FOXBORO, Mass. — “Until you possess the ball, you can?t use your athletic ability,” New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones preached Monday afternoon.
Jones was referring to his mindset on punt returns, but the Patriots’ pass-catchers would have been wise to listen to his words Tuesday.
New England’s first joint practice with the New Orleans Saints was a sloppy one, with Patriots receivers, running backs and tight ends combining to drop eight passes on the day, including seven in team drills.
Six of those drops came on passes from Jimmy Garoppolo, helping contribute to the 24-year-old quarterback’s less-than-stellar stat line. Garoppolo began 11-on-11 drills by going 2-for-8 — including five drops — before rebounding to complete five of his final seven passes.
Garoppolo finished the day 10 of 22 overall between 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, while Tom Brady, who did not have a pass dropped in 11-on-11s, went 11-for-19. Each quarterback also threw one interception.
Brandon Bolden, Chris Hogan, DeAndre Carter and James White all dropped one pass apiece, and Chris Harper and Rob Gronkowski each dropped two. Gronkowski’s hands have been especially suspect during training camp, as the big tight end has had no issue gaining separation from defenders but has struggled to haul in balls thrown his way.
The Patriots and Saints are scheduled to hold a second, less physical joint practice Wednesday morning before taking the field Thursday night in their preseason opener at Gillette Stadium.
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