FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have signed the second of their first-round draft picks, Georgia running back Sony Michel.
New England selected Michel 31st overall, eight spots after taking one of his college blockers, Isaiah Wynn.
Michel is expected to be a major contributor in the backfield after the Patriots lost running back Dion Lewis in free agency.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound Michel was third on Georgia’s all-time rushing list with 3,688 yards. Last season, he played in 14 games with two starts while splitting time with Nick Chubb, who was drafted in the second round by Cleveland. Michel finished with 1,227 yards on 156 carries (7.9-yard average..
New England also placed offensive lineman Andrew Jelks on the reserve/retired list Monday.
Jelks, 24, was signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Vanderbilt last year, but went on the injured reserve/non-football injury list before the regular season. He has been plagued by knee injuries and last played in 2014.
The Patriots opening training camp on Thursday.
Here’s a capsule look at the team as it preps for another camp:
LAST YEAR: New England lost twice in its first four games but recovered to win 11 of its final 12 behind an MVP season of quarterback Tom Brady. He impressed at age 40, throwing for 4,577 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He did so despite reported issues between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft following midseason trade of backup Jimmy Garoppolo to 49ers. Defensive inconsistency was ongoing issue and it caught up with Patriots in Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia. It included surprise benching of cornerback Malcolm Butler, one of several players to sign with new teams during free agency.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: RB Jeremy Hill, RB Sony Michel, QB Danny Etling, DE Adrian Clayborn, WR Jordan Matthews, OT Trent Brown, OL Isaiah Wynn, CB Jason McCourty, DT Danny Shelton,
IMPORTANT LOSSES: Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, WR Danny Amendola, WR Brandin Cooks, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Johnson Bademosi, RB Dion Lewis, OT Nate Solder, OT Cam Fleming.
CAMP NEEDS: Wide receiver will be hot topic. After sitting out 2017 with torn right ACL, Julian Edelman is suspended for first four games of regular season for violating NFL policy on performance enhancers. Combined with losses of Amendola and Cooks in trades to Dolphins and Rams, respectively, it leaves Chris Hogan (34 catches, 439 yards, five TDs) as top returning wide receiver. Something also must be done to solidify defense that needs more edge rushing and someone to start alongside Stephon Gilmore at cornerback.
EXPECTATIONS: Even with offseason roster changes, Patriots enter camp as team to beat in AFC East. All-Pro TE Rob Gronkowski considered retirement in offseason; he and Brady skipped voluntary offseason workouts. But both returned for mandatory minicamps and say they are focused on helping New England reach what would be its fourth Super Bowl in five seasons. One of biggest question marks will be how linebackers coach Brian Flores does in new role as defensive play caller.