American Football

Christian Gonzalez among 17 rookies set to report to Patriots training camp on Friday


New England Patriots Minicamp 2023
Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Five days before the official start of training camp, the Patriots’ first-year players are set to arrive at Gillette Stadium.

Two day after the New England Patriots’ coaching staff officially ended its summer break, the team’s first-year players are set to do the same. The rookies currently on the roster are scheduled to arrive at Gillette Stadium on Friday to report to their first ever NFL training camp.

Together with the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Commanders, the Patriots are one of four teams welcoming their rookies to camp that day. A total of 17 players will check into the facility.

Draft picks

CB Christian Gonzalez (1-17): The Patriots’ first-round draft pick, Gonzalez already saw prominent action with the starters during offseason workouts. Based on his usage and immense talent, he very well might become a Day 1 starter as an outside cornerback.

DE Keion White (2-46): White rotated in and out of the lineup during organized team activities and mandatory minicamp. Training camp, however, will be his time to shine: with full contact allowed, he should prove his value to the defensive line rotation rather quickly.

LB/S Marte Mapu (3-76): The third-round pick donned a red non-contact jersey throughout the spring after suffering a pectoral injury in the pre-draft process. Nonetheless, the hyper versatile defender was heavily involved during spring workouts as an off-the-ball linebacker/safety hybrid.

C Jake Andrews (4-107): The Patriots selected Andrews in the fourth round of the draft, and he projects as a backup along the interior offensive line. Based on New England’s history with fourth-round rookies, he can be considered a lock to make the team.

K Chad Ryland (4-112): Even with veteran Nick Folk still on the team, the Patriots decided to invest a fourth-rounder in Ryland. Due to his draft status, the Maryland product has the inside track to earn a spot on his roster.

OL Sidy Sow (4-117): Offering tackle/guard flexibility, Sow will earn valuable depth along the Patriots’ offensive line even as a rookie. Like Andrews and Ryland, he too can be seen as safe to survive roster cutdowns.

G Atonio Mafi (5-144): New England invested a fifth-round selection in Mafi, meaning that he is in a different boat than the other draft picks above as far as roster security is concerned. That said, the former UCLA guard will aim to become the latest late-round lineman to make an impact — even if it might come in backup capacity at first.

WR Kayshon Boutte (6-187): An intriguing prospect once considered a first-round talent, Boutte was no full participant during the spring. His roster outlook will depend on his ability to get back onto the field quickly and to start building a rapport with the team’s quarterbacks.

P Bryce Baringer (6-192): The Patriots’ punter competition should be a fun one this summer. Baringer has a powerful leg and impressive college résumé, while fellow offseason addition Corliss Waitman offers quite a bit of NFL experience.

WR Demario Douglas (6-210): Douglas was the more active of the two sixth-round rookie wide receivers during the five open offseason practices. Will he be able to build on this momentum heading into camp? If so, he might just find his way onto the roster as a package and backup receiver.

CB Ameer Speed (6-214): He does have some experience as a cornerback, but Speed’s way onto the team will come not through defense. He needs to prove himself on special teams to show the team he is worthy to be kept around on the roster or practice squad.

CB Isaiah Bolden (6-245): Bolden, the only HBCU player drafted this year, is in the same basic situation as Speed. He also is a roster bubble player, who might have to perform on special teams to get the nod over other backups at the cornerback position.

Undrafted free agents

WR/QB Malik Cunningham: Coming off a record-breaking career as Louisville’s quarterback, Cunningham is in the middle of a position change. Outside of a few end-of-practice situations, he was used exclusively at wide receiver during spring practices. The expectation is that training camp will be more of the same.

TE Johnny Lumpkin: The Patriots already have two roster locks on their tight end depth chart — Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki — but that does not mean Lumpkin has no chance to make the team. His blocking skills might allow him to stick around.

LB Jourdan Heilig: Heilig spent much of OTAs and minicamp working directly alongside special teams captain Matthew Slater. If those few sessions are an indication, the App State product might have a shot at making the team via the kicking game.

WR Ed Lee: The Rhode Island product arrived after the first wave of rookie free agency signings. Lee faces an uphill climb to make the roster given the competition he faces at receiver, but a good camp might earn him a practice squad spot.

DT Justus Tavai: The brother of Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai was already released once this offseason. Unless he shows some proper growth during camp, he will be little more than a camp body up front.

The 17 rookies are not allowed to start practicing right away. Instead, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the start of training camp “shall be limited to physical examinations, meetings, and classroom instruction; no on-field activities shall be permitted other than running and conditioning.”

On-field activities, meanwhile, are defined as conditioning, timing and testing — very much what teams are allowed to do during the first phase of the offseason workout program. The only difference is that all coaches are permitted on the field at this point in time.

Players will also receive “per diem” payments starting on the first day of camp. Gonzalez and other first-year players will get a weekly rate of $1,850 for participating in camp, an increase of $150 compared to last year’s rookie class.

As for veteran players, they will report to Gillette Stadium next Tuesday, July 25. One day later, the team will hold its first practice of the summer.

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