Patriots Minicamp Notes: Cam Newton Bounces Back In Spring Finale

Plus: A tough end to the spring for Mac Jones


June 16, 2021

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots officially are on summer vacation.

The Patriots held their final full-team practice of the spring Wednesday, wrapping up their three-day mandatory minicamp. Here’s everything we saw in that session:

— Cam Newton continued to take first quarterback reps, followed by Mac Jones, Jarrett Stidham and, occasionally, Brian Hoyer.

This was easily Newton’s best practice of minicamp. After struggling with his accuracy on Days 1 and 2, the Patriots’ incumbent starter fared much Wednesday, completing 14 of 17 passes in 11-on-11 drills and 3 of 4 in 7-on-7s. Two of his four incompletions were broken up by defenders, and three came on deep balls.

This had to be a nice confidence boost for Newton — who appeared frustrated at times during Tuesday’s practice — and for New England’s coaching staff.

Jones delivered some nice throws early — his thread-the-needle touchdown pass to Kristian Wilkerson in 7-on-7s was a standout play — but closed out the spring on a sour note. The first-round draft pick completed just three of his last 10 passes and sailed his final throw into the chest of safety Adrian Colbert for an ugly interception. Jones also overthrew his intended target multiple times during this stretch.

The rep distribution between Jones and Newton was more equitable than it was Tuesday, when Jones threw 25 passes in team drills to Newton’s 17.

Stidham got an extended look at the end of practice and generally looked sharp, though he did throw an interception to cornerback Justin Bethel on a pass intended for wideout Marvin Hall.

Hoyer attempted just three passes in 11-on-11s and none in 7-on-7s, completing two.

Full QB stats from Wednesday:

Newton: 17-for-21 (14-for-17 in 11-on-11s)
Jones: 11-for-20 (10-for-18)
Stidham: 10-for-14 (9-for-12)
Hoyer: 2-for-3 (2-for-3)

— Five players missed all three minicamp practices:

CB Stephon Gilmore
OLB Chase Winovich
LB Terez Hall
DT Byron Cowart
OLB Rashod Berry

Every other player was present for all three sessions. Winovich is expected to be ready for training camp, a source told NESN’s Doug Kyed.

— Wednesday was another light day for tight end Jonnu Smith, who again was relegated to observer status as he continues to recover from an apparent hamstring injury he suffered Monday. For the second straight day, Smith did not take a single rep in individual or team drills.

Smith skipped organized team activities and got hurt in his first minicamp practice, so we saw very little of him — and of him and Hunter Henry together in the Patriots’ offense — this spring.

— Wide receiver Nelson Agholor did not participate in the second half of practice. A team trainer appeared to be checking out his ankle or calf during an offensive walkthrough, and he subsequently watched team drills from behind the play with his helmet off.

Like Smith, who was glued to the side of tight ends coach Nick Caley, Agholor stood feet away from wideouts coach Mick Lombardi for much of this time. Both pass-catchers signed with the Patriots on Day 1 of NFL free agency.

Agholor, who also had a long chat with Lombardi during a special teams period, sat out the Patriots’ final open OTA last week but participated in the first two days of minicamp.

— Running back Brandon Bolden exited the main field about 45 minutes into practice and could be seen walking toward the lower rehab field. Linebacker Anfernee Jennings, wide receiver Devin Smith and tight end Dalton Keene also spent time on the side field, though Keene later returned and took part in team drills. Linebacker Cameron McGrone was limited, as well.

— Right guard Shaq Mason was back in team drills after sitting those out Tuesday. If all parties are healthy, we expect the Patriots’ starting offensive line to be (from left to right) Isaiah Wynn, Mike Onwenu, David Andrews, Mason and Trent Brown, with Ted Karras serving as the top interior reserve.

— We witnessed some Alabama-on-Alabama crime when rookie defensive tackle Christian Barmore appeared to get a hand on a Jones pass during a third-down 11-on-11 period. The ball bounced straight in the air but dropped straight into the arms of running back Sony Michel for a completion.

— Josh Uche, who was a pass-rushing menace throughout the spring, would have sacked Jones on one 11-on-11 rep if defenders had been allowed to hit the quarterback. D-tackle Davon Godchaux also had a “sack” on Stidham.

— A Stidham strike to tryout receiver Devin Ross on an over route drew a big cheer from Newton, who rushed in to give his fellow QB a leaping body bump.

— Running back J. J. Taylor nearly made a diving catch on a well-placed deep ball from Newton in 11-on-11s but couldn’t hang on.

— Wide receiver N’Keal Harry could be seen grabbing at his right calf late in Tuesday’s practice, but he was a full participant Wednesday.

— Jake Bailey — the Patriots’ Most Valuable Player last season — flashed his All-Pro leg and touch during a punt period. One of his punts hit inside the 5-yard line and died. Two others were downed at the 1-yard line by Justin Bethel and Wilkerson.

— Gunner Olszewski, another 2020 All-Pro, remains the Patriots’ top-choice punt returner. Taylor, Tre Nixon, Marvin Hall and Jakobi Meyers all have taken reps there, as well.

— The Patriots closed out the afternoon by gathering to honor retiring football research director Ernie Adams. This was the final practice for Adams, who made a rare appearance in front of the media beforehand.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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