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Seven Patriots Players Absent as Organized Team Activities Begin

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New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is interviewed prior to the introduction of first-round cornerback Christian Gonzalez at Gillette Stadium, Friday April 28, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass.(AP Photo/Paul Connors)

The New England Patriots began their offseason OTAs in Foxboro on Monday. OTA stands for organized team activities. These are not mandatory sessions (players cannot be fined for not attending). However, it would seem to benefit all players to make a strong impression on the new coaching staff. Seven Patriots players missed the first day of OTAs.

Not included among the seven absences was Kendrick Bourne. The wide receiver was in attendance, though did not participate. New England head coach Jerod Mayo stated that Bourne, who is still rehabbing from a season-ending ACL injury suffered in 2023, will not participate in practices this spring. Bourne is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

A look at the seven New England Patriots not present or participating on Monday:

Davon Godchaux

Godchaux and his wife Chanel Iman Godchaux were in Foxboro 10 days ago helping new and expecting mothers as part of their Chauxdown Foundation. There are three players on this list, including Godchaux, entering the final year of their contracts. It is unclear if Davon Godchaux is injured, awaiting a contract extension, or opting not to participate since OTAs are not mandatory.

Zuri Henry

Henry is the most surprising absence of the group. As an undrafted free agent, using every opportunity to make a positive impression on the coaching staff is crucial. The UTEP tackle was the only rookie missing from the first day of OTAs. Despite being a sixth-year senior, Henry remains a very raw prospect. Standing 6-foot-6 and weighing 293 pounds, Henry can still add significant bulk to his frame. He played in all 13 games in 2023, four at right tackle and nine at left tackle. He committed 12 penalties last season, which doubled his previous high. Henry can develop into a swing tackle if he takes to coaching and puts in the work in the weight room. The reason for his absence is not known.

Anfernee Jennings

Jennings re-signed with New England this offseason. He agreed to a three-year deal following a breakout 2023 campaign. Jennings is one of four linebackers not present for the start of OTAs, though it is unclear why. Anfernee Jennings is the lone veteran listed here who is not known to be injured or set to hit free agency next year.

Matthew Judon

Jerod Mayo addressed Matthew Judon’s not being in attendance. Mayo stated that Judon has been “in and out” in prior years. The coach said he thought that Judon’s absence was no big deal. However, Judon is entering the final year of his contract and has hinted on social media he intends to be paid handsomely. It is worth watching how “in” Judon is this year, particularly when mandatory minicamp begins next month.

Cole Strange

Strange’s absence is due to injury. The report from Mayo about Cole Strange’s status was not encouraging, though not surprising (it is the reason Strange was left off the initial 53-man roster projection). Mayo commented on his left guard’s progress:

“Normally we’d say ‘day by day.’ He’s more of a ‘week by week’ or you could go ‘month by month’ if you want to,” said Mayo. “He is working hard. He’s doing his rehab, he’s here every day. He’s in the meeting room, so I’m happy where he is.”

It appeared second-year guard Atonio Mafi was taking first-team snaps at left guard in Strange’s absence.

Jahlani Tavai

Like Godchaux and Judon, Tavai might be looking for an extension before voluntarily attending OTAs, though that is mere speculation. He becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2025 without a contract extension. Tavai is coming off a season in which he earned the Tom Brady Award as the New England Patriots MVP. With no known injury, it is unclear why Tavai was not in attendance.

Joshua Uche

Finally, Joshua Uche was also not present on Monday. Uche is also set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer but is in a different situation than Godchaux, Judon, and Tavai. Uche agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots during free agency, which means he is not holding out for a contract extension. Based on his desire to return to New England, nothing much should be read into his absence.

Linebacker Room

Jennings, Judon, Tavai, and Uche are all linebackers who are locks to make the New England Patriots 53-man roster. Their absence opens the door for others in the linebacker room to make a positive impression on the coaching staff. Team captain Ja’Whaun Bentley was present on Monday. Other linebackers in attendance included Christian Ellis, Joe Giles-HarrisJontrey Hunter, Raekwon McMillanJay PersonSione Takitaki, and Oshane Ximines. Updates will be provided on Patriots Football Now as OTAs progress.

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