Pats LT Wynn ups workload, now closer to return

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The blindside protector of quarterback Tom Brady is one of the New England Patriots' most important positions, and Monday delivered positive news for the club as projected starter Isaiah Wynn participated in extended, full-contact 11-on-11 drills for the first time.

Wynn, who was selected with the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, missed his rookie season with a torn Achilles sustained last August.

"It felt good to be able to do a little bit more," Wynn said after practice.

Wynn's importance to the Patriots is magnified by the drop-off on the depth chart after him. Veteran Jared Veldheer projected as the top backup, but he retired in May. That has left former practice squad player Dan Skipper as the top left tackle in place of Wynn, who at 6-foot-2 and 310 pounds doesn't fit the physical prototype at the position but plays with excellent footwork and technique.

So the Patriots are relying on Wynn's return to health, and they've gradually brought him along in training camp.

"I'm really looking forward to getting back into game action, but being back out here really is the biggest thing right now," Wynn said. "I'm working every day to get better."

This marks the second year in a row that the Patriots have a notable void to fill at left tackle. Last year at this time, Wynn and Trent Brown were vying to replace Nate Solder, who had signed with the New York Giants as a free agent. Brown stepped in, especially after Wynn's Achilles injury, playing every game and earning himself a four-year, $66 million free-agent contract with the Oakland Raiders this offseason.

Wynn's increased load in practice was part of a handful of welcome news for the Patriots on Monday, as special-teams ace Nate Ebner and 2019 seventh-round pick Ken Webster were activated off the active/physically unable to perform list.

But first-round pick N'Keal Harry and tight end Matt LaCosse -- both of whom hobbled off the field in Thursday's preseason opener and didn't return -- weren't present at practice.

The club also announced the re-signing of third-year offensive tackle Cole Croston, making room for him by designating undrafted cornerback D'Angelo Ross waived/injured.