was a concern for the Patriots last season before he really turned his production up down the stretch.
If his knee continues to be an issue as the preseason rolls on, look for third-round pick Damien Harris to get a lot of work running the football early in the season. He isn’t the dynamic rusher that Michel is when he’s healthy, but he may emerge as a more reliable workhorse for the coaching staff.
The good news for Thomas and Michel is that there’s still a lot of time left between now and Week 1. Each guy has plenty of opportunities left in front of them. They’d still rather be in Wynn’s shoes. His ability to be a full participant in training camp is a big boost for the second-year left tackle and his offensive teammates.