The first set of New England Patriots joint practices is in the books. The team held its final of two sessions with the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday morning, focusing primarily on red zone work during the 80-minute event. The two teams will next meet for a preseason contest on Thursday night.
Before focusing on that contest, however, let’s take one look back and clean out the notebook from joint practice No. 2.
Meet your new Patriots tight end depth chart: Devin Asiasi
Jonnu Smith? Riding a stationary bike. Hunter Henry? Working out on his own. Matt LaCosse? Nowhere to be seen. Dalton Keene? Injured reserve. Troy Fumagalli? Waived with an injury designation. David Wells? Released.
The Patriots’ tight end depth chart has suffered some considerable losses over the last two weeks, leaving only one player standing at the position during Tuesday’s practice. Second-year man Devin Asiasi, who himself had opened training camp on the Reserve/Covid-19 list, was the group’s lone representative versus Philadelphia.
Asiasi rarely left the field, and saw a notable uptick in practice reps. He finished with two receptions in team drills, including a touchdown from Mac Jones late during 11-on-11 work.
“We have a couple guys down, but I just have to step up and play my role,” he said after practice. “Knowing what I have to do out there, knowing how to execute and all that. Just stepping up and playing ball like any day.”
With New England’s second preseason game now only one day away, Asiasi seems destined to be the team’s only tight end. There is a chance Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry or Matt LaCosse might see the field as well, but it seems unlikely that the team will risk anything when it comes to their respective recovery processes.
Fullback Jakob Johnson might be offering some emergency depth behind Asiasi, though.
Jakobi Meyers loves what he sees out of new teammate Kendrick Bourne
The Patriots made some big investments at the wide receiver position this offseason, and Kendrick Bourne was one of the players brought in. The fifth-year wide receiver, who signed a three-year free agency contract, apparently is fitting in well with his new club — at least if Jakobi Meyers is to be believed.
“KB’s my guy, man. The room loves him, the team loves him,” Meyers said during a press conference after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s a great guy to have on the team. Just the way he comes out every day, he’s going to be consistently KB. Every day. He’s never down, he’s always right there. Just a baller energy. It’s hard not to love him.”
Bourne caught all three of his targets during 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s on Tuesday, continuing to be a reliable player for both Cam Newton and Mac Jones.
As far as joint practices in general are concerned, Meyers referred to them as a “building block” on the way to a successful regular season.
“It’s never as good as you think it is, it’s never as bad as you think it is,” he said. “We’re not going to get too gassed up. We’re going to learn from it, continue to keep trying to get better every day, and build off of that.”
Is Cam Newton really the ‘Checkdown King’?
One of the notable moments of Tuesday’s practice came when Eagles defensive back K’Von Wallace shouted “Checkdown King!” across the line of scrimmage to Patriots quarterback Cam Newton. The previous day, during what was a challenging practice, Newton was too reliant on checking down the ball.
Wallace made sure to let him know, which he later explained to NJ.com.
“I had to let him know like, ‘Not only are you throwing checkdowns, you’re doing it over and over again like you’ve mastered it, like you’re the king of it.’ I had to let him know,” Wallace said. “‘You’re the king of checkdowns.’ But any way you can get in the quarterback’s head, that’s the best approach.”
So, was there any truth to Wallace’s remarks as far as Tuesday’s practice is concerned? Five of Newton’s eleven passes during 7-on-7 work went to running backs, but the ball certainly came out of his hands faster than it did no Monday. The plays do therefore not fit the traditional checkdown criteria, even though if throwing short passes without the threat of an offensive line batting them away can be held against the QB.
Still, Newton had a solid practice on Tuesday even if he was not aggressively attacking down the field all of the time.
Cam Newton and Jalen Hurts exchange pleasantries
Newton may no longer be the MVP-caliber quarterback he was a few seasons ago, but he is still immensely popular among his peers and a role model for a younger generation of players. Among those is Jalen Hurts, who spoke about the Patriots’ QB after Tuesday’s practice.
“This was my first time actually meeting him in person,” the Eagles’ starting quarterback said, via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “As an older athlete, he’s a legendary player, the things he’s done in college and in the league. Being able to talk to him and have a relationship with him, it was great.”
Hurts’ remarks came one day after Newton spoke highly of him as well.
“Hurts is my little bro,” he said on Monday. “There’s a lot of guys I admire from afar. Just to see the state of the NFL, having so much athleticism at the quarterback position, it’s something to smile about. Jalen is somebody I followed all throughout his college career. I heard so much about him. For me to see him out here today, it’s always love and will always be love between us.”
Bill Belichick takes his team on a field trip
With Tuesday’s practice being a shorter one compared to Monday’s two-hour affair, the Patriots had some time available for a team building activity following the session. So, what did they do? According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, head coach Bill Belichick took his squad to visit NFL Films’ headquarters in Mount Laurel, 17 miles from Philadelphia.
Belichick’s affinity for NFL Films and football history in general is no secret, and it seems as if he wants to pass some of it on to his team as well.