The New England Patriots were back on the practice fields today for their second-to-last public session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. The fans in attendance — bleachers were again filled on another perfect August day for football — saw a physical full-pads session and some memorable moments. They also were able to witness some standout performances, for better or for worse. Let’s take a look at the particularly noteworthy few.
Winner: OT Isaiah Wynn
Today was a big day for Isaiah Wynn: after being a limited participant during the team’s first eleven practices of the summer, the Patriots’ starting left tackle was almost full-go today. He took part in 1-on-1s and 2-on-2s and also was on the field for competitive 11-on-11 work with the first-team offense. Most importantly, he looked good whenever he was in the lineup. With four weeks to go until the start of the regular season, Wynn’s outlook appears to be encouraging as he fights his way back from a torn Achilles tendon that cost him his entire 2018 rookie season.
Winner: CB Joejuan Williams
The Patriots’ second-round rookie had a slow start to training camp but has strung together some solid performances as of late. Today might just have been his best practice of training camp: Williams, who did not allow a completion during his two 1-on-1 reps, recorded a pair of interceptions on the day — tied for the team-lead with Stephon Gilmore — and also had a pass breakup on a Tom Brady throw intended for Maurice Harris. He is showing some steady growth.
Loser: CB Duke Dawson Jr.
Speaking of Patriots second-round draft picks, Duke Dawson continues to struggle. The 56th overall selection of last year’s draft lost all four of his 1-on-1 reps and appears to lack any confidence whatsoever. While his physical skills cannot be denied, Dawson is unable to put it all together at the moment. The question is whether or not he can still turn things around — and if he will even keep getting chances to prove that he has value to the team.
Winner: P Jake Bailey
Jake Bailey took another step today towards taking the punter role from incumbent Ryan Allen. While both looked good during last Thursday’s preseason opener, the fifth-round rookie again outperformed Allen in practice. He had a better hang-time average and on top of it all was also used as the holder on field goal and extra point attempts for the first time all camp — a job usually held by whoever is the team’s punter. Since 2013, that’s Ryan Allen, but a change could be on the horizon.
Loser: QB/WR Danny Etling
Danny Etling’s transition from quarterback to wide receiver continues to go... well, not exactly swimmingly. He lost both of his 1-on-1 reps, and was the intended receiver on all of the three combined interceptions thrown by Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham. While Hoyer’s pick was more on the quarterback, Stidham’s were both on Etling: he was unable to fight through Joejuan Williams on the first, and bobbled the football on the second which allowed Stephon Gilmore to scoop it up for a takeaway. At this point, the best-case scenario for Etling again appears to be a spot on the practice squad.
Winner: TE Ryan Izzo
With Matt LaCosse a no-show today after suffering what appeared to be a lower leg/ankle injury against the Detroit Lions last week, second-year man Ryan Izzo saw increased reps as the top tight end option alongside Benjamin Watson. With the veteran suspended for the first four weeks of the regular season, and with LaCosse’s medical outlook still to be determined, Izzo appears to be on a solid track to earn a roster spot. His blocking would certainly justify it.