The New England Patriots were back on the practice fields on Sunday morning to hold their 13th training camp practice. It was the team’s first one since the preseason opener against the Washington Football Team three days earlier, and the last before the its departure to Philadelphia for two joint practices with the Eagles.
Before looking ahead at those, let’s take one final look back and clean out the notebook from Day 13 of camp.
The Patriots’ depth tight ends should see more action moving forward
With Jonnu Smith suffering what has been reported as a low ankle sprain, and with Hunter Henry not participating in any non-stretching work on Sunday after hurting his shoulder a week earlier, the Patriots will have to keep a close eye on their two tight ends moving forward. In turn, it would not be surprising if their backup players at the position jump into the spotlight this week.
Devin Asiasi and Matt LaCosse take the top spots on the depth chart with Smith and Henry out, with Troy Fumagalli serving as a depth option behind them.
Asiasi just recently returned from a stint on the Covid-19 list, and played only 12 snaps in the preseason opener; he would benefit from seeing additional practice reps with the top-two out. LaCosse, meanwhile, is fighting for his roster life but has a golden opportunity head of him. Fumagalli’s chances of making the team remain low, despite Smith’s and Henry’s injuries.
With the goal being of getting the two ready for the regular season, though, all three backups should see increased action moving forward.
New England starts cutting its roster earlier
With the first cutdown deadline coming on Tuesday, the Patriots have started to make their first wave of roster cuts. Four players have either officially or reportedly been released:
- WR Marvin Hall
- TE David Wells
- OT Jerald Hawkins
- LB Rashod Berry
All four have been long shots to make the roster to begin with, so seeing them cut is no particular surprise. However, the moves might be an indication that most of the players currently listed on the active reserve lists or not spotted during practice recently might be good to return in the near future. The Patriots, after all, could easily have cleared space on their roster by putting the reserve status on injured or rehabbing players.
That did not happen, which can be seen as a good sign moving forward.
The kicker competition continues to shift in Quinn Nordin’s favor
Speaking of rehabbing players: veteran Nick Folk continues to be a no-show at practice even after sitting out the preseason opener as well as the Patriots’ five previous practices. In his absence, and even though he did not attempt any field goals during Sunday’s walkthrough, undrafted rookie Quinn Nordin continues to gain ground in the competition for the place kicker job.
Folk was originally seen as a near-lock to make the roster based on the contract he signed upon returning to New England in free agency, but his absence in combination with Nordin’s emergency — he made all three field goals plus one of two extra points against Washington — has created an interesting situation for all involved. One thing is certain: the rookie is gaining ground with every additional practice or game Folk misses.
Patriots players are looking forward to joint practices with the Eagles
New England traveled to Philadelphia after its Sunday morning practice, with joint practices against the Eagles scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. The Patriots’ players are looking forward to the opportunity of competing against another team for the first time all season.
“I think it’s big just to be able to have the experience. It’s a different type of competition then going against your team all the time. It just kind of diversifies the competition, which is always great for you. I’m looking forward to it,” said safety Kyle Dugger.
“I’m looking forward to it, so much. Anytime you kind of go to war with your brothers — team versus team — I think it’s always great. The competition will be fun.”
Dugger also noted that he learned from the team’s veterans about what to expect, saying that they mentioned the aggressiveness of those joint sessions. The second-year defender obviously has never participated in such practices: the Patriots were forced to abandon their plans to work together with the Detroit Lions last summer due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Rookie linebacker Ronnie Perkins is in a similar situation, despite having even less experience at the NFL level than Dugger.
“It’ll be some great work for us as a team — tell us where we’re at, tell me where I’m at as a player,” the third-round draft pick said. “I feel like they have some great offensive linemen, so it’s just a great chance for me to go out there and show what I can do [and] also get some constructive criticism from my teammates, coaches after these few practices that we have with them.”
Kendrick Bourne’s special connection with Philadelphia
Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne joined the Patriots in free agency, but things could have worked out differently had the Eagles made a more aggressive pitch in free agency. As Bourne revealed on Sunday, they were interested in acquiring his services as well.
“I actually was recruited by them in this free agency,” he said.
Bourne, who signed a three-year, $15 million contract to come to New England, added that the Patriots were his number one choice regardless — in part due to the money they invested in him. However, he also noted that wide receivers coach Mick Lombardi played a role in this process by explaining him how the team would plan to use him.
“Here was just the best opportunity for me to grow my career,” Bourne said.
As for the upcoming joint practices, the 26-year-old said that he would be excited for the opportunity to work against some quality defensive backs.
“I’m just excited to go learn,” he said. “I know a couple of the DBs now; I know [Darius] Slay, one of the good guys over there. They have a lot of good DBs, so I just want to put some good stuff on tape. We’ll see how it goes.”