Two of the New England Patriots’ three joint practices with the Detroit Lions are now over, and the second of the sessions saw the Patriots have a worse day compared to the first. While individual players did have their moments, the team as a whole was sloppy in all three phases of the game. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers from the session:
Winner: WR Braxton Berrios
After more downs than ups over the last few days, Braxton Berrios bounced back nicely today. The second-year receiver, who spent all of 2018 on injured reserve, looked quick all day long and spent considerable time working with the first-team offense again. All in all, he was targeted a combined five times by Tom Brady during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 team portions, catching three passes — two of which for touchdowns. Berrios also was hard to guard during 1-on-1s.
Winner: WR Phillip Dorsett
Also looking good today was Phillip Dorsett, who led the club in receptions during team work: he caught six passes, including a perfectly placed 35-yard touchdown from Brady during a two-minute drill late during the session. He also saw plenty of opportunities to work alongside Brady, and was part of the Patriots’ two-receiver sets together with rookie standout Jakobi Meyers. All in all, Dorsett and his quarterback certainly showed some solid chemistry today.
Loser: The punt protection team
Every time a kick gets blocked, the players up front probably need to get nervous — something they will be today. During the first series of punt drills, the Patriots had numerous protection breakdowns which allowed the Lions’ rushers to get through the line and knock punter Ryan Allen to the ground. The issues will get corrected, but this might include making changes to the unit up front (one that is still missing personal protector Nate Ebner).
Winner: DE Chase Winovich
Michigan product Chase Winovich put on a show for the fans in attendance, many of whom cheering for the third-round rookie: Winovich was very good for the second day in a row, and would have finished the day with a pair of sacks during team drills were he allowed to touch the opposing quarterbacks. Furthermore, he also had a decisive win during a 1-on-1 pass rushing drill against the Lions’ starting left tackle, Taylor Decker. The 24-year-old certainly appears to be trending in the right direction.
Loser: CB Duke Dawson Jr.
As things currently stand, Duke Dawson is little more than the Patriots’ sixth cornerback — but even that role does not appear to be safe when judged by his recent performances. Today, he allowed multiple receptions during individual drills and team workouts and at one point was even moved from slot cornerback to safety. New England’s defensive success does not depend on the former second-round draft pick, but his development during camp certainly has been disappointing so far.
Loser: WR N’Keal Harry
N’Keal Harry’s performance today was very encouraging. While he did not connect with Brady on his lone target during team work, he did make arguably the two best catches of the day. However, his session effectively ended when he tweaked what appeared to be his right hamstring. Yes, he returned a short time after working with head athletic trainer Jim Whalen, but he did not run a route and was back on the sidelines after only one play. The situation will be one worth monitoring, and Harry and the Patriots have to hope that the injury does not cost him any practice time: he needs the reps, especially with Brady.
Winner: QB Jarrett Stidham
While Jarrett Stidham still makes his fair share of rookie mistakes and mostly goes against second and third string defenders, he generally performs well when called upon — just like he did today. The fourth-round rookie attempted only one incomplete pass during full-speed 11-on-11 work, but was outstanding during 7-on-7s when he connected with his receivers on all twelve of his passes. Stidham was saved by a terrific N’Keal Harry grab at one point, but generally looked comfortable out there.
Loser: RB Sony Michel
Sony Michel is in the middle of a very good training camp, but that does not mean he’s not also making mistakes. Today, he had two of them: not only did he get the football knocked out at one point early in the session, he also mishandled and fumbled a toss from Stidham during an 11-on-11 play. New England does not have to worry about Michel, but fumbles are nevertheless the easiest ticket to punch to get into Bill Belichick’s dog house.