The New England Patriots began their voluntary organized team activities without veteran quarterback Tom Brady. The absence of the 40-year-old quarterback raised concerns for almost everyone, especially fans, who expect the signal-caller to lead the team’s OTA. Aside from Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski is also absent. Brady’s absence was a surprise since he was a familiar fixture during OTAs in past years. Also, Brady has emphasized the importance of OTAs to build the rapport and the chemistry between veterans, rookies and new players. While many analysts were not concerned about Brady’s absence, Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports 1’s "The Herd" said the quarterback has just drawn a line in the sand.

According to Cowherd, from this point on, it will not be the Patriot Way, but it is an indication of the “Brady Way.” According to Cowherd, Brady’s decision to skip OTAs could be a sign that he still resents head coach Bill Belichick for benching cornerback Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII [VIDEO]. “We’re in late May and the issue is still lingering,” said Cowherd, adding that Brady’s absence could be a sign that he will not be a disciple of Belichick’s Way, but he will follow “Brady’s Way.” Earlier, it looked like the issue that hounded Brady, Belichick [VIDEO] and team owner Robert Kraft had been ironed out, but the quarterback’s absence is another sign that all’s not well in New England.

Brady, Gronkowski to attend minicamp

Despite their absence at OTAs, Brady and Gronkowski are expected to attend the Patriots' mandatory minicamp from June 5 to 7, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network Insider.

A source also informed ProFootballTalk that Brady and Gronkowski will attend OTAs at some point after skipping the first two phases of the offseason workout program. Earlier, Brady expressed his intention to skip OTAs and give more time to his family. In the past few weeks, Brady traveled with his family to different countries, including Qatar.

Patriots boost coaching staff

According to Patriots.com, the team added two personnel to Belichick's coaching staff, hiring Cameron Achord as an assistant special teams coach and Atif Austin as a coaching assistant. Before joining the Patriots, Achord served as the interim head coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College. Achord played safety at Belhaven University before taking his first coaching position at University of Southern Mississippi in 2009. He then joined Southwest Mississippi as an assistant coach in 2012. During his time at Southwest Mississippi, he worked as offensive coordinator, special teams, quarterbacks, running backs, and tight ends coach. Over the last four years, Austin was the wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator at North Dakota State.