It was another beautiful day at Gillette Stadium as thousands of fans packed the bleachers to see the New England Patriots wrap up their first week of training camp. Despite the brewing quarterback battle between Cam Newton and Mac Jones, Bill Belichick reiterated before the session began that “Cam is our starting quarterback.” However, he also said that it “a hard decision” would be ahead.
As for the fourth practice of camp, the Patriots continued to work on their red zone offense and defense in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 settings. Belichick had noted on Saturday morning that his team would move into other situations next week.
Absentees: CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP), DT Bryon Cowart (PUP), QB Jarrett Stidham (PUP), LB Chase Winovich (PUP), TE Dalton Keene (PUP), TE Devin Asiasi (Covid-19), LB Cameron McGrone (NFI), S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI), OL Ted Karras (injured).
Returnees: LB Brandon King (PUP), LB Anfernee Jennings
There were no injuries to report in today’s practice.
Quarterbacks: It was a bit of a light workout for the quarterbacks on Saturday after a lot of throwing on Friday. The first units mainly faced the seconds and vice versa, and the team continued to work inside the low red zone for their final practice of the week. The defense certainly won today as both Cam Newton — 2-for-7 — and Mac Jones — 0-for-4 — had rough patches during 11-on-11s.
However, it was what happened off the field that caught my eye.
Jones was visibly frustrated after one particularly rough series, and Bill Belichick came over to coach him up for a solid minute and a half. Then, Brian Hoyer came over to Jones, who was on a knee, and was using his hands to mimic what the rookie could have done better. He then went in and threw a touchdown pass to Brandon Bolden into the flat and then hit Kristian Wilkerson on a corner post for another score.
It’s life as a rookie, especially in New England where things can speed up and get out of control at times. How Jones handled himself after the fact means much more than 11-on-11s in shells.
In total the QBs performed as follows:
Pats QB’s on Day 4:— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) July 31, 2021
11 on 11’s:
Newton: 12 for 20
Jones: 12 for 21
Bit of a lighter day in terms of throwing but a good finish for both Newton and Jones — who both had rough stretches. Overall, good week of work for both quarterbacks. Back at it on Monday. #Patriots
Nelson Agholor adds to his strong week: Free agency addition Agholor continued to dominate on the practice field for the fourth straight day on Saturday. He was again consistently separating down the field and continued to be a familiar target for both quarterbacks as he had been throughout the week. Despite mostly red zone work being on the menu for the offense, Agholor has still found a way to make plays down the field in limited opportunities.
A day after making a highlight reel catch from Cam Newton, Agholor and Newton hooked up again on a 40-yard dart. It was a deep post, with Newton throwing it on a spot and Agholor running under it while making a sliding catch. The following play, Agholor beat J.C. Jackson on a slant in the red zone for a touchdown from Jones.
Welcome, rookies! A tradition like no other; rookies and first-year coaches participating in the wet ball drill. For about an hour or so before practice, supporting staff soaked the grass in the back corner of the end zone on Saturday. Following a light warmup, the whole team headed over to the back of the end zone where team captain Matthew Slater soaked the youngsters and new coaches as they ran through the hose with a ball.
J.C. Jackson speaks: Jackson met the media for the first time on Saturday and fielded questions over his contract, pending unrestricted free agency, and teammate Stephon Gilmore. He noted that he would be trying to focus on each and every day while continuing to let his play do the talking. He was later asked about Gilmore and his current situation, saying that the two would “talk every day” and that Jackson views the veteran as a “big brother.”
Answer: Gilmore reported to camp last week but we have yet to see him on the practice field. He came out on Wednesday in sweats following his work on the conditioning field, and he also appeared to have been spotted on Saturday while working out on the lower field (via Pats Pulpit’s Brian Hines). It is unknown when we will see him join the rest of the team for regular practices, but his absence seems to be a mixture of him rehabbing his quad and a de facto contract holdout.
What’s the status of Andrews and Karras who left yesterday with injuries?— Gerard St. Ours (@GerardStOurs) July 31, 2021
Answer: David Andrews is healthy and hasn't missed any time due to injury. Ted Karras missed Saturday’s practice after getting rolled up on at the end of practice the previous day. He walked off under his own power with head trainer Jim Whelan, and initial reports indicate that he avoided a serious injury. It is unknown when Karras will be back, though.