SPORTS-PATRIOTS-TRAINING-CAMP-ISAIAH-WYNN-PJ

The Providence Journal

New England Patriots offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn missed all of his rookie season last year with a torn Achilles after being drafted 23rd overall.

FOXBORO, Mass. — In the wake of the Achilles injury that ended his rookie season before it began, Isaiah Wynn would have had every reason to be depressed. The rookie offensive lineman, a first-round pick out of the University of Georgia, was suddenly looking at a year away from the game he loved after a preseason that started with so much promise.

But days after the injury, Wynn took to Instagram for the first time and posted a picture. It was a bunch of Scrabble tiles laid out against a cork board background, and the tiles spelled “Smile and the world smiles with you.”

“Make sure y’all walking around with your smile today! It’s contagious,” the caption read.

Injury or no, nothing was going to stop #WinWithWynnWednesday.

Since his college days at Georgia, Wynn has been renowned for his relentless optimism. The hashtag #WinWithWynnWednesday was born early in his time on campus, and every week the 6-foot-2, 310-pound lineman sends out a motivational quote to help spread some positivity in a social media environment that often breeds negativity.

Maintaining that positive outlook helped Wynn make it through a difficult time in his football career, and instead of dwelling on his misfortune after the injury, he was able to turn the time away from the field into a new opportunity.

“Last year really gave me an opportunity to look on the brighter side of things and see how everything works, especially going as far as we went last season,” Wynn said earlier this month. “Being able to see all of that as a rookie was special. Also, I was able to learn how plays operate, how practice goes, and how the guys take care of their bodies.”

Wynn may not have seen the field, but he was heavily involved in the team’s behind the scenes prep all the way through the team’s Super Bowl run. He benefited from the coaching of Dante Scarnecchia, who he recently called the best offensive line coach ever, and remained engaged even as the team held him out of competitive drills for the first two weeks of preseason camp.

“You want to get out there and be able to help the team, but I also had to look at the bright side,” Wynn said. “I was able to help the team by being prepared every week.”

That preparation paid off last week, when Wynn made his return to the field exactly 366 days after his injury in the team’s 22-17 preseason win against the Tennessee Titans.

Wynn played 19 snaps against the Titans’ starting defense and was dominant, winning every single one of his matchups. Among the highlights, he sealed off the Tennessee edge rusher to help spring rookie Damien Harris for three first downs, cleared a path to the end zone to held Brandon Bolden score untouched from one yard out, and never allowed his man to come anywhere near quarterback Brian Hoyer on passing plays.

Over on the sideline, Tom Brady surely must have been pleased.

Between Matt Light, Nate Solder and Trent Brown, the Patriots have a long tradition of dominant left tackles. Wynn may not look the part — he’s nearly half a foot shorter than Solder and Brown — and he certainly doesn’t have that stereotypical “mean and nasty” attitude. But the Patriots believe he’s the right guy to protect Brady’s blind side for the final years of his career, and if the last year has taught us anything, Wynn is ready and willing to take on that responsibility with a smile.

“Life will always have its highs and lows,” reads Wynn’s most recent tweet on Aug. 7. “When life’s all good, bottle that feeling up. When life gets rough, recall the joyous times and find a solution to better your situation.”