The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday to hold their third and final practice of mandatory minicamp. The session, which took place in ideal conditions, was the sixth all offseason that saw select members of the media observing it from a safe distance.
What they saw was an incumbent starting quarterback bouncing back after back-to-back rocky sessions: Cam Newton, per Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, “had his best practice of the week and best we’ve seen this spring. He was the best QB on the field today. Newton was accurate and consistent. Good way to end minicamp for the veteran.”
Newton again took top-level reps, as was noted by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, and was followed by first-round rookie Mac Jones and third-year man Jarrett Stidham. Veteran Brian Hoyer did not see a lot of action for the second straight day.
In total, as charted by Mark Daniels, the three passers fared as follows:
11v11s— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) June 16, 2021
Jones: 10/18, INT
Stidham: 9/12, INT
Jones, who saw 20 combined team snaps compared to Newton’s 21, had a rough end to practice after a promising start. According to Zack Cox of NESN, he “completed just three of his last 10 passes and threw a bad interception to Adrian Colbert on his final pass. You could hear his frustration after that one. Also had a few overthrows during that stretch.”
That said, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe offered some context: “Two late incompletions were designed shots in the two-minute drill. Another incompletion was just to put a pass in the air after a sack. The other two incompletions were just a bit too far for open WRs down the field. Three real misses on nine incompletions.”
As for Stidham, he saw some increased opportunities late during the session. Zack Cox noted that he “got an extended look at the end of practice” and “generally looked sharp (8-for-10), but threw an interception to Justin Bethel in two-minute.”
As for the rest of the roster, five players remained absent (via Mark Daniels) — the same group that also was out on Monday and Tuesday:
LB Rashod Berry, DT Byron Cowart, CB Stephon Gilmore, LB Terez Hall, LB Chase Winovich
Furthermore, five players were present but not participating:
LB Anfernee Jennings, TE Dalton Keene, LB Cameron McGrone, WR Devin Smith, TE Jonnu Smith
On top of that, Nelson Agholor was not able to participate fully.
Meanwhile, guard Shaq Mason returned to the action after sitting out a majority of drills on Tuesday. Also present was wide receiver N’Keal Harry, who suffered an apparent calf injury the other day and reportedly moved well:
Cam Newton to N’Keal Harry early in practice.— Andrew Callahan (@_AndrewCallahan) June 16, 2021
Harry moved well today after limping late yesterday with an apparent calf injury. pic.twitter.com/xKpbdCcevS
On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots were quite active yet again. While seemingly not as dominant as on Tuesday, the group was still able to get its hands onto quite a few balls. Adrian Colbert and Justin Bethel, as mentioned above, registered interceptions, while two other defensive backs broke up passes: per Mark Daniels, J.C. Jackson deflected a Cam Newton threw intended for Gunner Olszewski, while Kyle Dugger got his hand on one thrown towards Devin Asiasi.
While first-year players will continue to work out over the coming days as part of New England’s rookie developmental program, the majority of the team is now off to its summer vacation. The Patriots are expected to kick off their training camp in late July.