The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium earlier today for their second session of the summer. Conditions were again perfect, while thousands of spectators packed the stands. Just like yesterday, the team did not wear full pads while the practice in general was not all that competitive. That being said, there’s still plenty to report from it.
Let’s recap what happened:
Returned: DE Deatrich Wise Jr. (off PUP)
Not spotted: OC David Andrews (?), DE Michael Bennett (excused absence), OT Cole Croston (PUP), OT Yodny Cajuste (NFI)
Present but did not participate: QB Tom Brady, WR Julian Edelman (NFI), WR Demaryius Thomas (PUP), RB Sony Michel (PUP), CB Ken Webster (PUP), SS Nate Ebner (PUP).
- Edelman, Thomas, Michel and Ebner began working out on the lower practice fields shortly after the start of practice.
- Patrick Chung again wore a red non-contact jersey. The team captain is recovering from a broken hand suffered in the Super Bowl and offseason shoulder surgery.
- Danny Etling did once again not don the red non-contact jersey that quarterbacks are usually wearing.
- Isaiah Wynn and Deatrich Wise Jr. did some conditioning work on the lower practice field but rejoined the rest of the team late during the session.
- A new offensive lineman wearing jersey #63 was present for the session. New England had an open roster spot due to the retirement of Brian Schwenke earlier this week.
- The training staff had to work on rookie defensive lineman Byron Cowart’s knee at one point midway through the session. He did not return but walked off under his own power.
Quarterback performance: Brian Hoyer went 10 of 13 (11-on-11s), 4 of 5 (7-on-7s), 5 of 6 (4-on-4s) and 3 of 7 with an interception (3-on-3s); Jarrett Stidham went 9 of 12 with an interception (11-on-11s), 2 of 3 (7-on-7s), 1 of 4 (4-on-4s) and 2 of 6 (3-on-3s).
Offensive line: LT Joe Thuney, LG Hjalte Froholdt, C Ted Karras, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon
- The biggest story of the day was, of course, Tom Brady’s non-injury related absence. The future Hall of Famer entered the field alongside Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas, not wearing a jersey or helmet, before watching quarterback and receiver drills. Him taking the day off was the team’s plan, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, but Brady was still quite active basically coaching players.
- With Brady out, Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham split reps as the top quarterbacks. Danny Etling again saw most of his action as a wide receiver and special teamer. Stidham was up-and-down early, but looked very confident during the final 11-on-11 period and in a red zone drill late in the session when he completed all five of his attempts with three touchdowns.
- New England’s offensive line was again subject to movement. With David Andrews still absent and Isaiah Wynn not yet participating in team drills, the team again used Joe Thuney at left tackle. The left guard and center spots, however, looked different with rookie Hjalte Froholdt and veteran Ted Karras manning them. James Ferentz also saw some action at center and left guard again, with Dan Skipper getting some reps in at left tackle in place of Thuney.
- Tight end Matt LaCosse had the catch of the day, when he out-jumped Duron Harmon and Elandon Roberts for a touchdown. He had a drop earlier on a similar route but made up for it with the spectacular deep-ball reception.
- Phillip Dorsett was productive: he caught a 40-yard touchdown from Brian Hoyer off play-action against rookie Joejuan Williams, and also had great leaping catch through traffic during 4-on-4s. His only blemish of the day came when he tried to throw a pass to quarterback-turned-receiver Danny Etling. It went as well as was expected.
- Maurice Harris continued to stand out with his tremendous ball skills and smooth movement; he also was targeted multiple times during 11-on-11s and at one point had a side session with Tom Brady. So far, training camp is a continuation of his strong spring performance.
- The entire offense plus coaches and Brady had to run a lap during an 11-on-11 drill late during the session. It looks like rookie N’Keal Harry lining up in the wrong spot triggered the penalty.
- Defensive backs Devin McCourty, Duke Dawson Jr. and Obi Melifonwu all registered interceptions during a 3-on-3 drill in the red area. Melifonwu in particular stood out today, as he registered a pair of interceptions.
- New England’s defense in general was impressive during red zone drills.
- Chase Winovich got the better of Dan Skipper on an after-practice pass rushing drill.
- While Stephon Gilmore continued to stand out — he broke up a pass intended for Braxton Berrios during 11-on-11 work, one of his few targets on the day — the aforementioned Joejuan Williams did not have the best of days.
- As opposed to Thursday’s practice, the Patriots did in fact ask their punters to punt the ball today. Jake Bailey’s tremendous leg and impressive hang-time — he had three punts of 5+ seconds, per CLNS Media’s Alex Barth — were on display, but so was his inconsistency If he can become more consistent and also work on his directional punting, the job is his to lose.
- Bailey also saw some action as a holder on field goals. For what it’s worth, last year’s challenger at the punter position, Corey Bojorquez, never held on place kick attempts.
- Braxton Berrios, N’Keal Harry, Patrick Chung, Gunner Olszewski, Phillip Dorsett and Maurice Harris were all working on punt returns early during the session.
- Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman was the first player on the field today.
- The entire team — including Ernie Adams — huddled up after the session.
- The Patriots will return to practice fields tomorrow (9:15 a.m. ET) for the first session in full pads.