In one week, on September 7, the New England Patriots will host the Kansas City Chiefs for a primetime matchup. Not only will the game kick off the 2017 NFL season, it will simultaneously put an end to the quasi-football free time known as the “offseason”. Prior to the season opener, however, the Patriots still have a lot of work to do.
They will have to play one more preseason game – tonight against the New York Giants – and need to cut their roster from currently 90 to 53 players before the offseason can officially be declared over. Another indication that it is nearing its end? The Patriots have announced their offseason workout winners.
Nine players have received the honor and will now be able to park their cars in the row of lots closest to the stadium entrance. It’s the little things, that count. Anyway, via ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, here is the list of New England’s offseason award winners:
QB Tom Brady
RB James White
WR Matthew Slater
TE Rob Gronkowski
OT Marcus Cannon
OC David Andrews
DE Trey Flowers
DE Derek Rivers
FS Devin McCourty
The list includes some of the biggest names on the Patriots’ roster as four of five 2016 team captains – Brady, Slater, Gronkowski, McCourty – have earned workout honors (Dont’a Hightower is the lone exception due to him spending most of the offseason on the PUP list). The other players have also all been key contributors to New England’s recent Super Bowl run – with one exception.
2017 third round selection pick Derek Rivers was still preparing for the draft when the Patriots hoisted their fifth Lombardi Trophy. Even though he is expected to miss his rookie campaign due to an ACL injury, seeing him on the list of offseason workout winners is an encouraging sign for his development.
Equally encouraging is the inclusion of offensive linemen Marcus Cannon and David Andrews. Both are about to enter their second season as regular starting blockers and might be in line for another step forward in 2017 – particularly Andrews, who won the team’s strength and conditioning award last year. With his first full offseason as the starting center under his belt, the 25-year old should be able to build on a very promising 2016 season.