The Patriots will join the list of teams to lose OTA days due to minor violations. The NFL docked the Pats two OTA sessions, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. New England did not practice Wednesday and will see another of its sessions nixed next week. The violation is believed to stem from the NFLPA expressing concern about the Pats’ meeting schedule. A 15-minute special teams meeting appearing on the team’s internal schedule was deemed mandatory in nature, and not voluntary, by the union, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Bill Belichick incurred a $50K fine, Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal tweets, noting Joe Judge was involved in the violation as well (Twitter links). Pats players were aware they were being asked to stay longer than allowed, per veteran reporter Mike Giardi (on Twitter), with Reiss adding the team was fully cooperative with the NFL inquiry.
While on-field contact has triggered these penalties at various points in the recent past, the Pats’ violation is believed to pertain to only the meeting issue. This punishment certainly can be interpreted as steep for the reported infraction, though the NFLPA made reduced offseason work a key component during the 2011 and 2020 CBA talks.
Here is the latest from the AFC East:
- Austin Jackson is back at work for the Dolphins, per the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, participating in OTA sessions after undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery (Twitter link). Jackson did not undergo surgery upon initially injury his ankle — in Week 1 — as Miami’s starting right tackle attempted to return in Week 12. Jackson played 70 offensive snaps in that December game but did not suit up again last season. The Dolphins said before the draft they are planning to give Jackson another shot as their top right tackle, though they subsequently passed on his fifth-year option.
- Miami did not draft a tackle, but the team did add ex-New England starter Isaiah Wynn. The former first-rounder is working at multiple positions during OTAs, Mike McDaniel said (via Jackson). League rules prohibit media from reporting which positions Wynn is playing, but the former Patriots left tackle did play guard for three seasons at Georgia. Wynn has spent most of his NFL time at left tackle and struggled on the right side following a 2022 position switch. The Dolphins have Terron Armstead locked in at left tackle, but the ex-Saints blocker has run into numerous injury issues during his career. He missed four games last season. Wynn’s Dolphins path could feature a starting right tackle role, a spot as the team’s swingman or potentially a guard gig. Left guard Liam Eichenberg has not solidified his position like right guard Robert Hunt has.
- Damar Hamlin has made remarkable strides in his recovery and is fully expected to resume his career this season. But the Bills are playing it cautiously. Hamlin received full clearance to return and has worked out with teammates this offseason, but The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia notes the third-year safety is not yet participating in OTAs (Twitter link). Hamlin’s progress continues to be a situation to monitor in Buffalo, considering the historically rare circumstances he encountered after making a routine tackle in January.
- A year after re-signing Matt Milano, the Bills let Tremaine Edmunds walk in free agency. The five-year starting linebacker signed a monster Bears contract and left a hole in the Bills’ lineup. Buffalo is likely to look in-house to replace Edmunds, with WGRZ’s Vic Carucci indicating Tyrel Dodson and 2022 third-round pick Terrel Bernard will compete for the middle ‘backer job. A former UDFA, Dodson made three starts last year. He played 220 defensive snaps. Starting one game as a rookie, Bernard played 110. The Bills also brought back veteran A.J. Klein, who has 82 starts on his resume (16 with Buffalo), in April.