ALLEN PARK, Mich. — The New England Patriots wrapped up their first round of 2019 joint practices Wednesday afternoon.
Ahead of Thursday night’s preseason opener at Ford Field, here are eight things we learned about the team during its three practices — two full-speed, fully padded sessions and one non-padded walkthrough — with the Detroit Lions:
1. The Jakobi Meyers hype train isn’t slowing down. The undrafted rookie receiver continued to run with the starting offense in Detroit and was productive during both of the live practices, catching a total of five passes on eight targets in 11-on-11 drills. That upped his camp total to 15 receptions in 11-on-11s, passing Maurice Harris for the team lead. Meyers also saw reps as a punt returner this week along with N’Keal Harry, Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski.
2. Isaiah Wynn still isn’t ready. The 2018 first-round pick has yet to take part in full-contact team drills as he continues to work his way back from a torn Achilles. Wynn was mostly an observer during these joint sessions, but he did take part in some live 1-on-1s against Patriots pass rushers after practice Monday and Tuesday — a step forward for the young O-lineman. Dan Skipper continued to take first-team reps at left tackle and is likely to start there Thursday night.
3. The Patriots might have something in Shilique Calhoun. New England’s signing of the former Oakland Raiders edge rusher this spring barely moved the needle, but he saw significant playing time with the first-team defense in Detroit. A third-round pick in 2016, Calhoun has been disruptive in both 1-on-1s and 11-on-11s this summer and might not be the total roster long shot we pegged him as entering training camp.
4. Things haven’t been going well for Duke Dawson, who’s been dominated by Jonathan Jones in the slot cornerback battle. Dawson endured a brutal day Tuesday, surrendering multiple touchdown passes and also picking up a flag for defensive holding during 1-on-1s. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots cutting a player one year after drafting him in the second round, but Dawson has not measured up this summer.
5. Michigan loves Chase Winovich. Back in his old college stomping grounds, the rookie edge rusher garnered repeated ovations from the Lions faithful during Tuesday’s practice, which was his best yet in a Patriots uniform. He’s a high-motor menace who will be fun to watch this season.
6. Harry is the Patriots’ best highlight generator, but the rookie first-rounder might struggle to produce on a consistent basis this season. Those frequent phenomenal catches — of which he’s made more than a dozen since the start of camp — are made necessary by the difficulty he has separating from defenders and getting open. Meyers, who’s racked up receptions of the spectacular and conventional varieties, looks like the more complete receiver at this point — a surprise given their massive draft slot disparity. Harry also suffered an apparent hamstring injury Tuesday and had a very light workload Wednesday. We’ll be closely monitoring his health over the coming weeks.
7. Rex Burkhead is hurt again. The oft-injured running back was limited during the Patriots’ final few Foxboro practices last week, and he didn’t suit up for any of the three Lions sessions, instead going through conditioning work with banged-up wideouts Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas. Burkhead has brought great value to New England’s offense since he came aboard in 2017, but he’s missed 14 games over those two seasons.
8. You likely won’t see most of the Patriots’ starters on the field Thursday night, including quarterback Tom Brady. Click here for the full list of players we expect to sit out.