Patriots Training Camp Observations: What We Saw In First Padded Practice

The Patriots were in full pads for the first time


Aug 1, 2022

FOXBORO, Mass. — After enjoying their first off-day of training camp, the New England Patriots strapped the pads on Monday for the first time since last season.

Here’s everything we observed at the team’s first padded practice:

Full pads.

The Patriots’ secondary was at full strength for the first time this summer, with Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant and Jabrill Peppers all making their training camp debuts.

Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer remained out. He has now missed three consecutive practices and hasn’t taken a competitive rep since Day 1 of camp.

Defensive end Deatrich Wise, who sat out the previous three practices, was present in pads but worked on the side rehab field away from the team. Rookie running back Pierre Strong joined him there. Strong has been at every camp practice but has yet to participate.

Running back James White (physically unable to perform list) and rookie O-linemen Chasen Hines (non-football injury list) and Andrew Stueber (NFI) remained sidelined.

After throwing a pick-six on his penultimate pass of Saturday’s practice, Mac Jones got off to a suboptimal start Monday. On his first competitive rep, the Patriots’ starting quarterback tried to hit rookie receiver Tyquan Thornton on a crossing route but instead found cornerback Terrance Mitchell, who didn’t need to move to nab his first interception of camp.

Jones has thrown an interception in each of the last three practices after being clean in that area in the first two. He finished 5-for-9 in 11-on-11 drills and 5-for-6 in 7-on-7s. Three of his other incompletions were broken up by defenders — including another potential INT that Butler dropped — and a fourth was a throwaway at the feet of running back Rhamondre Stevenson.

Jones’ best pass of the day was a bomb down the left sideline to DeVante Parker, who beat Malcolm Butler for his fifth contested touchdown catch of camp.

Rookie Bailey Zappe posted identical stats (5 of 9 in 11s, 5 of 6 in 7s) with no interceptions. His best throw found tight end Devin Asiasi for a touchdown around Bryant.

Zappe has had his struggles this summer, but he’s seen a lot of work with Hoyer out of practice.

Parker beat Butler twice for long touchdowns — one in 11-on-11s and one in the first competitive 1-on-1 period of training camp. Both beat tight coverage and elicited raucous cheers from the fans in attendance.

The veteran wideout has shown off his contested-catch ability in multiple practices, dominating a few red-zone periods early in camp. He’s also had a handful of targets broken up, however, and said after practice that he’s working on “being more physical in certain situations.”

— The Parker-over-Butler catch was one of several standout plays in receiver/defensive back 1-on-1s.

Jakobi Meyers beat Jonathan Jones on an in-breaking route despite losing a shoe in his break. Kendrick Bourne scored two clean wins over Jalen Mills, including a pretty back-shoulder ball from Mac Jones. Thornton went 2-0 against Joejuan Williams, winning against press coverage on a slant and again on a diving deep ball.

Defensively, Bryant won both of his 1-on-1 reps in his first practice back, beating Ty Montgomery and Jakobi Meyers. Rookie Marcus Jones was 2-0 with one pass breakup against Tre Nixon. Mitchell would have been flagged for defensive pass interference after running into a streaking Nelson Agholor.

— It was notable that Thornton was on the field on the opening rep of 11-on-11s. He’s seen a lot of work with the offensive regulars in camp, even if he’s still likely behind Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Parker and Nelson Agholor in the wideout pecking order.

— This was an up-and-down day for Butler, who struggled in coverage during the opening week of camp. The returning Super Bowl XLIX hero allowed the two bombs to Parker but rebounded with two end-zone breakups in the final competitive period, knocking the ball away from Parker and undercutting a floater into the corner intended for Thornton.

Butler isn’t guaranteed a roster spot as he attempts to return from a one-year retirement. He’ll need more plays like those if he hopes to stick in his second go-round in New England.

— Monday’s practice also featured the first 1-on-1 lineman drills of camp.

Defensive tackles Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux both impressed in those, with the latter overpowering starting center David Andrews on one rep. Offensive tackle Trent Brown put Josh Uche on the ground as the linebacker rushed off the edge.

Rookie Cole Strange didn’t look overwhelmed in his first taste of full-contact NFL action, but he wasn’t able to hold his block on reps against Barmore and Henry Anderson, committing a possible hold on the latter. Bill Belichick pulled the first-round pick aside for some pointers after that one.

— Anfernee Jennings, Adrian Phillips, Harvey Langi, Daniel Ekuale all notched run stuffs during 11-on-11s. Sixth-round rookie Sam Roberts and undrafted free agent LaBryan Ray also had some nice moments against the Patriots’ second-team O-line.

The biggest hit of practice — which did not feature live tackling — came courtesy of Ja’Whaun Bentley, who popped Stevenson on one 11-on-11 rep and knocked his helmet off.

— Bentley and Raekwon McMillan continued to run as the Patriots’ top inside linebacker duo. That’s been the case since the spring.

Meanwhile, we saw a shift in the Patriots’ cornerback competition, with rookie Jack Jones joining Jalen Mills on the top unit and Mitchell bumping down to the second team with Butler. We’ve seen a fair bit of rotation within this position group, so we’ll see if this was a one-day shakeup or something more. Mitchell was among the Patriots’ top cover men during the opening week of camp.

— Uche stretched out his right arm to break up a Zappe pass in 11s. The third-year linebacker has mostly been used as a pass rusher in his career, but he dropped into coverage on that play.

— Running back J.J. Taylor had a drop, failing to corral a short pass from Zappe.

— Joe Judge spoke this spring about the Patriots wanting their assistants to be able to coach multiple position groups, and he’s exemplified that versatility in these last few practices. After working with the field-goal unit during a special teams period Saturday, Judge could be seen coaching up wide receivers during one drill Monday.

Judge is the Patriots’ quarterbacks coach, so Mac Jones’ development is his primary responsibility. But he’s also listed as an “offensive assistant” and has coached both special teams and wideouts in the past. The Patriots evidently want to utilize his experience in those areas.

— Ty Montgomery, Dugger, Stevenson and Nixon practiced kick returns.

— Mac Jones continued to take reps as a field-goal holder, with the Patriots wanting to be prepared in the event of a Jake Bailey injury.

Bailey, who signed a four-year contract extension before practice, said Jones “needs work” in that role, though he acknowledged that only one of them (Jones) has held for kicks in a college football national championship game.

Jones was Alabama’s primary holder, keeping that job even after he took over as the Crimson Tide’s starting quarterback. On Monday, he took snaps from linebacker/emergency long snapper Mack Wilson, who overlapped with the QB in Tuscaloosa.

— Players were a bit too eager to hit each other in this first padded practice. At least eight of them jumped offsides in 1-on-1 or team drills, prompting a seemingly endless parade of penalty laps.

Coaches surely will be stressing the need for much better discipline when they review the film from this practice.

Among that group: tackle Isaiah Wynn, who committed a false start on the first rep of 11-on-11s.

— Former Patriots safety Patrick Chung was a special guest at practice.’s coverage of New England Patriots preseason is presented by Cross Insurance, protecting your team since 1954.

The Patriots will be back on the practice field — again in full pads — Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images
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