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Patriots 2020 training camp recap: Rookie Kyle Dugger leads strong defensive performance

Related: Patriots training camp recap: Quarterback race remains tight despite Jarrett Stidham’s rough stretch

NFL Combine - Day 6 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

After putting on full pads for the last two days, the New England Patriots hit the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium in shells today. Naturally, the physicality and speed of the session was different than it was on Monday and Tuesday. That being said, the two-hour session that had a heavy focus on the passing game was still an eventful one.

Here is what happened at today’s practice.

Attendance

Absent: DT Beau Allen, LB Tashawn Bower, WR N’Keal Harry, LB Brandon King (Reserve/PUP) RB Sony Michel (Active/PUP), RB Lamar Miller (Active/PUP), LB Derek Rivers, WR Jeff Thomas, LB Anfernee Jennings

Present but limited: C David Andrews, WR Will Hastings

  • N’Keal Harry and Derek Rivers are new additions to the list of no-shows. Both finished Tuesday’s practice without any visible injuries, with Harry later also participating in a media conference call.
  • After leaving yesterday’s practice following the warm-up period for undisclosed reasons, Julian Edelman was back on the field on Wednesday in full capacity.
  • While Will Hastings remains limited, starting center David Andrews joined him today for undisclosed reasons. With the veteran out, Joe Thuney and Hjalte Froholdt displayed their versatility along the interior offensive line.

Injuries

  • There were no new injuries.

Offense

Quarterback performance: Jarrett Stidham 9 of 13 with 1 INT (11-on-11s), 3 of 6 (7-on-7s); Cam Newton 4 of 9 (11-on-11s), 4 of 7 with 2 INTs (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 8 of 14 (11-on-11s), 4 of 6 (7-on-7s)

  • Despite his interception, Jarrett Stidham had a mostly solid bounce-back day from his three-picks-within-a-five-play-span performance on Tuesday. His first highlight came during 7-on-7 work, when he hooked up with Dalton Keene on a post route: he led the rookie tight end perfectly for what would have been a big gain in a live game situation. Later, Stidham connected with Damiere Byrd on a go-route for a long score versus Jason McCourty.
  • With N’Keal Harry out, Byrd saw an increased workload as the team’s primary perimeter receiver. The free agency acquisition did not only hook up with Stidham for a 30-yard-plus touchdown, but later also caught a deep pass from Newton on an out-route.
  • Undrafted rookie running back J.J. Taylor also caught a touchdown from Stidham. Despite standing at 5-foot-6, the youngster was able to beat linebacker Terez Hall to make the diving reception in the end zone. Taylor had his fair share of growing pains so far in camp, but displayed an impressive catch radius on this particular play.
  • The first player to beat the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year since pads were put on on Monday is Gunner Olszewski: the second-year wide receiver got open on a comeback route versus Stephon Gilmore to make the reception on a pass from Cam Newton.
  • New England’s offense as a whole had a challenging day. During one 11-on-11 period no quarterback was able to complete more than half of his pass attempts, with all three passers having an up-and-down performance and on multiple plays missing open guys. Add three total interceptions and you can see that the defense got the better of Josh McDaniels’ unit.

Defense

  • Rookie linebacker Cassh Maluia made the first big defensive play of the day when he intercepted Cam Newton during a 7-on-7 drill. Maluia was dropping back into his zone in the middle of the field and the veteran quarterback simply did not see him while trying to connect with rookie Isaiah Zuber. A few plays before that, Stephon Gilmore also could have picked off Newton but was unable to hold onto the would-be interception.
  • Kyle Dugger also registered an interception off of Cam Newton — his second in as many days. The second-round draft pick, who is in the middle of an impressive early training camp, picked off the former league MVP during a 7-on-7 drill in the red zone while covering tight end Ryan Izzo. He followed his interception up by adding pass breakups versus Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer.
  • Not all was perfect for the 37th overall selection in this year’s draft, though: Dugger also surrendered a pair of passes against undrafted rookie tight end Jake Burt in a 4-on-4 drill.
  • Stidham’s interception, meanwhile, came during 11-on-11s. The quarterback tried to hook up with wide receiver Damiere Byrd on a deep post route, but third-year cornerback J.C. Jackson was able to get in front of the intended target for the pick — one that could have been returned for a touchdown in a game situation.
  • A total of seven players registered either interceptions or pass breakups: Dugger, Maluia and Jackson were joined by the likes of Stephon Gilmore, Terrence Brooks, Myles Bryant, Justin Bethel.

Miscellaneous

  • Running backs coach Ivan Fears was first on the field this morning. From the players’ perspective, Justin Rohrwasser was first for the third day in a row.
  • New England ended the session by doing conditioning work on the hill next to the practice fields.