Patriots Training Camp Observations: Mac Jones Efficient In Two-Minute

Plus: Three key players remained sidelined Monday


Aug 9, 2021

FOXBORO, Mass. — A collection of observations, notes and takeaways from the New England Patriots 11th training camp practice:

The Patriots were in full pads for the second straight day and the fourth time this summer. Tuesday likely will be a lighter practice ahead of Thursday’s preseason opener against the Washington Football Team.

Did not participate:
QB Jarrett Stidham (physically unable to perform list)
K Nick Folk
CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP)
RB Brandon Bolden
S Adrian Colbert
DB D’Angelo Ross
LS Joe Cardona
OLB Chase Winovich (PUP)
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)

Projected starters Henry, Andrews and Cardona all suffered injuries during Sunday’s practice. It remains to be seen how long each will be sidelined, though X-rays on Andrews’ injured hand reportedly came back negative.

Cardona’s injury prompted a roster move, as the Patriots cut fourth-string quarterback Jake Dolegala to sign long snapper Brian Khoury. Khoury made his practice debut Monday, wearing No. 46.

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor and defensive tackle Akeem Spence both returned after sitting out the previous one and four practices, respectively. Reserve offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins also was back after leaving early Sunday.

Agholor appeared limited. He was not targeted in 11-on-11 drills.

Center/guard Ted Karras (missed six practices with a knee injury) and tight end Devin Asiasi (missed nine practices while on the reserve/COVID-19 list) both increased their levels of participation Monday after returning to action the previous day. Karras was the top-choice center with Andrews sidelined.

Rookie defensive tackle Christian Barmore again spent time in the medical shed after 1-on-1 drills. Barmore, who’s reportedly dealing with a bothersome foot blister, later returned to practice and appeared to be a full participant in 11-on-11s.

After tilting the rep distribution toward rookie Mac Jones in four of the previous five competitive practices, the Patriots gave Cam Newton the slightly heavier workload Monday. The veteran completed 11 of 17 passes during 11-on-11s, highlighted by a perfectly placed deep ball to running back James White.

Newton tossed the only interception of practice, with safety Adrian Phillips picking off a pass that was thrown slightly behind tight end Jonnu Smith. Newton also had a couple of underthrown passes in receiver/defensive back 1-on-1s that resulted in pass breakups, and he skipped a pass to wideout Kristian Wilkerson during the final period of practice.

Jones went 11-for-14, capping his day with an efficient 4-for-4 performance in a two-minute drill against the scout-team defense. The first-round draft pick opened that series with a deep completion to running back Sony Michel — on a similar play to White’s long gain from Newton — and capped it with a back-shoulder touchdown pass to Marvin Hall, who made a strong contested catch against cornerback Justin Bethel.

Jones, who was dinged during the pre-draft process for his relative lack of athleticism compared to other top QB prospects, also showed off some strong pocket mobility during his penultimate series.

First, he scrambled out of the pocket, scanned the field and found receiver Kendrick Bourne over the middle for a completion. Three plays later, he threw on the move to hit a slanting Wilkerson for a short touchdown. That drive came against New England’s first-team defense.

Jones has shown a tendency to fade late in practices, so this strong finish was a positive development for the youngster.

Defensive end Deatrich Wise and linebacker Josh Uche both flashed as pass rushers and run defenders, and Phillips continued to be a ball hawk in the secondary, finishing with an interception and a pass breakup (both against Smith).

Phillips has been the MVP of training camp thus far.

The bombs to White (over linebacker Kyle Van Noy) and Michel (over linebacker Anfernee Jennings) were the standout moments of practice. Michel’s had a higher degree of difficulty — he needed to adjust his body to catch Jones’ pass over his outside shoulder — so we’ll give him the nod.

— Henry’s injury shifts the spotlight to Asiasi and Matt LaCosse, who will see their playing time increase alongside No. 1 option Smith. Neither player caught a pass in team drills Monday, with Asiasi dropping the only target he’s seen since returning to the field.

Asiasi, a 2020 third-round draft pick, said after practice that he’s still working his way back to full speed after his bout with COVID. LaCosse has enjoyed a solid camp overall as he returns from his COVID-19 opt-out.

— One of Newton’s 11-on-11 periods featured seven passing plays. Three of them would have resulted in sacks had defenders been allowed to hit the quarterback — one by Wise and two by Uche.

— Barmore delivered the most impressive rep of 1-on-1s before he left to receive medical attention, manhandling reserve guard Alex Redmond. This has not been a strong camp for Redmond, who’s been on the wrong end of several decisive 1-on-1 victories.

— Matt Judon used a nice hesitation-to-speed move to blow past right tackle Trent Brown in 1-on-1s. Later, he and Wise — who had a 1-on-1 win against starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn — teamed up to snuff out a screen pass to tight end Troy Fumagalli.

— Two backup defenders combined for one of the loudest defensive plays of the day, as D-tackle Nick Thurman and cornerback Joejuan Williams combined to drop Michel in the backfield on a goal-line handoff. Uche also had a goal-line run stuff against Michel in the same period.

— Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley stuffed Damien Harris and Michel on back-to-back snaps in 11-on-11s. New England’s run defense — a major weakness of last year’s team — has looked much-improved this summer.

— For the second straight day, Wilkerson led all Patriots pass-catchers in targets during team drills, seeing three from Newton and three from Jones. The early-camp standout finished with just two catches, however, and dropped two passes.

— The Patriots rotated liberally along the offensive line during 11-on-11s, with nearly every lineman logging reps with Newton and Jones.

— Gunner Olszewski fared well in 1-on-1s and 3-on-3s, winning reps against J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Dee Virgin (twice) and Michael Jackson. Jones broke up passes intended for Bourne and Jakobi Meyers during these periods. J.C. Jackson had a PBU against Wilkerson.

— Van Noy batted down a Newton pass in 11-on-11s.

— The Patriots will practice inside Gillette Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. It’ll be their final tuneup before they host the Washington Football Team on Thursday night in their preseason opener.

Thumbnail photo via David Silverman/New England Patriots
New England Patriots quarterbacks Cam Newton, Mac Jones
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