Training camp practice number seven is in the books for the New England Patriots, and for stretches it looked like the sixth session one day earlier: the defense dominated for large parts, with the offense being sloppy and unable to get into a rhythm. However, the unit picked up the pace later on — thanks in part to two rookie wide receivers making a series of spectacular receptions. With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of Thursday’s practice.
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers
Jakobi Meyers is on a roll, and today he was at his best. Not only did the undrafted rookie start his day by catching two passes during 1-on-1s, he later also saw his first reps with the starters during competitive 11-on-11 drills. The spotlight was not too bright for him. First, Meyers caught a leaping pass over Jason McCourty before making what is arguably the best reception of camp so far: he went up between defensive backs Patrick Chung and Keion Crossen, tipped the ball towards the end zone, and caught it there for a touchdown. A great play, and another big moment for the rookie.
Winner: WR N’Keal Harry
Yesterday, N’Keal Harry was an enigma. He made two outstanding catches but also ended the day with four drops — three of which in team work. The Patriots’ first-round pick bounced back on Thursday, however. While not all was perfect and he still is a bit too inconsistent of a target, Harry looked comfortable catching the ball today and also was competitive during 1-on-1s — all while showing strong mental toughness after a challenging Wednesday.
Winner: DE Deatrich Wise Jr.
After opening training camp on the physically unable to perform list, Deatrich Wise Jr. slowly worked his way back into the defensive edge rotation. Today, the third-year man had his best day to date capped by back-to-back outstanding plays on the goal line: rookie Damien Harris was handed the ball twice at the 1-yard line, and twice Wise Jr. stonewalled him before he could get through the line. He also took a team-high seven 1-on-1 reps and appears to be well on his way back to full strength.
Loser: OG Shaq Mason
On the list of things the Patriots have to worry about, Shaq Mason doesn’t even register. That being said, the team’s starting right guard did not have his best day today. Not only did he have his fair share of struggles during 1-on-1 drills, the 25-year-old also was sent on a penalty lap during team work for committing a false start — the offense was sloppy for large parts of practice, and so was Mason. Nevertheless, he should be expected to bounce back.
Winner: DT Danny Shelton
Danny Shelton was an under-the-radar signing when the Patriots brought him back two months into free agency. Early on during training camp, however, he has been a consistent performer during goal-line work against the run. Today, for example, the former first-round draft pick stuffed Brandon Bolden on a rushing attempt up the middle. Shelton is a hard player to move off the spot, and if he can perform like today his chances of making the team as a fourth defensive tackle appear to be very good.
Loser: OT Cedrick Lang
While Dan Skipper again saw most of the reps at left tackle with starter Isaiah Wynn still limited, Cedrick Lang also was given some reps to prove his value at the position. The first-year Patriot made nothing of the opportunity, however, and struggled both during one-on-ones and when being lining up with the second offensive line unit during team drills. At one point, the 27-year-old even had to run a penalty lap for an apparent infraction. All in all, he did not show much promise to make the team as a potential third tackle.