The New England Patriots’ first joint practice with the Tennessee Titans is in the books and as expected it was a physical affair — not just because of temperatures climbing into the high 80s. The two teams were competitive, with the Patriots looking like the better team top-to-bottom on both offense and defense. That being said, it was not a perfect day for the world champions as their receiver corps took another hit.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though, and instead look at the recap:
Returned: WR N’Keal Harry (foot)
Absent: LB Jamie Collins Sr. (?), TE Matt LaCosse (ankle), TE Stephen Anderson (?), WR Cameron Meredith (PUP), OT Yodny Cajuste (NFI)
Present but did not participate: WR Julian Edelman (NFI), WR Demaryius Thomas (PUP)
Limited: WR N’Keal Harry (foot), OT Isaiah Wynn (biceps), SS Patrick Chung (shoulder/arm)
- Patrick Chung was still in the red non-contact jersey, Lance Kendricks was able to shed his and participate without any restrictions.
- After not being spotted the last two days, N’Keal Harry was back on the practice fields today. He did, however, not actively participate in the session after warmups.
- Jamie Collins and Stephen Anderson are new additions to the list of absentees.
- Phillip Dorsett left practice with head athletic trainer Jim Whalen after landing hard on the ground following a catch down the sideline. He did return in street clothes.
- Maurice Harris was relegated to a spectator role at one point as well: he was on one knee with his shoes off — apparently nothing major but still a situation worth monitoring.
- Danny Shelton did not participate during 11-on-11s and instead ran sprints on another field.
- Elandon Roberts did not finish practice because of what looked like a foot injury.
- Dan Skipper left practice early due to heat-related issues.
Quarterback performance: Tom Brady 13/17 (11-on-11s), 5/7 (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 5/7 (11-on-11s), 2/4 (7-on-7s); Jarrett Stidham 5/9 (11-on-11s), 3/4 (7-on-7s)
Starting offensive line: LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Joe Thuney, OC David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon
- The Patriots did a lot of mixing-and-matching at the wide receiver position today. While N’Keal Harry sat the session out, depth players Dontrelle Inman, Damoun Patterson, Gunner Olszewski and Ryan Davis received plenty of opportunities with the first-team offense and quarterback Tom Brady — even before Phillip Dorsett left the session because of an injury.
- Despite using all available wide receivers on the depth chart and going against a talented defense, Brady was terrific today: he spread the football around well during team drills despite working with a depleted receiving corps, and completed a combined 18 of 24 passes during team drills. While New England worked primarily on the running and screen game, the quarterback looked sharp every time when he was asked to pass the football.
- While Isaiah Wynn sat out an early portion of 1-on-1 and 2-on-2 reps, he did participate during competitive 11-on-11 drills at a later point. The Patriots are still managing his workload — Dan Skipper subbed into Wynn’s spot at times — but overall they can feel good about his progress. If this development continues, the second-year man will be the starting left tackle on opening day.
- The offensive line had an interesting 1-on-1 period against the Titans’ talented pass rushers: the unit was outmatched early on but rebounded in style to win twelve of the final thirteen reps. All in all, it did not have a perfect day but certainly had some strong stretches of play.
- While Stephon Gilmore had a slow start during 1-on-1s, fellow cornerback J.C. Jackson was outstanding and registered both a pass breakup and an interception. The second-year man was not done either as he added another turnover during an 11-on-11 period that would have been a pick-six in a game setting. While not all was perfect for Jackson — he also gave up a deep reception later during team work — he had another very good session.
- Speaking of interceptions, edge defender Chase Winovich also registered one when a tipped pass — Deatrich Wise Jr. got his hand on it — landed in his arms. It was another good play for the rookie, who also was used in a new role today: the Patriots ran a 1-5 defensive look at one point with Winovich as the de facto nose tackle. New England is actively putting the third-round pick in different situations, and he is responding well so far.
- All in all, the Patriots’ defense had a good day against Tennessee today. Between turnovers and numerous would-be sacks, the unit played some solid foundational football against both the run — Derek Rivers set a nice edge during one run-first period — and the pass. While the Titans did have their moments, New England repeatedly showed its potential, depth and overall talent.
- The Patriots’ punt return group remained unchanged with Braxton Berrios, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski and Rex Burkhead running back kicks. It sure looks like one of the four will handle punt return duties not just this week against Tennessee but in the regular season as well.