Patriots Training Camp Observations: Cam Newton Closes Well On Day 2

Plus: A surprise player of the day


Jul 29, 2021

FOXBORO, Mass. — Day 2 of New England Patriots training camp is in the books. Here’s everything we saw at the team’s second summer practice:

Helmets and shorts.

The Patriots can begin wearing shells (soft shoulder pads) on Friday. The earliest they can practice in full pads is Tuesday, according to head coach Bill Belichick.

Did not participate
QB Jarrett Stidham (physically unable to perform list)
CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP)
LB Brandon King (PUP)
TE Dalton Keene (PUP)
LB Chase Winovich (PUP)
RB Rhamondre Stevenson (non-football injury list)
LB Cameron McGrone (NFI)
LB Anfernee Jennings
LB Terez Hall (PUP)
S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI)
TE Devin Asiasi (reserve/COVID-19 list)
DT Byron Cowart (PUP)

LB Kyle Van Noy (red non-contact jersey)

No changes from Wednesday. All 12 of those DNPs also were absent on Day 1.

Belichick said before practice that Stidham “will miss a little time.” To ease the scout-team burden on third-string QB Brian Hoyer, the Patriots claimed ex-Pats practice squadder Jake Dolegala off waivers from the Green Bay Packers. Dolegala participated Thursday, wearing No. 9.

Stevenson watched much of practice from the sideline in workout clothes after completing some conditioning work. Bledsoe also was spotted on the sideline, wearing a brace on his broken right wrist. Gilmore and Winovich spent the morning rehabbing and did not make appearances on the main practice field.

Mac Jones had a tendency to fade toward the end of OTA and minicamp practices, with a large portion of his spring interceptions coming in the latter stages of those sessions.

That was an issue again for Jones on Thursday.

The rookie quarterback looked much sharper than Cam Newton during a mid-practice 7-on-7 drill — he showed stronger anticipation and quicker processing speed while Newton mostly held the ball and checked down to running backs — but he completed just two of his final nine passes in 11-on-11s, finishing 4-of-11 on the day.

Included in those incompletions were three misfires to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers in a four-play span, one of which prompted Jones to slam the ground with both hands in frustration.

Newton, meanwhile, was at his best in the last — and most competitively spirited — period of practice. He closed with completions on five of his final six passes and three late touchdowns to Brandon Bolden (one) and Hunter Henry (two) as Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” blared over the loudspeaker.

The first touchdown to Henry was a dart, and the one to Bolden (who beat second-year linebacker Josh Uche on an out route) might have been Newton’s best throw of the day.

The Patriots also mixed a handful of QB runs into Newton’s early script, highlighting a significant aspect of his skill set that can’t be properly evaluated in a practice setting, where defenses are not allowed to hit the quarterback.

Overall, though, it wasn’t a banner day for either starting QB hopeful. Newton finished 6-for-10 in 11-on-11s and 3-for-4 in 7-on-7s. Jones was 4-for-4 in 7s with a touchdown to Meyers — probably his most impressive throw of the day — and three completions to wideout Kendrick Bourne.

The veteran Hoyer had an efficient day operating with offensive reserves, going 12-for-14 in 11-on-11s. Dolegala did not take a snap in competitive drills.

Want a wild card here? How about tight end Troy Fumagalli, who accounted for more than 20 percent of all completions during 11-on-11s.

The veteran tight end caught five passes on five targets with a couple of touchdowns in full-team drills. The only other non-running back with multiple receptions in 11s was Henry with two.

Fumagalli is a long shot to make the roster, but he’s seen additional opportunities for reps with Asiasi and Keene unavailable.

Not a ton of standout moments in this practice, which saw the Patriots focus heavily on red-zone and goal-line work for the second consecutive day. Jones’ and Newton’s touchdown passes to Bolden and Meyers, respectively, stood out.

Gunner Olszewski also made a nice contested touchdown catch over cornerback Dee Virgin on a throw from Hoyer.

— Linebacker Harvey Langi had a nice two-play stretch in which he “sacked” Jones and then broke up a pass intended for tight end Jonnu Smith. Earlier in practice, Langi ran onto the field late after the Patriots’ scout-team defense realized it had just 10 players.

— Safety Adrian Phillips swatted down a pass from Newton to Henry. Phillips pestered Henry, his former Los Angeles Chargers teammate, on Wednesday, as well, registering an interception and a PBU while covering the star tight end.

— Quiet camp so far for Meyers, last year’s leading receiver. He hasn’t caught a pass in 11-on-11s through two practices and dropped a would-be touchdown pass from Newton on Thursday.

Agholor and N’Keal Harry also finished Day 2 with no catches in 11s. Cornerback Joejuan Williams broke up a pass intended for Harry late in practice.

— Olszewski, Marvin Hall, Tre Nixon, J.J. Taylor and Meyers practiced punt returns. Olszewski, a first-team All-Pro in that role last season, ran a lap after muffing a punt.

— Offensive lineman Mike Onwenu, cornerback J.C. Jackson, running back Tyler Gaffney and defensive linemen Davon Godchaux and Deatrich Wise also had to run penalty laps.

Jackson’s came during punt work. Godchaux and Wise jumped offside on the first rep of an 11-on-11 period, prompting a heads-up Newton to snap the ball and heave a deep ball to Nelson Agholor. (We didn’t include that incompletion in Newton’s stats for the day.)

— The Patriots’ next practice is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. ET on Friday.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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