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Patriots 2020 training camp recap: Cam Newton starts pulling away in the quarterback race

Related: Patriots training camp recap: New England holds light practice as absentee list continues to grow

New England Patriots Training Camp Photo by Steven Senne-Pool/Getty Images

After taking the day off on Saturday, the New England Patriots were back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium today for their 10th full-team training camp practice. The session itself was lighter in nature, with players wearing shells and shorts, but the tempo was still notable — as were the developments in the competition for the Patriots’ starting quarterback role.

Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s recap what happened at today’s practice.

Attendance

Absent: DT Beau Allen, LB Tashawn Bower, TE Jake Burt, CB Stephon Gilmore, CB Michael Jackson Sr, LB Brandon King (Reserve/PUP), RB Sony Michel (Active/PUP), RB Lamar Miller (Active/PUP), RB J.J. Taylor, WR Jeff Thomas, RB James White

Returned: OT Yodny Cajuste, WR N’Keal Harry, S Adrian Phillips, LB Derek Rivers, CB D’Angelo Ross

Present but limited: S Kyle Dugger, S Adrian Phillips, QB Jarrett Stidham

  • Five players were back on the practice fields after missing Friday’s practice, including former first-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry.
  • The list of absentees did not get any shorter, however: five new players — running backs James White and J.J. Taylor, wide receiver Jeff Thomas, tight end Jake Burt, cornerback Michael Jackson — were added to the list of players not present.
  • Jarrett Stidham, who is reportedly dealing with a hip injury, was on the practice fields but just like on Friday sat out competitive drills.

Injuries

  • In his first practice back after a three-session absence, N’Keal Harry had some trouble making it to the end: he appeared winded at one point late during the day, with a trainer talking to him.

Offense

Quarterback performance: Jarrett Stidham N/A; Cam Newton 20 of 27 (11-on-11s), 8 of 12 (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 10 of 12 with 1 INT (11-on-11s), 3 of 6 (7-on-7s)

  • With Jarrett Stidham once again limited, Cam Newton is seemingly pulling away in the race for the Patriots’ starting quarterback job. The former league MVP, who was signed as a free agent in July, saw the majority of snaps and had another solid practice after already building momentum late last week. At this point in time, the QB1 role is very much Newton’s to lose.
  • The veteran quarterback also had a noticeably active practice when it comes to hooking up with New England’s most experienced pass catcher: Julian Edelman led the team in catches and targets from Newton. The two also spent some time going over the details of specific plays. If Newton indeed wins the starting job, his chemistry with Edelman will be crucial.
  • Recently signed tight end Paul Quessenberry, who has not played in a competitive football game since his final season at the Naval Academy in 2014, was present for his first ever training camp practice at the pro level. What stood out about the ex-Marine was that he spent some time with fullback Jakob Johnson while the tight end group was working out. Quessenberry, a former defensive end, projects to be a blocker — no matter the ultimate position he is going to play.

Defense

  • During 11-on-11 work, the lone interception of the day was caught by Justin Bethel. The special teams ace, who is seeing some regular practice reps at cornerback as well, has had a solid practice. He also blanketed N’Keal Harry during one drill and had a pass breakup. J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Myles Bryant and Terez Hall also registered pass breakups.
  • Cassh Maluia continues to make some solid plays. At one point, the sixth-round linebacker forced a fumble versus fellow rookie Devin Asiasi during 7-on-7s. Maluia, who is competing for an off-the-ball linebacker role, has made some solid plays against both the pass and the run so far in training camp. Asiasi, meanwhile, is a roster lock but that did not stop the coaching staff from sending him on a penalty lap for his ball security miscue.
  • Speaking of rookie linebackers. Josh Uche and Anfernee Jennings lined up together at one point, and were asked to call defensive signals. With Dont’a Hightower having opted out of the 2020 season, the job of on-field signal caller is open. Ja’Whaun Bentley is the frontrunner to take it based on seniority, but Uche and Jennings are apparently also being groomed to fill in if necessary.

Special teams

  • For the first time since early last week, Justin Rohrwasser attempted some kicks. From a statistical perspective, his performance was shaky at best: he had several misses no matter the range and appears to repeatedly be hooking kicks to his left. During team work, he made two of four field goal attempts between 38 and 46 yards out — albeit kicking against narrower practice goal posts. The rookie kicker was seen riding a stationary bike on Friday, so his miscues might be due to some sort of undisclosed injury.