As the New England Patriots took the practice field for Day 3 of training camp Friday morning, one player stood out above the rest: Nelson Agholor.
The 28-year-old receiver was one of the many additions the Patriots made this offseason to bring some juice back to their passing game, signing the former first round selection to a two-year, $22 million contract. Through three practices, Agholor has been the best receiver on the field.
On Friday, Agholor was a consistent pain in the side for New England’s defense. Whether lined up against the first- or second-string defense, Agholor consistently found separation and provided a field stretcher the Patriots offense has not seen in years.
After watching a well-throw deep ball from Mac Jones fall off his hands — a painful reminder of his past problems with the Philadelphia Eagles — the six-year pro responded as one would hope. During the second 11-on-11 segment, Newton looked his way on another deep crosser. This time, Agholor soared over his defender to make an impressive snag for a score; the highlight of day three.
The long ball was the first one the two connected on this summer, as Newton — and Jones — continue to get comfortable with Agholor’s speed and explosiveness. He also stayed after practice to work with the veteran quarterback on that exact thing.
Agholor has proved to be a serious long ball threat in the NFL, especially after averaging 18.7 yards per reception last year with Las Vegas. But even as the team moved into red zone work, Agholor continued to shine. He made a number of “hands” catches including an impressive leaping grab on a high ball from Newton on the back line of the end zone, as well as adjusting to a ball thrown behind him from Jones.
Agholor’s quickness appears to be a serious game changer in the red zone, while his explosiveness will not only give the Patriots’ offense a legitimate field stretcher, but open up opportunities underneath for the newly signed tight ends and possession receivers like Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne. Getting open has not been issue for the former Raider and it should be no surprise that Newton and Jones had their best practices of training camp on Friday with Agholor consistently making plays.
The Patriots offense has not had a playmaker like Agholor in several years - perhaps since Brandin Cooks one year stint with the team in 2017. He will watch some passes bounce off his hands this season, but if Friday was a sign of things to come, Agholor will be a serious game-changing addition for the Patriots.