After working in shells on Wednesday, the New England Patriots put on their full pads again for Thursday’s training camp. The two-hour session took place in perfect conditions on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, and saw increased physicality again — as well as quarterback Cam Newton having arguably his best practice of the week.
Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s recap what happened at today’s practice.
Absent: DT Beau Allen, LB Tashawn Bower, OT Yodny Cajuste, CB Stephon Gilmore, WR N’Keal Harry, LB Brandon King (Reserve/PUP) RB Sony Michel (Active/PUP), RB Lamar Miller (Active/PUP), S Adrian Phillips, LB Derek Rivers
Returning: LB Anfernee Jennings, WR Jeff Thomas
Present but limited: WR Jeff Thomas, LB Anfernee Jennings, WR Will Hastings
- The Patriots’ absentee list added some big names on Thursday: cornerback Stephon Gilmore, safety Adrian Phillips and offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste were not present for today’s session after being full participants on Wednesday. None of the three has suffered an obvious injury. In total, 10 players were absent — including three on the physically unable to perform list (PUP).
- After being a no-show the first three days this week, two rookies returned to the field: linebacker Anfernee Jennings and wide receiver Jeff Thomas. Jennings, by the way, wore a new jersey number after switching from No. 52 that he shared with fellow linebacker Brandon Copeland to No. 74.
- David Andrews was unable to complete Wednesday’s session, but was back in action as a full participant today.
- While Thomas was back on the practice field today, he was unable to participate fully during the session and left the field about an hour in. Fellow rookie wide receiver Will Hastings, who was present but limited for the first three sessions of the week, was also back on the field but unable to finish practice.
- Julian Edelman appeared to tweak his right knee or leg during a 4-on-4 drill and was unable to continue after one 1-on-1 drill. He was later spotted riding the bike. With N’Keal Harry already out, and both Jeff Thomas and Will Hastings limited as well, the Patriots’ wide receiver group is starting to get a bit thin.
Quarterback performance: Jarrett Stidham 2 of 6 with 2 INTs (11-on-11s); Cam Newton 7 of 13 (11-on-11s), 3 of 4 (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 7 of 12 (11-on-11s), 0 of 4 with 1 INT (7-on-7s)
- Jarrett Stidham had a rough 11-on-11 period, throwing a pair of interceptions and also missing easy passes to James White and Devin Asiasi. The first of his picks came when the second-year man was unable to get the football to Devin Ross: Myles Bryant was able to take advantage of an underthrown ball to pick it off. The second interception, meanwhile, was caught by Justin Bethel on another off-target throw. Stidham had some good moments early on, but his turnovers are staring to add up while his accuracy was not up to par.
- Cam Newton, on the other hand, appeared to be more comfortable in his third full-pads practice as a Patriot. Not only did he end the session as the lone quarterback without an interception in team drills, he also appeared to be more decisive with his decision making — something that has been a problem for him earlier this week. He did not necessarily stand out, but he was the top quarterback on the field today.
- Quarterback reps were split more unequally today as compared to the last three sessions: Newton and Brian Hoyer saw more action and attempted 17 and 16 passes in team drills, respectively, while Stidham had a comparatively quiet morning and threw just six total passes versus a live defense. Quarterbacks were again inconsistent, with Newton probably the least uneven of the pack.
- Coming off arguably his best practice since joining the Patriots, Damiere Byrd continued to build momentum in the race for the team’s wide receiver spots on Thursday. During one-on-ones, for example, he was able to register wins against both J.C. Jackson and Jason McCourty.
- As noted above, Myles Bryant was on the receiving end of Jarrett Stidham’s first interception. The undrafted rookie had a total of two picks during team work, though: the first came versus Brian Hoyer during 7-on-7s — Hoyer’s first pick in team drills this week — and just a few plays after the undrafted rookie also registered a pass-breakup.
- The defense was able to keep the offense out of the end zone on three of four goal line drills to end practice. Linebackers Terez Hall and Cassh Maluia made noteworthy plays during the period: Hall stuffed rookie running back J.J. Taylor on two separate plays, while Maluia tackled fullback Jakob Johnson short of the goal line on a passing attempt.
- Pass rushers had an active day with the group running a total of 46 1-on-1 drills. Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler were able to register wins versus the Patriots’ starting guards Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney, respectively.
- For the fourth day in a row, rookie kicker Justin Rohrwasser was the first player on the field.