FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Isaiah Wynn's long road back from injury has reached its biggest milestone to date.
The 23rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, the offensive tackle had his rookie season abruptly cut short during a preseason game when he tore an Achilles tendon.
Nearly a year of rehab later, on Monday he participated in full-contact, 11-on-11 drills for the first time since training camp opened.
It's a huge step for Wynn, who had become a connoisseur of film study, taking "mental reps" while watching his teammates last season and soaking up as much knowledge as he could in his conversations with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
"Wherever they need me to be at, I'm working every day to get better," Wynn said.
While the Patriots were expecting Wynn to see at least some action last season, they made do with Trent Brown, whom they acquired in a trade with San Francisco last spring.
Brown lived up to his expectations and was one of the standouts on New England's starting offensive line.
But Brown departed in free agency after receiving a four-year, $66 million deal with the Raiders.
The Patriots have brought Wynn along slowly this summer as a precaution but it hasn't bothered him, he said.
"Just putting in work every day, whether it's on the field, or in the training room, or rehab and treatment," Wynn said. "Every day I've got to get a little bit better, so I'm trying to figure out whatever steps I need to take to get better. I need to do that."
Coach Bill Belichick said there has been a definite design to the pace of Wynn's progression during camp.
"There's a reason why everything happens in camp, yeah," Belichick said.
So far, the coaching staff hasn't used Wynn at anywhere but the left tackle spot, which is charged with protecting Tom Brady's blind side. There, he has seen his share of opportunities to match up with newly acquired veteran defensive tackle Michael Bennett.
"It's been good," Wynn said. "Just going against a guy like that who has a whole toolbox of moves and all that type of stuff as a vet. It's good because it keeps you on your toes. Just being able to learn from him and pick up his moves, that's been great."
It's to be determined how much, if any, game action Wynn will see during the Patriots preseason game with the Titans this week.
Whenever it comes, Wynn says he will be ready.
Asked if he thought his 6-foot-2 height might somehow be an advantage in a league in which most left tackles are much taller, he chuckled.
"I don't know, I'm not tripping," he said. "I play big."
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