New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones winds up to pass at the NFL football team's practice facility June 13, 2023, in Foxborough, Mass. Credit: Steven Senne / AP

A new NFL season means it’s a chance for players to turn the page. For several Patriots players, that’s a good thing.

The 2022 season was frustrating on many levels in New England. Now, the team is looking to start anew and get back to the playoffs. For multiple players, 2023 represents a chance to right the wrongs from last season. It’s one thing to have a bad season, it’s another to let it ruin your career.

For some players, a down season signals the beginning of the end. For others, it creates motivation and could end in a nice comeback story.

If the Patriots are going to get out of the basement of the AFC East, they’re going to need several players to step up and prove that they’re better than what we all saw in 2022. Bill Belichick is hoping the addition of new offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien fixes the main issues, but players have to rise to the challenge.

In OTAs and minicamp, we saw some players do that. However, not everyone had a great spring in New England. With training camp about to start up on July 26, here’s a look at the top five Patriots with the most to prove.

Trent Brown, tackle

Trent Brown has much to prove this season. He’s a mountain of a man who has the ability to be a game changer on the offensive line. At his best, Brown is a Pro Bowl tackle. At his worst, he’s out of shape and unmotivated. Brown’s coming off a tough season where he allowed a team-high nine sacks in 2022. It didn’t get better this spring. Brown skipped optional OTAs and then was late to minicamp when his flight was canceled due to a hailstorm. He practiced once this summer and lasted one position drill before leaving practice. Brown has so much to prove in training camp – if he wants to stick around New England.

Jack Jones, cornerback

Jack Jones has more to prove than anyone on this roster, but this isn’t about his on-field ability. The second-year cornerback has bigger concerns as he’s due back in court on Aug. 18. Jones faces weapon charges after bringing two loaded guns into Logan Airport. The news was certainly disappointing as Jones had a phenomenal minicamp where he looked like the best cover cornerback in New England. Unfortunately, Jones has struggled to stay out of trouble. He has all the talent in the world, but needs to show the Patriots that he can keep his nose clean off the field. At this point, it’s unknown if Jones will even be on the Patriots roster this spring.

Mac Jones, quarterback

Mac Jones looked like the quarterback of the future in 2021. Last season, however, fans were calling for backup Bailey Zappe. Life can change fast in the NFL. For Jones, this season is about proving to everyone he’s the Patriots franchise quarterback. This spring, he looked refreshed and more confident under new offensive coordinator/quarterback Bill O’Brien. There’s a lot riding for Jones this season. If he succeeds, he’ll be bound for a new extension soon. That’ll start with a fifth-year option in 2025. However, if Jones fails, he could eventually be relegated to backup duty. We’ll see how he handles the pressure of this season.

Kendrick Bourne, receiver

Kendrick Bourne looked dynamic in 2021. In his first season with the Patriots, the receiver finished with a career-high 55 receptions and 800 yards. In that season, Bourne was the Patriots most dynamic weapon at times. Last season, however, it seemed like he fell out of favor with the coaching staff and lost playing time to the likes of Nelson Agholor and Tyquan Thornton. Bourne finished with 35 receptions and 434 yards in 2022. He took accountability for the poor season and came into this spring stronger and motivated. The Patriots have added JuJu Smith-Schuster and extended DeVante Parker. Where does that leave Bourne, who’s a free agent in 2024? We’ll see if he can rise to the challenge this summer.

Mike Gesicki, tight end

Mike Gesicki was one of the best tight ends in the NFL in 2020 and 2021. He finished with over 700 yards in each of those seasons. In 2021, he finished with a career-high 73 receptions and 780 yards. However, Gesicki didn’t fit into the Miami Dolphins offensive scheme quite as well under new head coach Mike McDaniel. Last year, he finished with 32 receptions, 362 yards and five touchdowns. Now, Gesicki has a fresh start with the Patriots. He shined in OTAs and minicamp, leading all players with 17 receptions in competitive team drills. Gesicki signed a one-year deal with the Patriots so a big season could lead to big money.

Story by Mark Daniels,