Another day, another full-pads practice for the New England Patriots. On Tuesday, the team took the fields behind Gillette Stadium for its second straight session in full pads and fifth overall in its game-day look. You can recap the session here and also find out who its standout players were, but for now is the time to clean out the notebook from the almost two-hour workout.
Replacing the presumptive TE1
The Patriots’ tight end group saw some considerable turnover the last two offseasons, but the additions of Day Two draft picks Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene should bring some much-needed stability to the position. While Keene has had some good practices while transitioning from a run-based offense at Virginia Tech to the NFL, Asiasi has looked like a realistic TE1 all training camp long: his size in combination with his route running and physical blocking have been a promising sight.
When he went down during Tuesday’s practice, the Patriots therefore had quite a sizable hole to fill despite Asiasi being just a rookie. So, what did they do? They turned to fellow offseason additions Jake Burt and Paul Butler, who both caught one pass each from quarterbacks Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer during team drills. The duo is fighting for a backup spot behind Asiasi and Keene versus fellow tight ends Ryan Izzo and Paul Quessenberry, and had some solid moments yesterday.
As for Asiasi, he was looked at on the sidelines following what appeared to be an ankle or foot injury and remained out for the remainder of practice. That said, the issue did not appear to be an overly serious one.
Stephon Gilmore looks good in his return
The NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year missed the previous four practices as an excused absentee, but was back on the field for Tuesday’s session. He looked as if he had never left: Gilmore did surrender a pair of short throws during team drills, but he still was his normal self due to his fluid movements and ability to read his keys in order to recognize and shut down opposing routes. He’s the undisputed top cornerback on the team, and yesterday’s practice was another reminder of that.
The Harry-Jackson rivalry is getting intense
One of the most intense moments of yesterday’s practice came when wide receiver N’Keal Harry and cornerback Michael Jackson went at each other. The two already had a physical one-on-one battle the previous day, and added to their little rivalry on Tuesday: the two were matched up twice during a run-blocking drill, with the second ending with Harry driving Jackson to the ground well after the play was over. Jackson responded by confronting the former first-round draft pick before the situation deescalated.
While pushing the boundaries on this particular drill, the physical edge both men are playing with was on display on Tuesday.
Chase Winovich loves himself some milk
One of the lighthearted moments of training camp came during a media conference call following the session, when second-year linebacker Chase Winovich started speaking in great detail about his love for milk.
“I feel like there’s a subtle war against milk,” said Winovich. “I obviously enjoy milk. I think dairy farmers do excellent work around this country. We need to appreciate them and the beautiful cows that are also milked and produce this delicious milk.”
Winovich, who is projected to take on a bigger role in the Patriots’ defense this year following a series of offseason departures in the front-seven, also talked about his experience at a dairy farm earlier this offseason.
“I have a YouTube channel called Wino On A Quest and we actually went to Vermont, it’s called Liberty Hill Farms. There’s an Airbnb. Not sure how it operates with Covid and stuff, but I got the opportunity to meet all the cows and actually milk some. It’s a super-dramatic story,” he said. “It was an awesome time. I really just fell in love with the process. Already had a love for milk. I’ve been tweeting about milk for years. I think I tweeted ‘Nothing like the feeling of milk running through your mustache’ a couple years ago...”
Winovich also noted that a cousin of his would be a dairy farmer near Pittsburgh before speaking about milk and the Patriots.
“A lot of guys love football, and drinking milk.”