Patriots guard Joe Thuney ready to second his rookie year
FOXBORO — Left guard Joe Thuney was all business at Patriots minicamp yesterday, building a new rapport with the same outsized crew.
The cohesive offensive line that protected quarterback Tom Brady all the way to victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI was on the rain-soaked grasslands at Gillette Stadium starting the process all over again.
The line of Thuney, right guard Shaq Mason, center David Andrews and tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon got a fresh look at the in-house competition that will heat up when training camp begins in July.
“It was great what we did (last year), but now we have to focus on this year and focus on getting better in the spring and summer and just improving ourselves,” Thuney said. “There is a familiarity with each other, which is great, and that plays a big role in it, but everyone is competing and everyone is working together as a unit to make the most of our opportunities.”
Thuney was selected by the Patriots in the third round (78th overall) of the 2016 draft following an All-America season at North Carolina State. The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder made a big impression in his first NFL camp and started every regular-season and playoff game. The Pats ended the regular season ranked first in the AFC in total offense, first in passing and fourth in rushing.
Few NFL rookies start 19 games and end the campaign getting fitted for a Super Bowl ring.
“It feels good having been through it a year and knowing the playbook pretty good,” Thuney said. “But at this point, it’s great to be back, and I’m feeling pretty good. I was just trying to do my part on the team and go along week by week and try and improve my game a little bit.”
Thuney embraced the time-honored ideologies of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, the man recognized for building the Patriots fronts in the Bill Belichick era.
“He is a great coach, particularly in instilling the details of the game and how to improve bit by bit and take in the playbook,” Thuney said. “It was about watching the guys around me and watching film and trying to get better. Whatever play is called, I just try to execute it the best I can. I just focus on what I can control.”
Brady was the beneficiary of Thuney’s work keeping opposing tackles out of the quarterback’s face. Thuney provided the same service for backup QB Jacoby Brissett in college.
“It is awesome to see him play at the level that he did when he started every game as a rookie in this league coming from college,” Brissett said. “Our (college) season is done way before the playoff started here, and to see how he matured over the year, as a friend and a teammate on two teams, I’m really proud of that.”