The New England Patriots’ first joint training camp practice with the Detroit Lions is in the books and it was a good one for the reigning world champions: the offense was far less sloppy than it was last week, while the defense continued to make plays and generally be stout no matter the situation. Even though the Patriots obviously still have a long way to go, they can feel good about Monday’s session as a whole.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some winners and losers:
Winner: QB Tom Brady
New England’s offense looked good for most of today’s session, and it all started with Tom Brady. The greatest quarterback of all time, who turned 42 over the weekend, was on point for most of the session and also spread the football around well: he targeted ten different pass catchers during team portions and completed 19 of 27 pass attempts during 7-on7s and 11-on-11s. Brady’s favorite target — undrafted rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers — finished the day with four catches, as the duo is continuing to successfully build its chemistry.
Winner: DE Shilique Calhoun & DE Chase Winovich
A pair of young edge defenders also had a successful day against Detroit. Shilique Calhoun saw considerable action with the first-team defense and looked good during 1-on-1 drills; he certainly is stating his case to earn the final roster spot at the position. Third-round rookie Chase Winovich does not have to worry about making the team — he is a lock due to his draft status — but he is making plays nevertheless: while not quite as active as Calhoun, Winovich looked solid and would have taken down the opposing quarterback for two sacks during two-minute work had he been allowed to finish the plays.
Losers: WR Dontrelle Inman & WR Ryan Davis
The recent emergence of Jakobi Meyers is putting pressure on the other depth wide receivers to keep up if they want to make the team. So far it looks as if two of them are unable to do that: neither Dontrelle Inman nor Ryan Davis saw much action today. While offseason acquisition Inman’s lone target from Brady during team periods fell incomplete, undrafted rookie Davis was used sparingly in 11-on-11s and also did not return any kicks. Their days in New England appear to be limited.
Winner: The offensive line
While not all was perfect for the unit up front — left tackle Isaiah Wynn did not participate during team drills; he was again replaced by Dan Skipper — it did have a pretty good day overall, especially in the ground game. At times, New England’s offensive line was able to open enormous holes for the team’s running backs to exploit. While the Lions were missing some key defensive linemen, including ex-Patriot Trey Flowers, it is certainly encouraging to see Dante Scarnecchia’s unit perform well in this controlled environment.
Winner: LB Jamie Collins Sr.
When New England reacquired Jamie Collins in free agency, few knew what to expect. Would the 29-year-old look like the playmaker he was early during his first tenure with the Patriots, or like the high-priced disappointment he was with the Cleveland Browns? Early on in training camp, he overwhelmingly looks like the former. Today, for example, Collins forced yet another fumble when he knocked the football loose during a 7-on-7 drill. He is starting to look like a lock to make the roster — and a potential big-play asset this season.
Winner: DT Byron Cowart
Since returning from a quad injury that cost him three practices early during training camp, Byron Cowart has stringed together some solid performances. Today, he took another step forward: the fifth-round rookie saw some action with the first-string defense and handled himself well against strong competition. While it is dangerous to read too much into usage at this point in the process, Cowart at least appears to have bounced back nicely from his previous injury.