The New England Patriots welcomed the New York Giants to the hot and muggy Gillette Stadium practice fields Wednesday for the first of two joint practices. As the two prepare for their preseason finale Friday, the pads were on and the intensity was high.
With that in mind, here’s who impressed, and who took a step back, on Wednesday.
Winner: QB Mac Jones
Again, it was the Mac Jones show for the Patriots as quarterback Cam Newton remains absent. And if there is any window of opportunity for Jones to become the Week 1 starter, he took full advantage of it today.
Jones was accurate, confident at the line of scrimmage, moved well within the pocket, and had no issues taking what the Giants’ starting defense gave him. He was surgical in both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work, with a 50-yard dime to Jakobi Meyers late in the afternoon highlighting, and capping off, his performance. The rookie even earned a low-5 from Bill Belichick after leading a successful two-minute drill.
It was exactly what New England could have hoped to see from Jones versus a Giants defense that impressed last season. After three days of heavy throwing and reps, it would not be a surprise to see Jones handle a lighter workload tomorrow as Newton is expected to make his return. Either way, Jones was the biggest winner from Wednesday.
Winner: RB Rhamondre Stevenson
As Sony Michel was traded away to the Los Angeles Rams Wednesday morning, it showed the belief the team has in rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson. In his first practice without Michel, Stevenson showed why the team has such belief.
The Oklahoma product had a strong practice against the Giants, mixing in as the No. 2 option behind Damien Harris. In 1-on-1 tackle drills, Stevenson also showed off his ability to move for a larger back, shaking Giants linebacker Cam Brown and leaving him standing in place. He also had a quality blitz pickup, something the coaching staff will surely take notice of.
Winner: DL Christian Barmore
While Mac Jones and the Patriots offense earned much of the shine Wednesday, the Patriots defense certainly made life difficult for the Giants. Rookie defensive lineman Christian Barmore was a thorn in the Giants offensive line throughout the day, winning several 1-on-1 reps decisively. Barmore’s presence continues to be felt up front, especially when he’s rushing the passer.
Winner: WR Jakobi Meyers
Meyers has been Mr. Consistent for the Patriots offense this summer. After hauling in six receptions in Tuesday’s practice, Meyers was busy yet again against the Giants. The third-year receiver caught four more passes on Wednesday, while also drawing a defensive holding penalty.
His best catch of the day was an impressive diving snag on the 50-yard dime from Mac Jones. He originally stayed down in pain and seemed to favor his left leg, but quickly returned to action. Meyers continues to showcase his strong hands, quickness, and route running ability.
Winners: K Nick Folk & P Jake Bailey
It wasn't an extremely busy day for the New England specialists, but they certainly made their limited opportunities worthwhile. After conceding kicking duties to rookie Quinn Nordin on Tuesday, it was Folk’s turn on Wednesday. The veteran was solid as usual, going 3-for-3 in live action kicks.
As for Bailey, the All-Pro punter was putting on a show as usual. Working the coffin corner in his main period of work, Bailey had one punt land at the one-yard line before a stretch of three straight kicks all came to a halt within the 5-yard line — no gunners needed. Bailey looks as good as ever.