FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots will hold their third overall organized team activity Thursday, which will be the first open to reporters. Let's look back before we look ahead.
From Patriots OTAs on June 16, 2015: "At one point in practice, fourth-year running back Dion Lewis was lauded by [Tom] Brady for his work in the passing game, which piqued my interest for a few reasons. First, Lewis is an under-the-radar option to become the team's passing back as he competes against [James] White, Travaris Cadet and Brandon Bolden for the role. Second, that Brady was throwing to him in skeleton drills (against no defense) highlights how Lewis might be under-the-radar from a public-perception standpoint, but he's very much on the Patriots' radar as he's healthy again after essentially missing the last two seasons. Third, I was curious why Lewis was praised in the first place and I later learned it was because he took a teaching point that was covered in morning meetings -- attacking the inside shoulder of the defender on a pass route -- and executed on the field. That, to me, is the essence of what we're watching in an OTA."
As we know now, Lewis turned out to be the genuine article, which serves as a reminder that an initial glimpse in OTAs can be telling. He might have been under the radar June 16, but that changed quickly as training camp began in late July and the preseason unfolded in August.
So as we prepare for Thursday's practice, who might be a player that falls into that type of Dion Lewis category?
Some candidates I'll be watching:
CB V'Angelo Bentley: An undrafted free agent out of Illinois, he adds possible value in the return game, which is the type of versatility the Patriots generally like. His mother, Angela, retired from the Air Force after 25 years of service.
WR DeAndre Carter: The 5-foot-8, 188-pound first-year player out of Sacramento State was on the practice squad last season, so he has some foundation in the team's system as he vies for a roster spot as a long shot. He should get some extended repetitions with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola recovering from surgeries.
RB D.J. Foster: The undrafted free agent out of Arizona State received a personal phone call from Bill Belichick that swayed his decision to sign with the team. His dual skills as a rusher and pass-catcher stood out in college, and his $30,000 in guaranteed money was second-highest among Patriots undrafted rookies.
CB Jonathan Jones: The undrafted free agent out of Auburn received a $35,000 guarantee from the Patriots, which was the richest of any player in the team's eight-member rookie free-agent class. He ran a 4.3 time in the 40-yard dash, but slipped out of the draft, in part because of his size (5-foot-9⅛, 186 pounds).