A new day, a new opportunity for the New England Patriots to practice against another team. They will return to the fields at Philadelphia’s NovaCare Complex on Tuesday for the second of two joint sessions with the Eagles. As was the case on Monday, the event projects to be an eventful one with plenty of competition between the two squads.
There will be plenty to look at, including these three areas:
The quarterback’s ability to bounce back
Day 1 of joint practices went to the Eagles, with the Patriots offense in particular having a hard time to penetrate the opposing defense on a consistent basis. The issues started at the top, with quarterbacks Cam Newton and Mac Jones both having up-and-down performances.
The two have had those at previous times in training camp already, but they have usually bounced back well the next day. Will Tuesday be more of the same for Newton and Jones? That remains to be seen, but the ability to have a short memory could be a deciding factor in the race for the starting quarterback role.
Red zone drills
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said during a media conference call on Tuesday morning that red zone work would be a main priority during the second session in Philadelphia, with the two teams expected to spend considerable time inside the 20-yard line. New England had some encouraging moments near the goal line on Monday, but consistency was an issue once again — particularly on the offensive side of the ball.
The running game
Perennial Pro Bowl defensive lineman Fletcher Cox proved to be a disruptive presence up front for the Eagles on Monday, with the Patriots’ interior O-line failing to create a consistent push and open up holes against him and the rest of a talented defensive line. As a result, New England’s running backs had a tough time gaining yards on the ground.
James White might have been the best of the group early during 11-on-11s, but Damien Harris, Sony Michel and Rhamondre Stevenson had only a limited impact. Will Tuesday be more of the same, especially in short-yardage situations down near the goal line?
As for yesterday’s things to watch, here are a few quick notes:
Mac Jones against another NFL defense: After a solid performance in his NFL debut against the Washington Football Team last week, the first-round rookie had some ups and downs against the second pro-level offense he has ever gone up against. Jones did throw some impressive passes, but he also was lucky that a pair of deep throws was not intercepted.
O-line versus D-line drills: The Patriots and Eagles decided against doing 1-on-1 work involving offensive and defensive linemen on Monday. The position groups did see plenty of work during full-team drills, though. The Eagles appear to have gotten the better of New England’s O-line, with the the Patriots D-line having some disruptive plays.
Patriots’ wide receivers: New England’s wide receivers were a mixed bag on Monday. Nelson Agholor had some catches, but only one came against starter-level defenders. N’Keal Harry dominated in 1-on-1s, but was more quiet during team drills. Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne were solid as usual. Kristian Wilkerson dropped more passes than he caught. Gunner Olszewski, Isaiah Zuber and Devin Ross each had one catch during team work.