Patriots Training Camp Notes: New Safety Debuts At In-Stadium Practice

Plus: Another strong day for Quinn Nordin


August 10, 2021

FOXBORO, Mass. — Some assorted notes, observations and takeaways from a lighter Tuesday evening at New England Patriots training camp:

— The Patriots practiced inside Gillette Stadium for the second time this summer. Like last Friday’s simulated game, this session was non-competitive, with players wearing helmets and shells and moving through most drills at half-speed.

— New England made a roster move before practice, releasing running back Tyler Gaffney and signing safety Malik Gant.

Gant, a hard-hitting safety out of Marshall, initially joined the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2019 and spent his entire rookie season on New England’s injured reserve. He was cut before training camp last summer when the Patriots needed to purge their roster from 90 players to 80.

Over his final two collegiate seasons, Gant tallied 195 tackles, 15 1/2 tackles for loss, 14 pass breakups and two interceptions while ranking first among 2019 draft-eligible safeties in run-stop percentage, per Pro Football Focus. He made his practice debut Tuesday, wearing No. 19.

Gaffney was a roster long shot as the low man in New England’s well-stocked running back room.

— The following players did not participate in practice:

QB Jarrett Stidham (physically unable to perform list)
K Nick Folk
CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP)
LS Joe Cardona
OLB Chase Winovich (PUP)
DT Christian Barmore
LB Cameron McGrone (non-football injury list)
LB Terez Hall (PUP)
C David Andrews
S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI)
TE Hunter Henry
DT Byron Cowart (PUP)

Barmore was a new addition to the absent list. The second-round draft pick is dealing with a bothersome foot injury that’s caused him to miss three practices and parts of two others.

Folk and Stidham both attended practice in workout clothes.

— Nelson Agholor was present in uniform at the start of practice but left the field before team drills began. Agholor also was limited Monday after sitting out Sunday.

This has been an underwhelming camp for the highly paid wide receiver. Projected as the No. 1 wideout after signing for two years and $22 million in free agency, Agholor has not caught a pass in competitive 11-on-11 drills since last Tuesday.

— Andrews, who’s been dealing with a hand injury, had a good reason for missing practice. He and his wife, Mackenzie, were celebrating the birth of their first child.

— Running back Brandon Bolden, safety Adrian Colbert and defensive back D’Angelo Ross all returned to practice. Colbert wore a red non-contact jersey.

— UDFA kicker Quinn Nordin put forth another strong performance, going 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts with makes from 33, 43, 46 and 48 yards. He’s now a perfect 14-for-14 across the Patriots’ two in-stadium practices.

Nordin did not face a live kick rush in either practice, though. That challenge will come Thursday night when the Patriots host the Washington Football Team in their preseason opener.

The Patriots were the only NFL team to offer a contract to Nordin, who had begun looking for real-world jobs on LinkedIn after going undrafted and unsigned. The Michigan product is looking to unseat Folk, who now has missed five consecutive practices with an undisclosed injury.

— Though the majority of drills Tuesday were non-competitive, cornerback Michael Jackson registered a pass breakup after running stride for stride with wideout Tre Nixon on a go route. Jackson is a dark-horse roster candidate in the Patriots’ secondary.

J.C. Jackson also broke up a pass, and linebacker Harvey Langi had an interception against third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer.

— Since the Patriots aren’t practicing Wednesday, this was the last time we’ll Mac Jones commanding a huddle while wearing No. 50. The Patriots are required to give their rookies position-appropriate numbers ahead of their first preseason game, ditching their temporary training camp digits.

Expect new numbers for the following first-year players:

No. 50: QB Mac Jones
No. 51: DT Christian Barmore
No. 52: OLB Ronnie Perkins
No. 53: RB Rhamondre Stevenson
No. 54: LB Cameron McGrone
No. 58: OL Will Sherman
No. 59: WR Tre Nixon
No. 60: S Joshuah Bledsoe
No. 61: K Quinn Nordin

Of note: No. 10, which Jones wore at Alabama, is available.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images
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