With a week’s worth of New England Patriots training camp practices in the books, it’s time to dole out some superlatives.
Here are the biggest winners and losers from Patriots camp thus far:
Jacob Hollister, tight end
One of the biggest standouts of spring practice has continued to progress this summer, frequently working both with the first-team offense and in side sessions with quarterback Tom Brady. He’s a prime contender to take the much-talked-about second-year leap after playing primarily on special teams as a rookie in 2017. Hollister also has received high praise from head coach Bill Belichick, as has the next player on this list.
Phillip Dorsett, wide receiver
Dorsett, who played nearly 400 offensive snaps last season but caught just 12 passes, appears to have improved his stock considerably. Like Hollister, he’s seen extensive reps with Brady, and the team seems to be expanding his role by lining him up in the slot more often. Viewed as a fringe roster guy entering camp, he could wind up being an important offensive piece for the Patriots during Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension.
Stephon Gilmore, cornerback
Gilmore has been arguably the best player on the field in Patriots camp, offensive or defensive. He’s piled up pass breakups despite being so dominant in coverage that quarterbacks rarely throw his way. Fellow corners Eric Rowe, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson and Ryan Lewis all have had standout moments, as well, setting the stage for some exciting roster battles over the next month.
Kyle Van Noy, linebacker
Speaking of pass breakups, Van Noy seems to swat away throws on a daily basis, with many of these PBUs coming deep down the field. He’s easily been the Patriots’ best coverage linebacker in camp, and Belichick has applauded his leadership.
Trent Brown, offensive tackle
The battle for Nate Solder’s old spot thus far has been dominated by the big man. Brown has been the first-team left tackle since the start of organized team activities in May, and he’s displayed impressive mobility for a man with his immense stature (6-foot-8, 380 pounds). Rookie Isaiah Wynn has run with the second unit.
Danny Shelton, defensive tackle
Another massive human at 6-foot-2, 335 pounds, Shelton has seen steady reps with the first-team defense in 11-on-11 drills. He also has dominated in 1-on-1s.
Jordan Matthews, wide receiver
Projected as a potential No. 3 receiver when he signed in March, Matthews didn’t even make it out of the first week of camp. He suffered a hamstring injury in the team’s fourth practice and was gone three days later. Tight end Troy Niklas also did not last long in New England, as he was released after just two training camp practices.
Malcom Brown, defensive tackle
Brown hasn’t been bad by any stretch, but it’s been odd to see him consistently work with the second team after starting the vast majority of New England’s games over the past three seasons. A lot can change over the course of the preseason, but he’s behind Shelton and Lawrence Guy on the depth chart at this point.
Danny Etling, quarterback
Etling was a pleasant surprise during the spring, looking better than expected for a seventh-round rookie. In training camp, though, he’s looked very much like a seventh-round rookie. The LSU product has a strong arm and has made some impressive throws — like his 50-yard touchdown pass to Devin Lucien during Monday’s in-stadium practice — but he has been wildly erratic on short passes, especially screens. He still needs a lot of work.
Mike Gillislee, running back
Every rep is critical for Gillislee as he battles Jeremy Hill for what likely will be one roster spot in the backfield. He missed two practices this week and wore a red non-contact jersey in a third — not the greatest sign for a player who dealt with injury issues for much of last season.
Malcolm Mitchell, wide receiver
Nearly a year after suffering the knee injury that cost him all of last season, Mitchell still has yet to take the field in training camp.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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