Day one of the joint practices between the New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans is in the books, and it was a successful one from the world champions’ perspective: the team looked better from top-to-bottom and had success no matter if using the starter-level players or the backups. While the day was far from perfect — more on that in a second — today’s practice was generally a pretty good start into the week.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the risers and fallers from Wednesday’s session.
Winner: QB Tom Brady
Despite going up against a talented Titans defense and having the skill position group around him change on a frequent basis, Tom Brady looked very good today and produced one of his sharpest practices of the summer. The greatest quarterback in NFL history spread the football around well — he targeted twelve players during team drills — and completed 18 of his 24 combined pass attempts during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. Furthermore, he was fired up throughout the session and set the tone for the entire team.
Winner: CB J.C. Jackson
J.C. Jackson entered training camp in a competition for the number two cornerback spot behind Stephon Gilmore. While veteran Jason McCourty currently still appears to hold onto it, Jackson is positioning himself well to potentially take over further down the line. Today’s practice was just the latest in a series of strong outings, and possibly his best of camp: while he did give up a long completion to Taywan Taylor during 11-on-11s, he also registered an interception that would have been returned for a touchdown in a game. On top of it all, the second-year man also had a pick and a pass breakup during 1-on-1 drills.
Loser: The pass catching depth
Six members of the Patriots’ pass catching group — including roster locks Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry — did not practice today, and the list of absentees only grew longer during practice. First, Phillip Dorsett left the session after landing hard on the ground on a pass reception. He did return to the sideline but no longer participate. Later, Maurice Harris exited the field and watched team drills on one knee with his shoes off. Both wide receivers will likely be fine, but today’s practice still put significant stress on an already depleted receiving corps.
Loser: The depth pass catchers
With Dorsett and Harris not finishing the session, the Patriots’ backup wide receivers saw more action with the first-team offense as is usually the case. However, they mostly failed to take advantage of their opportunities. While Dontrelle Inman caught the one pass Brady threw his way during team drills, Damoun Patterson, Ryan Davis and tight end Lance Kendricks were unable to reel in their respective targets. New England may have a lot of bodies at the skill positions, but the quality drop-off between some of them is notable.
Winner: OT Isaiah Wynn
After seeing his workload increase drastically during Monday’s practice, Isaiah Wynn had a more quiet day today. That being said, he still looked very good whenever he entered the field — he shared snaps at left tackle with Dan Skipper — and continued to display some excellent technique in combination with good strength and a physical approach. The Patriots won’t rush him into the full-time starting lineup, but the former first-round draft pick sure looks like he is ready for the challenge.
Winner: OT Dan Skipper
Two weeks ago, it looked like Dan Skipper didn’t have much of a future as the Patriots’ backup left tackle and potential swing option. He has come a long way since then, however, and appears to be developing well under the tutelage of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia: Skipper, who has tremendous size at 6-foot-9, 325 pounds, is starting to clean up his technique and become more consistent. The preseason opener against the Detroit Lions was a step in the right direction; today he took another one.