The New England Patriots were back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Monday for their second straight session of training camp and eleventh overall. Once again, the team was wearing full pads with an emphasis on the running game and physical competition.
With that being said, let’s clean out the notebook before turning our attention to practice No. 12 later today.
Devin Asiasi thinks it is ‘crazy’ he was a Covid-19 breakthrough case
When the Patriots opened their training camp, second-year tight end Devin Asiasi was nowhere to be found. The reason for his absence was him testing positive for the Coronavirus — despite being fully vaccinated.
On Monday, Asiasi spoke about the experience for the first time.
“Man, it’s crazy,” he said after practice. “It’s crazy, but just like everybody I knew I wasn’t immune to disease just because I got the vaccination. For me, I just dealt with it. It is what it is. The best thing I can do moving forward is making sure I’m hydrated, making sure I’m taking care of myself, and make sure my family and all my loved ones are doing the same.”
Asiasi missed the Patriots’ first nine practices before returning to work on Sunday. While he missed considerable time, he did try to make the most out of his absence.
“I had a couple of virtual meetings set up with our coaches. I had a couple of guys that helped me out on the side when they had a little free time,” he said. “Obviously, the schedule is demanding, but whenever they had free time I got on the phone, got in WebEx meetings with them, and got my due diligence of my work every single day.”
Asiasi is one of just a few breakthrough Covid-19 cases in the NFL. According to a CDC study released in late July, less than 0.004 percent of fully vaccinated people across the United States — 6,587 out of over 163 million — later contracted the virus.
Second-year Patriots find themselves in a first-year setting
With Covid-19 forcing the NFL to drastically change its procedures last season, then-rookies such as Asiasi faced a challenging transition to the NFL level. On Tuesday, he was among the second-year players speaking about being in a first-year setting now even with one full season of experience under their belts.
“I think it is a big thing for a bunch of us second-years,” he said about the league slowly returning to normalcy.
“Not having that last year and being able to have that this year with OTAs and minicamp was a big thing for us; just to get those extra reps, the extra meeting time with coaches. Just so that everything can sink in as far as what the playbook holds. I think it was really good, and a benefit for all of us. It felt good getting back in the spring and getting those reps.”
Fellow 2020 third-round selection Anfernee Jennings spoke in similar terms about being able to go through a more traditional offseason and summer preparation.
“Last year, I haven’t had preseason and all that type of stuff. Joint practices — looking forward to having stuff like that — and having preseason, getting all those reps, getting the confidence, and knowing what we young players need to be,” he said.
“Just coming in and putting in the work, having a better understanding of the system and how things are done here. My advantage is staying here this offseason and working with the coaches and the older players, and being around them so far I’ve learned a lot.”
Asiasi and Jennings both had comparatively quiet rookie seasons and will try to make the famous second-year jump now. The circumstances are certainly more favorable this time around.
N’Keal Harry has a quiet day
N’Keal Harry was spectacular all of last week, but the former first-round draft pick was quiet on Tuesday. He saw only two targets during full-team work, with both falling incomplete: Cam Newton overthrew him on a deep attempt, while Mac Jones placed a ball too high in the end zone.
The starting offensive line keeps dominating 1-on-1s
Monday’s practice saw the Patriots wear full pads for the second day in a row. This also means that there were more 1-on-1 battles between offensive and defensive linemen.
While the defenders won their fair share of battles, one thing becomes obvious: New England’s starting offensive line is pretty darn good. Even with Isaiah Wynn losing his first battle of the summer against a magnificent Deatrich Wise Jr, the group as a whole still owns a 26-6 record, as charted by Jeff Howe of The Athletic.
Starting left tackle Wynn now owns a 6-1 record, with left guard Michael Onwenu (3-2), center David Andrews (5-2), right guard Shaq Mason (6-1), and right tackle Trent Brown (6-0) also all in the win column.
Bill Belichick talks Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Patriots had their day off on Saturday, giving head coach Bill Belichick and opportunity to visit Canton for this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony. On Tuesday, Belichick spoke about the trip.
“Always good to be in Canton. It’s a great spot. A lot of history there,” he said.
“It’s great to see the players. Unfortunately we lost a few here and last year and two years. Great to see the great players and coaches that were on hand. It was good. David Baker’s done a tremendous job with the Hall and everything about it, the enshrinement. Of course, it was bigger than ever with multiple classes that they had in there, so that made it pretty interesting too. Glad to be there for some of the people that I’ve competed against. Maybe we’ll get one of ours in next year.”
Belichick was also asked about one potential future Hall of Famer currently under contract with his team, Matthew Slater. When asked whether he thinks Slater would be deserving of the famous golden jacket despite special teamers not being recognized, he pointed out that he “would be setting that bar” upon making it in.
“There aren’t many like him in there,” he said. “He would be setting that bar if that were to happen. It’s not something I have any control over. I don’t have a vote.”