Joint practices are back on the menu! After not being able to conduct any joint sessions during last year’s training camp, the New England Patriots will have two of them this summer. The first was kicked off on Monday in Philadelphia: the Patriots and Eagles held their first of two practices.
The session lasted two hours and saw both teams wear full pads. It also saw a New England team that was inconsistent on both sides of the ball throughout the day. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however.
Here’s today’s Patriots Training Camp Notebook.
Non-participants: K Nick Folk, DB Myles Bryant, LS Joe Cardona, LB Anfernee Jennings, TE Jonnu Smith, WR Tre Nixon, DT Lawrence Guy
PUP/NFI: QB Jarrett Stidham (PUP), CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP), S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI), LB Cameron McGrone (NFI), LB Terez Hall (PUP), DT Byron Cowart (PUP)
For the second straight day, tight end Hunter Henry was present but did not participate in any live drills. He departed after the team’s warmup period and later worked out with head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera on another field. Henry is dealing with a shoulder injury, although him making the trip to Philadelphia can be seen as a positive sign.
Fellow tight end Jonnu Smith was spotted at the session after suffering an ankle injury on Sunday, but he did not participate.
TE Matt LaCosse: With Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry both not participating in full-team work, Devin Asiasi and Matt LaCosse were supposed to be the next players in line. However, LaCosse was forced to depart the session after taking a hard hit on a crossing pattern. He remained on the ground for about 30 seconds, and later walked off the field with members of the Patriots’ training staff. He did not return.
Patriots have an inconsistent practice: No matter if offense or defense, New England experienced its fair share of ups and downs on both sides of the ball — especially during 11-on-11 work. Even though they also were not perfect, the Eagles ran the cleaner overall operation on Monday and generally were more consistent.
Neither quarterback looks particularly sharp: New England’s inconsistency started at the top, with neither of the team’s top-two quarterbacks having their best day.
Cam Newton, who again was leading off every period and saw most of the action with the starters, was charted going 8-for-13 in 11-on-11s (including one Kristian Wilkerson drop) as well as 4-for-6 in 7-on-7s. He had some good moments during a late two-minute period, but also threw an interception in the end zone in a last-play-of-the-game simulation. All in all, Newton was “on” at times but he also had his “off” moments.
Mac Jones had his as well, but he looked like the better quarterback of the two on Monday. Working as New England’s QB2 yet again, the rookie had a 13-for-20 performance in 11-on-11s that also included two drops by Wilkerson and Sony Michel as well as two throws that should have been picked by the defense; he went 5-for-6 in 7-on-7s. Jones started the day well, but he faded a bit down the stretch.
Wide receivers are a mixed bag...: Returning to face the team that originally drafted him, Nelson Agholor had some good plays and some bad. He was blanketed by Eagles cornerback Darius Slay twice during 1-on-1s, and caught only one pass total against Philadelphia’s starters. However, he did have his way with the team’s backup defenders.
Third-year men N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers also had their moments, with both looking good during 1-on-1s. Harry in particular caught the eye and had some good catches.
On the other end of the spectrum was Kristian Wilkerson. As noted above, the second-year pass catcher was unable to do just that on more than one occasion: he had a pair of drops.
...and so is the running game: Led by perennial Pro Bowler Fletcher Cox the Eagles have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Early on, the Patriots were unable to establish a presence on the ground against them even though they found more success as the session went along.
New England used all of its running backs on Monday, with Rhamondre Stevenson in particular seeing plenty of action. The fourth-round rookie entered the day fresh off a 127-yard and 2-touchdown performance versus the Washington Football Team in the preseason opener last week.
J.J. Taylor sees more opportunities: Not only was he used as part of the running back committee, second-year man J.J. Taylor also saw some opportunities in the return game. After serving as the Patriots’ kickoff returner against Washington, he also had a chance to run back punts on Monday. Obviously, that job belongs to All-Pro Gunner Olszewski, but Taylor being able to contribute as a backup option increases his value to the team.
New England’s linebackers show their big-play abilities: Matthew Judon had an injury scare against Washington, but he did not show any signs of being slowed down on Monday. The first-year Patriot also had one of the biggest plays of the day, intercepting Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts during 7-on-7s — a play that ended with Judon returning the pick for a would-be touchdown, front-flipping into the end zone.
Ja’Whaun Bentley also had an interception during the same drill. While he did not return the pick to the end zone like Judon, the play was another positive one for Bentley in a summer filled with them.
While Kyle Van Noy did not register an interception, he also made a positive play. He batted a pass at the line of scrimmage.
What’s next? The Patriots and Eagles will be back on the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex in Philadelphia on Tuesday morning for their second and final workout together. Attendance will again be restricted, so make sure to follow Brandon Lee Gowton of Pats Pulpit’s sister site Bleeding Green Nation for updates.