The New England Patriots were back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday for their second training camp practice. While they are still not permitted to practice in full pads — head coach Bill Belichick said before the session that next Tuesday is the first possible day for them to do that — the session still was an eventful one.
With that said, let’s take a look at those players who stood out for better or (slightly) worse.
Winner: QB Cam Newton
The Patriots’ incumbent starting quarterback started may not have started Thursday’s session particularly impressively, but he sure finished in a strong fashion.
After going 0-for-3 in his first three plays during 11-on-11s, he wrapped up practice by completing 5 for his final 6 pass attempts. Newton threw three late touchdowns — two to tight end Hunter Henry and an impressive throw to Brandon Bolden — to end on a high note. He may not have put any notable distance between himself and Mac Jones in the race for the starting quarterback position, but he had a good day nonetheless.
Loser: QB Mac Jones
Heading into Thursday’s practice we mentioned Jones’ day-to-day consistency as an area to watch after what was mostly a solid first day of camp for the rookie. However, the youngster appear to tail off late during the day: after connecting on all three of his throws during 7-on-7 work, he went just 4-for-11 during the final 11-on-11 stretch of the session.
Jones did have some impressive moments, including arguably the play of the day on a touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers. He also regularly showed the traits that made him a first-round draft pick, but he still experienced some rookie growing pains on Thursday.
Winners: LB Josh Uche & LB Harvey Langi
The Patriots are not allowed to have full-contact work just yet, but two linebackers were still able to stand out. While Josh Uche was flying around the field and making plays both in the backfield and in coverage (even though he gave up the aforementioned touchdown to Brandon Bolden), Harvey Langi registered a would-be sack against Mac Jones and on the very next play broke up a pass intended for Jonnu Smith.
Winners: TE Hunter Henry
Jonnu Smith spoke about bringing the “Boston TE Party” back to New England on Wednesday, and the team’s new tight ends continue to leave a positive impression. Smith was a bit more quiet on the second practice of camp, but Hunter Henry impressed yet again while appearing to build some early chemistry with Cam Newton in particular.
He finished the session with a pair of touchdowns, as noted above, including one where he made a tough reception over safety Kyle Dugger.
Loser: The mid-practice concentration
Midway through the session, several Patriots players were sent on penalty laps. Gunner Olszewski had to run one after muffing a punt; Deatrich Wise Jr. and Davon Godchaux jumped offside to earn a round-trip ticket; guard Michael Onwenu, running back Tyler Gaffney and cornerback J.C. Jackson also were penalized for infractions at one point.
Penalty laps will not necessarily hurt a player’s chances of making the team or earning a starting role, but they are still worth watching. If a player has too many infractions, the coaching staff will address it one way or the other.