Patriots Training Camp Observations: Three Key Players Injured On Day 10

Plus: Another N'Keal Harry highlight


August 8, 2021

FOXBORO, Mass. — After an off-day, the New England Patriots were back on the practice field Sunday afternoon for their 10th practice of training camp.

Here’s everything we saw during that session:

Full pads.

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
OLB Chase Winovich (PUP)
DT Akeem Spence
LB Cameron McGrone (non-football injury list)
LB Terez Hall (PUP)
S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI)
DT Byron Cowart (PUP)

Agholor was the headliner here, as this was the first practice the well-paid wideout had missed this summer.

Tight end Devin Asiasi practiced for the first time this summer after being removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday. Center/guard Ted Karras, defensive tackle Christian Barmore and wide receiver Devin Ross all returned after missing time.

Linebacker Kyle Van Noy practiced without a red non-contact jersey for the first time since camp began.

Stidham remains sidelined after reportedly undergoing a back procedure that will sideline him until at least late October, but he did attend practice for the first time.

Tight end Hunter Henry left practice early after having his left shoulder evaluated by head trainer Jim Whalen. Henry appeared to suffer the injury early in practice, while he was locked up with linebacker Anfernee Jennings during an open-field run-blocking drill. He continued to participate for another half-hour or so but was visibly uncomfortable, frequently rotating his left arm in its socket.

An extended absence for Henry would radically alter New England’s offense, which is expected to heavily rely on two-tight end sets featuring him and fellow free agent addition Jonnu Smith. We’ll see if he’s healthy enough to participate Monday.

Speaking of Smith, the Patriots’ other high-priced tight end was thrust into the unfamiliar position of long snapper Sunday after Joe Cardona exited practice with an apparent hand injury. Smith snapped to Jake Bailey during a punt period. When the Patriots practiced field goals, defensive lineman Deatrich Wise handled snapping duties.

The Patriots lost a third key contributor when starting center David Andrews appeared to injure his hand midway through practice. Andrews stayed on the field but watched the rest of practice from the sideline. With Karras still working his way back to full participation, James Ferentz stepped in at center on the top unit.

A broken thumb sidelined Andrews for a month early last season.

Reserve offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins also left practice early with a member of the training staff.

This was a good day overall for Cam Newton. The veteran went 12-for-13 in 11-on-11 drills, including a perfectly placed deep ball to receiver Kristian Wilkerson. His lone incompletion came on a long bomb to N’Keal Harry.

Jones completed his first 11 passes in 11-on-11s but ran into some issues during the second half of practice. He finished 16-for-21 with three passes broken up and a drop by Gunner Olszewski. It was the fourth time in the last five competitive practices that Jones’ number of passing attempts far outpaced Newton’s.

Both QBs threw interceptions during a brief 7-on-7 period, with both coming on passes thrown behind their attended receiver. Devin McCourty picked off a Newton pass intended for Jakobi Meyers, and a Jones throw to Marvin Hall found Michael Jackson instead.

Harry ran an excellent route to shake Joejuan Williams during receiver/defensive back 1-on-1s, then laid out to haul in a long touchdown pass from Newton. The diving catch — from a wideout who often struggles to create separation — might have been the standout play of camp thus far.

With Agholor out, Wilkerson and Meyers both were busy. The former was targeted a team-high 11 times in competitive team drills, finishing with seven receptions. The latter caught all seven passes thrown his way in 11-on-11s.

Defensively, hybrid safety/linebacker Adrian Phillips continued his fantastic camp. He registered at least three run stuffs in 11-on-11s, standing up Damien Harris in the hole on one rep and later stopping Sony Michel in the backfield on back-to-back plays from the goal line.

Defensive tackle Carl Davis also stood out once again, notching two decisive wins in linemen 1-on-1s (against Marcus Martin and Alex Redmond) and stonewalling James White during a full-team period. Davis is making a very strong case for a roster spot.

— In addition to Smith’s and Wise’s snapping work, the Patriots practiced a few worst-case-scenario field goals to close out practice. On those, Wise snapped, receiver/punt returner Gunner Olszewski held and punter Jake Bailey kicked. (All three of Bailey’s attempts were blocked, but that appeared to be the design of the drill.)

— The entire Patriots offense — including offensive coaches — had to run a lap after linebacker Dont’a Hightower ran through a White block to “sack” Newton. Earlier in that same series, Van Noy stuffed Harris for no gain.

— Two other notable defensive plays: J.C. Jackson’s breakup of an end-zone fade to Wilkerson, and Matt Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley’s tag-team run stuff against Rhamondre Stevenson.

— Players typically are discouraged from tacking ball-carriers to the ground in training camp, but the Patriots have lifted that restriction for a spell in each of their three padded practices. A handful of the 11-on-11 reps Sunday were truly full-contact, with Ronnie Perkins and Harvey Langi delivering heavy hits on Jakob Johnson and J.J. Taylor, respectively. Safety Cody Davis wore a red pinnie during this period.

A nice warmup for Thursday’s preseason opener against the Washington Football Team.

— Taylor beat Myles Bryant for a long completion from Brian Hoyer during a 4-on-4 drill.

— Harry had just one reception in team drills but again flashed in 1-on-1s and 4-on-4s. In addition to his aforementioned highlight-reel grab against Williams, he also had a nice contested catch against Bryant and beat Kyle Dugger deep.

— Players who worked on punt protection/coverage during an early positional period included receivers Wilkerson and Olszewski, linebackers Harvey Langi and Josh Uche, edge rushers Rashod Berry and Ronnie Perkins, and cornerbacks Joejuan Williams and Dee Virgin. Special teams mainstays Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Cody Davis and Brandon King were part of that group, as well.

— A scuffle broke out between Wilkerson and defensive back Jalen Mills after Mills tried to rip the ball out of the wideout’s hand after the whistle. The two were separated by teammates and, since no punches were thrown, were allowed to continue practicing.

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images
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