For the second day in a row, the New England Patriots put on their full pads today to hit the practice fields. While the one-hour-fifty session featured a lot of situational work and was lighter when compared to Monday’s, it still featured some noteworthy moments and developments — and one heated battle between a wide receiver and cornerback.
Before getting ahead of ourselves, however, let’s recap what happened at today’s practice.
Absent: DT Beau Allen, OT Yodny Cajuste, WR Julian Edelman, WR Will Hastings, LB Brandon King (Reserve/PUP), RB Sony Michel (Active/PUP), RB Lamar Miller (Active/PUP), S Adrian Phillips, WR Devin Ross, WR Jeff Thomas
Returned: TE Jake Burt, CB Stephon Gilmore
Present but limited: S Kyle Dugger, LB Terez Hall, WR Jakobi Meyers, QB Jarrett Stidham
- The Patriots had some more additions to their list of absentees. Three new wide receivers were not spotted — Julian Edelman as the biggest name among them, as well as Will Hastings and Devin Ross — as was Adrian Phillips. The other six players who were out remain unchanged.
- After four practices, Stephon Gilmore’s excused absence has come to an end. He was one of two players — the other being rookie tight end Jake Burt — to return.
- Linebackers Terez Hall and Cassh Maluia were present at practice after both went down with injuries on Monday, even though Hall was severely limited.
- About 90 minutes into the session, Devin Asiasi went down with what appeared to be an ankle or foot injury. Trainers and a member of the Patriots’ medical staff also checked out the rookie tight end on the sidelines.
Quarterback performance: Jarrett Stidham 6 of 6 (11-on-11s), 1 of 2 (7-on-7s); Cam Newton 14 of 20 (11-on-11s), 3 of 4 (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 7 of 13 (11-on-11s), 2 of 2 (7-on-7s)
- The play of the day was Cam Newton connecting with J.J. Taylor on deep passing attempt. The undrafted rookie running back beat linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley on a vertical route down the sideline, and the former league MVP put the ball right into the bread basket for a significant gain of 30-plus yards. Before that, Newton had an impressive connection with Gunner Olszewski that saw the second-year wideout beat Jonathan Jones for the catch.
- For the second day in a row, Jarrett Stidham saw an increased workload while coming back from a hip injury that forced him to sit out competitive drills over the weekend. He was perfect during 11-on-11s, but the team is still managing his reps and the situations in which the former fourth-round draft pick is allowed to throw. A late-camp surge to overtake Newton as the starting quarterback seems unlikely.
- N’Keal Harry had another solid day. Not only did he beat Joejuan Williams and Jason McCourty on back-shoulder receptions, he also showed his physicality by going at it with cornerback Michael Jackson in run blocking. The two squared off multiple times, with both doing plenty of talking during 11-on-11 work and later had to be separated after Harry pancaked Jackson in a 1-on-1 blocking drill. Both players were competing hard, with tempers flaring for a second straight day.
- Despite being sent on a penalty lap for jumping offsides too many times during 1-on-1s and 2-on-2s, the Patriots’ defensive front seven had some solid attempts during its pass rushing drills. Defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler as well as outside linebackers Chase Winovich and Derek Rivers were among the standouts.
- Anfernee Jennings saw an increased workload and seems to be adapting well to life in the Patriots’ multi-faceted defense. He looked comfortable dropping into coverage against tight ends and running backs, and also was solid when aligning around the edge. Just like fellow rookie linebacker Josh Uche, the team is giving Jennings plenty of looks while being incorporated into the defensive mix.
- Rookie Justin Rohrwasser and veteran free agency addition Nick Folk went head-to-head again near the end of practice, with Folk once again proving himself the more consistent of the two kickers. During team drills, Rohrwasser made two of three attempts while Folk made all three of his with the kicks coming from between 33 and around 50 yards out.
- Gunner Olszewski and Damiere Byrd were working as the punt returners during the session.
- Rohrwasser was again the first player on the field, for what it’s worth (nothing).
- At one point, the team began blasting some fake crowd noise that sounded like people on a beach near a runway applauding a plane taking off over their heads.