The day has finally arrived: the New England Patriots will put on full pads for the first time all summer today, holding their first “real football” practice since the 2020 season came to an end. Needless to say that Tuesday’s session will therefore see an uptick in physicality compared to the first five practices held either in helmets or helmets and shells.
With that said, here are three things we will keep an eye on.
Running back performance
With full pads finally coming on, the Patriots’ running backs will be able to showcase their talents outside of the receiving game for a first time. While every running back on the roster will be under the spotlight, the three backs competing for the early-down role are worth keeping a special eye on: Damien Harris, Sony Michel and Rhamondre Stevenson.
The trio is expected to see plenty of action on Tuesday, with the Patriots traditionally focusing on running schemes on the first day of camp. While an early frontrunner will likely not emerge just yet, the session will give us a chance to see Harris, Michel and Stevenson in a real competitive setting for the first time.
Offensive linemen and defensive linemen going at each other. Wide receiver trying to shake free against press coverage. Running backs attempting to pass protect versus blitzing linebackers. There will be a lot of one-on-one competition going on on Tuesday, and it will be fascinating to watch who will look good at this early in the process.
Roster spots will not be won or lost today, but some early moment can be built. That is especially true for players on the roster bubble at all these positions mentioned above.
The Patriots have had only two injuries thus far in camp, and neither is expected to be of the major variety: offensive lineman Ted Karras went down last week; defensive lineman Henry Anderson was shaken up on Monday. When it comes to their teammates, they will be kept a close eye on from a medical perspective.
With intensity and physicality increasing on Tuesday, so could the number of injuries. Hopefully, the Patriots will be able to make it through the day without any major issues. However, nothing can be ruled out given the nature of the game.
As for yesterday’s things to watch, here are a few quick notes:
Offensive performance versus the starting defense: The Patriots’ offense had its ups and downs versus the starting defense on Saturday, and it was more of the same on Monday. Nonetheless, there were some encouraging moments with Mac Jones completing 6 of 10 passes versus the starters. Cam Newton, meanwhile, went 6-for-11 during 11-on-11 work versus the first-team D.
Practice intensity: With the full-pads portion of training camp on the horizon, the Patriots — as expected — had a comparatively light practice on Monday. There were plenty of noteworthy moments, but the overall intensity was not on the same level it will be at other points this week.
Quinn Nordin’s workload: After seeing considerable action to close out Saturday’s practice, Quinn Nordin had a quiet day again on Monday. The undrafted rookie kicker had to watch from the sidelines as incumbent Nick Folk went a perfect 4-for-4 on field goal attempts to close out practice. Folk split the uprights from 33, 40, 43 and 47 yards out while showing everybody that he is still the favorite to earn a spot on the roster.