Patriots Training Camp Observations: Mac Jones Shines In Rain On Day 8

Jones received the bulk of QB reps for the third time in four days

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FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots took the field in a driving rainstorm Thursday for their eighth practice of training camp.

Here’s everything we saw during that soggy session:

ATTIRE
Full pads.

This was what head coach Bill Belichick called the Patriots’ second “real” practice of the summer. The other six — including Wednesday’s — were non-padded.

ATTENDANCE
Did not participate:
QB Jarrett Stidham (physically unable to perform list)
K Nick Folk
WR Devin Ross
S Cody Davis
CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP)
DB D’Angelo Ross
TE Dalton Keene (PUP)
DT Christian Barmore
LB Raekwon McMillan
LB Chase Winovich (PUP)
DT Akeem Spence
LB Cameron McGrone (non-football injury list)
LB Terez Hall (PUP)
S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI)
C/G Ted Karras
TE Devin Asiasi (reserve/COVID-19 list)
DT Byron Cowart (PUP)

Limited:
LB Kyle Van Noy (red non-contact jersey)

This was the longest absent list of training camp to date. Folk, Barmore, Davis and both Rosses were new absences. Karras has missed the last five practices. McMillan and Spence have sat out the last two.

The majority of those players spent the morning doing rehab and conditioning work.

INJURY REPORT
Safety Adrian Colbert could be seen walking toward the locker room with a team staffer before the end of practice. Rookie edge rusher Ronnie Perkins had his left hand checked out by members of the training staff during one drill.

QUARTERBACK REPORT
For the third time in the last four practices, Mac Jones received the lion’s share of QB reps.

Cam Newton got first ups once again, but Jones stayed behind center for two prolonged stretches in 11-on-11 drills, taking 14 consecutive reps in one and 13 in the other.

Including a less competitive two-minute period that ended practice, Jones went 15-for-19 in full-team drills. Removing that series, the rookie was 10-for-14. Newton, meanwhile, finished the day 5-for-11 and was just 2-of-6 when the final period began.

Jones, who’s rebounded nicely since stumbling through his worst practice of camp on Tuesday, looked sharp amid difficult passing conditions. He delivered the two most impressive completions of the day, connecting with running back James White (against Myles Bryant) and receiver Kristian Wilkerson (against Dee Virgin) on deep balls down the right sideline.

The 2021 first-rounder also showed nice touch on an outside-the-numbers throw that looped over a leaping Kyle Dugger and settled in the arms of tight end Hunter Henry, and threw on-time to N’Keal Harry on a drag route that resulted in a big gain. Earlier, Jones hit Wilkerson on a go route to beat starting cornerback J.C. Jackson in 1-on-1 drills.

Two of Jones’ four incompletions in 11-on-11s were dropped (by Wilkerson and Kendrick Bourne). His reps came against both the starting defense and the scout-team defense.

Overall, despite the elements, it was one of Jones’ most consistent days yet.

Newton wasn’t given much to do. Before his final two-minute drill, just six of the veteran’s 20 11-on-11 reps were passing plays. One of his incompletions was a White drop, and three were broken up by defenders.

Two of those PBU could be at least partially blamed on Newton. He threw behind Henry on a pass that was knocked down by linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley and waited too long to deliver a pass to Nelson Agholor, resulting in a Jackson breakup.

Jones and Newton each went 4-for-6 in 7-on-7s.

Over the last four practices, Jones has attempted 64 passes in 11-on-11s to Newton’s 39. Newton remains the clear starter at this juncture, but the Patriots are giving their young gun a long look. It will be very interesting to see how QB snaps are divvied up in the preseason — which begins next Thursday night against Washington — and in joint practices against the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

Third-stringer Brian Hoyer went 0-for-3 in his brief 11-on-11 action, and Jake Dolegala handed off on his lone competitive rep.

PLAYER OF THE DAY
Jones.

Honorable mention: Carl Davis, who showed out in 1-on-1s against Patriots offensive linemen. Davis notched clear wins against Will Sherman and Justin Herron and two against Marcus Martin, displaying impressive power. He also busted out some elaborate dance moves when the practice field loudspeaker began blaring music between drills.

Multiple concussions limited Davis to just three games last season, but he played well when active. The 29-year-old journeyman is making a strong case for a roster spot this summer.

PLAY OF THE DAY
The long ball to White was an excellent throw and catch. The block of the day came courtesy of tight end Jonnu Smith, who blasted Josh Uche off the edge during a half-line rushing drill.

ASSORTED NOTES
— One lowlight from Jones came when he and Martin fumbled an exchange during a rushing-focused period, resulting in penalty laps for both.

Smith, Perkins, Uche, Anfernee Jennings, R.J. Prince and Rashod Berry also ran laps.

— Jackson and Bentley broke up two passes apiece. Bentley, who is not known for his coverage skills, has two PBUs and two interceptions over the last four practices.

? Standouts from O-line/D-line 1-on-1s included Trent Brown, guards Shaq Mason and Mike Onwenu, and centers David Andrews and James Ferentz. Andrews pancaked Nick Thurman on one rep, and Ferentz, a career backup, held his own against some of New England’s defensive starters.

— Between 1-on-1 reps, defensive end Deatrich Wise could be seen giving some individual instruction to veteran newcomer Montravius Adams.

— Running back Damien Harris showed eye-popping explosiveness as he followed blocks by Onwenu and Isaiah Wynn for a big gain in 11-on-11s. Harris is a real breakout candidate as he enters his third season.

— Patriots quarterbacks picked on Virgin, who’s struggled in coverage this summer. Jalen Mills, Michael Jackson and Joejuan Williams also have been inconsistent. New England desperately needs Gilmore back before the start of the regular season.

— Safety Adrian Phillips broke up a pass to Smith and blew up a rushing play in the backfield. If we were naming a training camp MVP through eight practices, Phillips would be on the shortlist.

— Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson on Wednesday bowled over Bryant in one of the loudest collisions of camp so far.

The second-year defensive back got his revenge Thursday.

Bryant, who’s roughly 40 pounds lighter than the stocky, 227-pound Stevenson, full-on tackled him on back-to-back reps during 11-on-11 drills. The second was a tackle for loss, with Bryant blitzing in to drop Stevenson in the backfield.

Full, to-the-ground tackles are relatively rare in training camp, so these takedowns were instantly memorable.

— Henry and Smith worked separately with the Patriots’ four quarterbacks during a kickoff period.

— The rain-soaked practice featured multiple fumble recovery drills.

— Practice ended with a series of field-goal attempts by undrafted rookie Quinn Nordin. Unfortunately, the orientation of the media area made it difficult to see how successful these kicks were.

With Folk out, Nordin was the only kicker in practice.

— Special guest at practice: former Patriots safety Patrick Chung, who announced his retirement from the NFL earlier this year.

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