For the second straight day, the New England Patriots were back on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Tuesday. And while all eyes will be on the upcoming joint practices with the New York Giants set to kick off on Wednesday, let’s take one look back at what was an eventful day despite New England’s players not wearing full pads.
Kahale Warring offers some much-needed tight end depth
The NFL’s second cutdown deadline came and went on Tuesday afternoon, and it saw the Patriots make several moves. Five players were released, one was sent to injured reserve, and the tight end depth was also improved: New England claimed Kahale Warring off waivers.
A former third-round draft pick by the Houston Texans, Warring needs to get up to speed quickly but he offers some experienced depth behind top-two Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. That is especially true considering that the two high-priced offseason acquisitions recently missed time due to ankle and shoulder ailments, respectively, and that Matt LaCosse remains out after suffering an apparent head injury during last week’s joint practices with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Patriots had only one true tight end active for their preseason game versus the Eagles last Thursday, and at the very least Warring gives them some depth alongside Devin Asiasi in case both Smith and Henry are held out once again.
And — who knows? — maybe he will do enough to make a very late push towards the 53-man roster. It would not be the first time a late addition finds its way onto the team.
Bill Belichick is not interested in talking about the Cam Newton situation
On Monday, the Patriots released a statement that quarterback Cam Newton would be absent until Thursday following a “misunderstanding” with the NFL’s Covid-19 protocols. Naturally, the topic dominated Bill Belichick’s press conference ahead of Tuesday’s practice.
The only problem was that New England’s head coach was not interested in speaking about the matter. At all.
Let’s just let the official team transcript give you a glimpse of that:
On the team’s statement about Cam Newton’s absence:
BB: I don’t have anything to add to it, Tom [Curran].
On whether a player’s vaccination status will affect any of his decisions:
BB: The league rules are the league rules. We’ll be compliant with them. Whatever they are, they are.
On dealing with players who are exposed to COVID-19:
BB: Well, this is similar to what it was last year, so we dealt with it last year.
On whether there being no vaccine last year differentiates last season to this season:
BB: Yeah. I understand. I’m talking about the rules.
On there now being ways to circumvent COVID-19 rules with the introduction of the vaccine:
BB: Every team is dealing with the same situation.
On if having an unvaccinated player puts the team at a competitive disadvantage:
BB: Every team has got the same situation.
On the health of Cam Newton:
BB: I don’t have anything to add to the statement. It is what it is. We’ve given information, and that’s all I have.
On if the plan is to play Cam Newton in Sunday’s game against the Giants:
BB: Look. I don’t have anything to add to that.
Belichick did acknowledge that Newton is expected back on Thursday and that missing time might put him at a competitive disadvantage. As expected, though, he did not go into any more detail.
Business as usual in New England.
Jonnu Smith thinks that Mac Jones has ‘settled in’
Seventeen training camp practices and two preseason games into his NFL career, Mac Jones has shown why the Patriots invested a first-round draft pick in him. He appears to have adapted well to life in one of the most complex offensive systems in football, and along the way has earned the respect of his teammates.
He also has “settled in,” according to tight end Jonnu Smith.
“He’s been progressing really well,” Smith said about the rookie following Tuesday’s practice. “Just taking from everything that’s in the meeting room to the field and just executing it. You can just tell he’s getting comfortable, and he’s settled in. Everything’s going to work out for him. He’s a hard worker. Looking forward to seeing him do great things.”
Jones and Smith both looked good on Tuesday, connecting five times in the passing game.
Trent Brown responds to praise about his leadership
Both Bill Belichick and fellow offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn recently praised Trent Brown for the role he has taken over since his return to the Patriots earlier this offseason. Brown, who spent the 2018 in New England before a two-year stint with the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, was reacquired via trade and immediately slid into the starting right tackle gig — and not just that: he also established himself as a leader in the offensive line room.
On Tuesday, Brown responded to the praise.
“Definitely feel more comfortable stepping into that role,” he said. “Me being one of the older guys in the room and one of the more experienced guys in the room. Year 7 across the board. Really the center over the right side, it’s Year 7 for all three of us and we’re all just taking our part in taking ownership and leading the room. We all got a taste of what the original Patriot Way is and want to kind of continue that onward.”
Brown added that he would appreciate the atmosphere in New England and how it welcomes straight-shooters like himself. And in case there is still any doubt about how he feels in his second stint as a Patriot, the following scene from Matthew Judon’s press conference is a more visual example:
In case you're wondering: Yes, Trent Brown enjoys his time in New England. pic.twitter.com/vuREzFjJAk— Bernd Buchmasser (@BerndBuchmasser) August 25, 2021
Nick Folk explains what kept him out of practice
Before his return on Monday, veteran place kicker Nick Folk missed ten straight practices as well as the Patriots’ two preseason games against the Washington Football Team and Philadelphia Eagles. On Tuesday, he spoke to the media to give some insight into why he was away from the club.
“A little bit of soreness I was trying to take care of it, make sure I’m ready for the season,” he said. “I was back out there yesterday. It felt good to be there. So, just kind of keep going forward, get ready for tomorrow, get ready for this week with the Giants and have fun doing it.”
Folk went 3-for-5 on field goal tries during his return to the field on Monday. He did not see any live reps yesterday, but had to see undrafted rookie challenger Quinn Nordin produce another inconsistent performance: attempting to split the narrower-than-usual uprights, Nordin made his first three kicks before missing the next three.
Matthew Slater speaks highly of Joe Judge
The Giants will visit the Patriots for joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday, which means that long-time special teams coordinator Joe Judge will be back in Foxborough. Judge, who left New England after the 2019 season to become the Giants’ head coach, will also reunite with one of his former pupils, Matthew Slater.
On Tuesday, Slater sang Judge’s praises.
“It will be great to see Joe,” he said. “There are very few people who have been as influential in my football career as Joe has. He challenged me in so many different ways; he encouraged me in so many different ways. He helped me become the player that I’ve become. I owe him so much. Every time I hear the name Joe Judge I’m just grateful because of the man that he was for me and what he’s done for me over the course of my career.”
Judge is entering his second season with the Giants. The team went 6-10 in his first year at the helm, finishing second in the NFC East.