While the New England Patriots’ 2020 training camp was already kicked almost three weeks ago, the focus early on was exclusively on learning as well as working on strength and conditioning. Today, however, the team finally held its first full-contact practice of the summer: players and coaches held a 90-minute session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium, all while trying to maintain social distancing guidelines and other Coronavirus-based safety measures.
The session itself took place in overcast and somewhat cool conditions, with the team wearing helmets and pads. Fans were not allowed in for safety reasons, but reporters were present. The team did also live-stream a portion of the session on its website.
With that all being said, here is what happened at today’s practice.
Absent: DT Beau Allen, LB Brandon King (Reserve/PUP) RB Sony Michel (Active/PUP), RB Lamar Miller (Active/PUP), WR Jeff Thomas, LB Anfernee Jennings
- Beau Allen was also not spotted during the lone practice last week that was somewhat open to the media (a portion of it was live-streamed as well), but there is no telling whether his absence is injury-related or not. Meanwhile, rookies Jeff Thomas and Anfernee Jennings joined him on the list of absentees.
- Sony Michel and Lamar Miller remain on the Active/PUP, meaning that they can be reactivated at any time, while Brandon King will obviously miss the first six weeks of the regular season after being moved to Active/PUP earlier this month.
- Undrafted rookie wide receiver Will Hastings was limited.
Quarterback performance: Jarrett Stidham 4 of 4 (11-on-11s), 3 of 3 (7-on-7s); Cam Newton 1 of 1 (11-on-11s), 3 of 4 (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 1 of 4 (11-o-11s), 2 of 3 (7-on-7s)
- There is no clear frontrunner in the quarterback competition. Reps were equally distributed between Jarrett Stidham, Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer, and all three of them had their moments. Second-year man Stidham may have been the sharpest overall — he missed only one pass all day during competitive work, a throw intended for N’Keal Harry — but the Patriots’ focus was more on running the football on Monday than creating matchups in the passing game.
- New England’s offense used plenty of its 11-on-11 work by focusing on power running behind fullback Jakob Johnson. Second-year man Damien Harris received plenty of carries and generally looked good, even though it still looks as if he might be behind Rex Burkhead on a depth chart that is currently missing fellow early-down running back options Sony Michel and Lamar Miller.
- A later 11-on-11 drill saw Brian Hoyer connect with wideout Devin Ross for a 50-plus-yard score against Joejuan Williams — arguably the biggest play of the day. Ross, who is making some noise early on in his first training camp as a Patriot, later also caught another touchdown during an up-tempo drill.
- Two youngsters had to run penalty laps. Second-year wideout Jakobi Meyers had to run one after fumbling the football in a drill (rookie Kyle Dugger forced the fumble), with undrafted rookie J.J. Taylor doing the same after muffing a punt. Taylor also dropped a pass at one point but did make an impressive diving catch later during the session.
- Versatile offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor continued to see time at right tackle.
- Second-round rookie linebacker Josh Uche was moved around the formation quite a bit during the first full-pads practice of his pro career. With New England’s linebacker group seeing some notable departures this offseason, the Michigan product is in a position to earn some serious playing time this fall.
- While the position groups were working out early during the session, Matthew Slater spent time by himself working on his get-off as a gunner. Slater is, of course, not just the Patriots’ most experienced player but also among the best kick coverage players in all of football despite turning 35 next month.
- The punt returners included incumbent Gunner Olszewski as well as undrafted rookies J.J. Taylor and Isaiah Zuber.
- Rookie kicker Justin Rohrwasser displayed his strong leg but missed two of his five field goal attempts to close out the session.
- Rohrwasser was the first player on the field before the session. Team owner Robert Kraft also was present, watching the first hour from the sidelines.