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Patriots training camp notebook: Mac Jones again fills starter role, bounces back on Tuesday

Related: Patriots training camp notebook: Mac Jones has up-and-down day with Cam Newton out

NFL: New England Patriots Minicamp Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

As the New England Patriots prepare for the New York Giants to come into town Wednesday and Thursday, they were back on the practice field Tuesday for their 17th training camp practice. As the intensity is expected to pick up with New York present, the Patriots were in shells on Tuesday — but there were still plenty of competitive periods.

Here is today’s Training Camp Notebook:

Attendance

Absent: QB Cam Newton, WR N’Keal Harry, WR Tre Nixon, TE Matt LaCosse, DL Nick Thurman, RB Brandon Bolden, OL Marcus Martin

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)

Returnees: DB Myles Bryant (red non-contact jersey)

Roster Moves: As New England’s roster needs to be trimmed to 80 players by 4 pm EST, the team released WR Devin Ross, S Malik Gant, LS Brian Khoury, and OL R.J. Prince. For more on the moves, please click here.

Injuries

RB Damien Harris: Harris had an injury scare in one 11-on-11 rep when he ran into rookie linebacker Ronnie Perkins near the line of scrimmage. Harris was slow to get up, but left the field smiling and later returned.

Takeaways

A day of opportunity for Mac Jones: While Cam Newton remains out, Mac Jones dominated the reps again for the Patriots. After struggling on Monday in the starter role, it was a much better day overall for the rookie. He led the Patriots offense on back-to-back touchdown drives to begin practice, one going to Jakobi Meyers for the throw of the day. Meyers ran a slot fade from about the 20-yard line and made an impressive catch on a dime from Mac Jones in the back corner of the end zone. The play drew a fist bump from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and a cheer from the offense.

Things did get shaky for Jones near the end of practice. As the team transitioned into red zone work, Jones threw two interceptions. The first was a pass just behind Gunner Olszewski that popped into the air and into the arms of Devin McCourty, who returned the interception for a pick-six. Jones’ second interception was also intended for Olszewski, but cornerback J.C. Jackson ran a slant route better and jumped in to make the play.

It was promising to see Jones improve after a poor day yesterday. His confidence at the line of scrimmage was again noticeable and he continues to impress in the pocket to avoid defenders. For those into statistics, Jones was 30-of-37 overall in 11-on-11 work.

Yodny Cajuste continues to climb the depth chart: After a strong preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Cajuste is making a last-minute push for a roster spot. On Tuesday, Cajuste stayed with the starting offensive line during walk-through periods before eventually taking over for Trent Brown in some 11-on-11s. Justin Herron still appeared to be operating as the team’s third offensive tackle, but Cajuste looks to have the fourth spot locked down for now. With a pair of joint practices and a preseason game left on the schedule, he’ll have plenty more opportunities to impress.

Jakobi Meyers continues to eat: Throughout camp, Meyers has been one of the Patriots most consistent offensive weapons. That did not change on Tuesday, as the third-year receiver hauled in six-of-seven targets and two touchdowns. Meyers easily would have hauled in the lone incompletion for a third score, but Jones overthrew him on a deep crosser.

Quinn Nordin picks up where he left off: After a strong start to training camp, the Quinn Nordin bandwagon took a hard hit in Thursday’s game against the Eagles as the rookie missed a handful of kicks. Despite Nick Folk being back at practice, the Patriots let Nordin handle the kicking duties to conclude Tuesday’s practice. Nordin was kicking towards the narrower goal posts, but he had three distinct, ugly misses.

Other notes:

  • Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson continued to see reps as a kick returner. The rookie made one apparent mistake that cause a loud outburst from special teams coordinator Cam Achord.
  • J.C. Jackson continues to be a ballhawk in the Patriots secondary. After being beat by Olszewski for a touchdown Monday, Jackson got his revenge with the aforementioned interception Tuesday. Jackson also showed off his range, breaking off his receiver to haul in a deep ball intended to fullback Jakob Johnson from Brian Hoyer.
  • Jonnu Smith remains a versatile and reliable option for the Patriots offense. He hauled in five catches on Tuesday including two contested snags over Adrian Phillips — one for a touchdown. The battles between Phillips and the tight ends have been one of the best throughout camp.
  • Speaking of the tight ends, Hunter Henry supported a red non-contact jersey as he continues to return from a shoulder injury. He participated in individual drills while sitting out of team drills.
  • With former Patriots assistant coach Joe Judge returning to Foxboro with the Giants, Matthew Slater reflected on how much Judge has meant to his career: “Very few people who have been as influential in my career as Joe has… He’s helped me become the player I have become.”

That is all for today’s Training Camp Notebook. Make sure to follow @iambrianhines and @patspulpit on Twitter for all your training camp updates from Gillette Stadium!