After wearing full pads the previous day, the New England Patriots held a comparatively light session on Tuesday. But while players were in shells and the setup itself suggested a walkthrough — which makes sense given that two days of joint practices with the New York Giants are ahead — there still was a lot going on.
Let’s therefore take a look at those who caught our eye for better or worse.
Winner: QB Mac Jones
With Cam Newton still out due to a “misunderstanding” related to the NFL’s Coronavirus protocols, Jones saw significant reps for a second straight day. He made the most out of them: Jones had a good session after an up-and-down performance on Monday.
While he did throw a pair of interceptions during red zone work late, he also led the Patriots on back-to-back touchdown drives early on. One of those series was capped by the play of the day: Jones hit Jakobi Meyers on a slot fade from about 20 yards out, with the wide receiver making an impressive catch for the score. The highlight-reel play was one of many positive moments New England’s young quarterback had on Tuesday.
In total, Jones completed 30 of 37 throws during 11-on-11 work. More importantly, though, he bounced back strong after Monday’s session.
Winner: DB Jalen Mills
On a day that saw both J.C. Jackson and Devin McCourty register interceptions, Jalen Mills was able to stand out even without registering any takeaways. The first-year Patriot, who was acquired in free agency earlier this offseason, forced a pair of incompletions on Tuesday and was quite active in coverage.
Mills had his ups and downs when aligning as an outside cornerback earlier in training camp, but he appears to be hitting his stride now and is seemingly getting more comfortable within the defense.
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers
After not registering a catch during competitive team drills on Monday, Jakobi Meyers was the Patriots’ most active receiver on Tuesday. The third-year man, who projects as a starter-level receiver for the team this season, was targeted seven times by Mac Jones. Of those seven passes, six were completed — including the aforementioned fade for a touchdown that was arguably the best offensive play of the day.
The Jones-to-Meyers connection has been a productive one throughout training camp. The first-round QB and the former rookie free agent have registered 22 completions on 32 targets, as charted by Jeff Howe of The Athletic. They are building a rapport, which is obviously good news for the entire passing offense.
Loser: K Quinn Nordin
The glass-half-full perspective is this: After not attempting any live kicks during Monday’s practice — all of them were handled by returnee Nick Folk — Nordin did get some opportunities again on Tuesday. The Patriots trusted him to attempt six total kicks while Folk had none.
The glass-half-empty perspective is this: Despite monopolizing place kicks on Tuesday, Nordin did nothing to build any momentum. The youngster, who missed a field goal and two extra points last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, went just 3-for-6 while trying to split the skinny goal posts; he made his first three kicks before badly missing his next three.
When talking about Nordin and the kicker position in general Bill Belichick has repeatedly mentioned the need to be consistent. The youngster was anything but on Tuesday.
Winner: TE Jonnu Smith
In his second day back from a minor ankle injury, Jonnu Smith showed why the Patriots sent a Brink’s truck to his house in free agency. He was targeted six times by Mac Jones on Tuesday, and finished with five receptions. Smith beat Jalen Mills on one occasion and registered two catches each against Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger.
He was pretty good, and showed why he will play a big role in New England’s offense moving forward.