One player to monitor in training camp is Jacoby Brissett, the third-string quarterback. While the Patriots loved Brissett’s toughness and athleticism in his 2½-game stint last year as a rookie, word out of Foxborough is that Brissett didn’t have the best performance this spring.
With Tom Brady looking as spry as ever and Jimmy Garoppolo back as the capable backup, will the Patriots still keep a No. 3? Team broadcaster Scott Zolak mentioned on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Friday that the Patriots might need the roster spot to improve their depth at linebacker, receiver or defensive back.
Bill Belichick also had ominous quotes last week about Brissett not quite having a defined role.
“Jacoby is in kind of a unique situation,” Belichick said on SiriusXM. “When he started the year last year, we knew he was going to be the second quarterback with Jimmy while Tom was out. This year, that’s really not the way it is as we stand right now.
“It will be interesting to see how it goes this year because his role is a little bit different. Although he has a lot more experience and he’s certainly grown as a quarterback, it will be interesting to see how it all manifests itself this year.”
Belichick also noted that Brissett’s 2½-month thumb injury “took the wind out of the sails” of his progress and development as a rookie, saying he didn’t get many chances to practice once he was activated from injured reserve.
Brissett was a third-round pick just a year ago, but that doesn’t guarantee him anything this year. Belichick drafted Kevin O’Connell in the third round in 2008, and released him before the next season.
Brissett still has a place in the NFL, but it’s not a lock that it will be with the Patriots.
■ Another interesting comment from Belichick in that Sirius interview was a response about the last two draft classes.
“I think our last two draft classes are two of our best classes in terms of guys that buy in and have really tried to do the right thing for the team,” he said.
According to a 2016 story in ESPN The Magazine, Belichick’s biggest struggle has been finding players willing to buy in. And in recent years the team has discarded talented young picks such as Dominique Easley, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins, and others.
Apparently Belichick made an adjustment in his scouting process and is pleased with the results.
■ Why did Rob Ninkovich retire at the start of training camp, instead of earlier in the offseason? Why go through spring practices with the Patriots?
He said at his retirement news conference that he wanted to make sure that retiring was truly the right decision for him, and that his body just wasn’t responding the way he wanted to.
Of course, records show that Ninkovich also collected a $100,000 bonus for participating in offseason workouts, which probably made the decision a little easier.
Follow Ben Volin on Twitter @BenVolin.