Patriots Minicamp Notes: How Cam Newton’s Return Shook Up QB Reps

The Patriots were plagued by drops in a rainy practice session


June 14, 2021

FOXBORO, Mass. — Cam Newton’s hand injury didn’t keep the New England Patriots starting quarterback out of spring practices for long.

Newton hurt his hand June 4 at organized team activities and wasn’t present for the Patriots’ practice session on June 10. He returned late last week and retained his starting spot in New England’s offense Monday at Day 1 of mandatory minicamp.

Newton went 12-of-20 in team drills during a very wet and rainy practice session. One of Newton’s eight incompletions was dropped.

Rookie Mac Jones served as the No. 2 quarterback Monday after receiving third-team reps last week. When Newton was out, Jarrett Stidham, not Jones, took on the top role.

Jones went 13-of-20 on Monday, and two of his seven incompletions were dropped. Stidham went 8-of-15, and three of his seven incompletions were dropped.

Brian Hoyer took a backseat as the fourth option and went 2-of-6 with an interception. One of Hoyer’s four incompletions was dropped.

More notes from Monday’s minicamp practice:

— Cornerback Stephon Gilmore, linebackers Terez Hall, Ra’Shod Berry and Chase Winovich and defensive tackle Byron Cowart were absent from Monday’s session. Gilmore doesn’t intend to attend minicamp, which runs through Wednesday, the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian reported Monday. Gilmore is due for a pay raise and injured his quad late last season.

— Tight end Jonnu Smith, left tackle Isaiah Wynn and running backs Sony Michel, James White and Brandon Bolden all were present Monday for the first time at a spring practice in front of reporters.

— Smith, tight end Troy Fumagalli and wide receivers Gunner Olszewski, Isaiah Zuber, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Kristian Wilkerson dropped passes in the persistently wet conditions. Smith looked rusty in his return to the field after skipping OTAs and didn’t finish the session after appearing to tweak his left hamstring.

— Safety Adrian Phillips and cornerbacks D’Angelo Ross and Jonathan Jones broke up passes. Ross’ breakup came in 1-on-1 drills in a rep against starting tight end Hunter Henry. Henry otherwise had a solid showing.

— Linebacker Kyle Van Noy was the man who picked off Hoyer. Van Noy dropped an interception earlier in the spring on a pass from Jones.

— Wynn was back at practice and resumed his post in the starting offense. Wynn’s return pushed Trent Brown to the right side of the line and moved Mike Onwenu inside to guard.

— Wide receiver N’Keal Harry bounced back Monday and stood out more than he had in three previous practices in front of reporters. He’s certainly the Patriots’ biggest wideout and has an advantage over his peers thanks to his size. He doesn’t necessarily show the same quickness as New England’s other receivers, however. He still appears to be on the outside looking in at a starting spot in the offense behind Jakobi Meyers, Agholor and Bourne.

— Meyers continues to shine. If the season started today, it would be difficult to imagine him serving in a reserve role. He had the play of the day on a back-shoulder catch on a throw from Jones.

— The Patriots had two players in for tryouts Monday. There was a wide receiver wearing No. 87 and an offensive lineman in No. 63.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss believed the receiver was former Patriots wideout Devin Ross. Free-agent offensive lineman RJ Prince posted a picture of Gillette Stadium on Monday to his Instagram story.

— Defensive tackle Akeem Spence somewhat surprisingly received extensive time in the Patriots’ defense. There’s some real competition at defensive tackle with Spence, Lawrence Guy, Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson, rookie Christian Barmore, Montravius Adams, Carl Davis and others.

— The Patriots’ pass rush continues to bring plenty of pressure, but New England’s offensive linemen are a bit hamstrung without pads nor contact allowed. Brown and fellow tackle Justin Herron took reps for false starts.

— Defensive back Jalen Mills helped fill in for Gilmore’s absence. Mills has the versatility to play cornerback or safety depending on need. Right now, the Patriots need starting-caliber cornerbacks.

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