Waters a camp storyline to monitor

One of the storylines monitored during Patriots organized team activities related to a player who wasn’t even on the field.

Veteran guard Brian Waters, who brought up the possibility of retiring this offseason, was not spotted during any of the media accessible OTA’s.

OTA’s are, of course, voluntary, and Waters is not alone around the NFL for missing out on the on-field work. But his absence has left open the door to speculation about his future, although the sense has been and remains that he will return to the field in 2012.

This week, as the Patriots enter what amounts to the final week of pre-training camp offseason work as a team, may help give us our answer.

Per the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, a player under contract can be fined up to $60,000 for missing three days of a team’s mandatory minicamp (hat tip to Pro Football Talk for pointing this out).

That would suggest that if Waters intends to continue his playing career, he’ll be a participant on Tuesday when the team returns to the field for work.

Should he be in attendance, it will be interesting to see how the team shuffles its offensive line throughout the three days. While line combinations displayed during this part of the offseason don’t necessarily equate to what the depth chart will look like come September, it’s interesting to keep an eye on who the Patriots usher out during given periods, and for how many reps.

Waters wasn’t the only starting guard from 2011 not active during OTA’s, as left guard Logan Mankins spent his time rehabbing his surgically repaired torn ACL with the Patriots training staff. Mike Reiss has previously reported that Mankins hopes to be ready for the start of training camp.