Patriots Minicamp: Rookies Impress, Rob Gronkowski Still Absent
By Cyrus Geller
The Patriots wrapped up their final open minicamp of the week yesterday, and from what was reported, it was another productive session.
From Mike Reiss’ perspective, the top storyline was how impressive rookies Malcolm Mitchell and Kamu Grugier-Hill were.
"On the third and final day of the Patriots’ mandatory minicamp, two members of the team’s draft class — fourth-round receiver Malcolm Mitchell (Georgia) and linebacker/safety hybrid Kamu Grugier-Hill (Eastern Illinois) — flashed with notable plays.Mitchell’s was a one-handed leaping grab in the left-hand corner of the end zone on a pass from fellow rookie Jacoby Brissett in 11-on-11 drills. Defensive back Brock Vereen was in coverage, and the dazzling grab — albeit without Mitchell facing a jam and no live pass rush on Brissett — sparked a reaction from teammates.Meanwhile, Grugier-Hill’s ability to close ground quickly showed up when he trailed tight end Steven Scheu to the right sideline, and then as quarterback Jacoby Brissett fired a pass in that direction, he accelerated and deflected it away.Near the end of practice, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Grugier-Hill picked off Brissett on a throw over the middle."
I really am starting to love this Mitchell kid. He isn’t going to be the focal point of this offense anytime soon, but he is going to contribute. He is an excellent route runner, he has decent size and he is quick as well, which we know the Pats love. He may lack great speed to burn you down the field, but this offense is not built around that kind of receiver (unless it’s Randy Moss). It’s great to hear Mitchell make some plays in minicamp, as he takes advantage of New England’s top two receivers being out.
As for Grugier-Hill, he isn’t going to be a starter at linebacker, and probably won’t even be a backup. The Pats have Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Jonathan Freeny and apparently Rob Ninkovich taking snaps at linebacker right now, so it will be tough for Grugier-Hill to break in.
However, if he continues to make good plays like this, New England will find room for him to perform on special teams, and that is the best way to earn praise from Bill Belichick, which could later turn into a starting spot on defense. Grugier-Hill is kind of a hybrid, so using him in a sub-package as a linebacker/safety may be in his future if he continues to play well.
Here are the guys who were absent from practice: (from Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald)
"Julian Edelman, Logan Ryan, LeGarrette Blount, Duron Harmon, Dion Lewis, Nate Ebner, Tre’ Jackson, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason, Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Michael Williams and Rob Gronkowski."
Again, I think it is good they are being cautious with Gronkowski, because he is the second most important player on the roster, and it would really be a big blow if he were hurt in a mostly meaningless minicamp practice in June. We have already seen Martellus Bennett go down, and Michael Williams lost for the year, so I don’t see why having Gronk out there if he is nursing a small ailment is a good idea.
Rest up, big boy.