As the New England Patriots gear up for their first preseason game on Thursday against the Washington Football Team, the intensity was turned up on Sunday afternoon. A lot of physicality and competitive reps in 1-on-1s, 3-on-3s, 7-and-7s and 11-and-11s were the result, as the Patriots strapped on the pads for just the third time all training camp.
Welcome to today’s Patriots Training Camp Notebook.
Absentees: CB Stephon Gilmore (PUP), DT Bryon Cowart (PUP), QB Jarrett Stidham (PUP), LB Chase Winovich (PUP), TE Dalton Keene (IR), LB Cameron McGrone (NFI), S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI), LB Raekwon McMillan (IR), K Nick Folk, RB Brandon Bolden, S Adrian Colbert, DT Akeem Spence, CB Deangelo Ross, WR Nelson Agholor.
Returnees: DT Christian Barmore, G/C Ted Karras, TE Devin Asiasi
OT Jerald Hawkins: The recently signed offensive lineman left practice early with a trainer and did not return. His departure came shortly after he ran a penalty lap for a false start in a 1-on1 setting.
TE Hunter Henry: The tight end left practice early on Sunday with an apparent shoulder injury. He looked to get it tangled up blocking Anfernee Jennings early during the session.
LS Joe Cardona: New England’s long snapper was getting his hand looked at and left the field alongside Henry. Jonnu Smith got some work at long snapper in his absence, as did Deatrich Wise Jr.
C David Andrews: The Patriots captain appeared to injure his right snapping hand. He sat out the rest of the session on the sidelines after slamming his helmet in frustration.
Quarterbacks: Sunday’s practice saw Mac Jones dominate the reps in 11-on-11s. The first-round rookie was sharp once again and continues to stack good days together while showing a strong understanding of how to run the New England offense efficiently.
Jones’ best throw of the day came on a crossing route to Jakobi Meyers. It was a beautifully placed timing throw to the right sideline on play action where Meyers was able to make the catch in stride and keep both feet in bounds. Jones also was 5-for-6 versus the starting defense in 11-on-11 work.
Incumbent Cam Newton, meanwhile, had a light throwing day with Jones handling the majority of the passing reps in 11-on-11s. Newton was efficient, though, completing 11 of his 12 passes in and also having the throw of the day when he hit Kristian Wilkerson on a go route up the right sideline with Jalen Mills in tight coverage. Both Newton and Jones had good days on Sunday in a competitive, high intensity practice.
#Patriots QB’s on Day 10 of camp (both 7 and 11’s):— Ryan Spagnoli (@Ryan_Spags) August 8, 2021
Newton: 13/16, INT
Jones: 17/23, INT (drop by Gunner)
N’Keal Harry continues to pop: After his strong showing earlier this week, Harry continued to shine and dominate every drill. With Nelson Agholor missing practice for undisclosed reasons, Harry got an extended look and capitalized on his opportunity.
In 3-on-3s, he made three acrobatic, back-shoulder catches with Myles Bryant and Kyle Dugger in tight coverage. Moments later, he might have made the play of training camp so far. He toasted fellow third-year man Joejuan Williams on a stop and go route before hauling in a full extension, diving catch for a touchdown. The crowd went wild, while Cam Newton sprinted into the end zone to celebrate.
Almost two months after requesting to be traded out of New England, the 2019 first-rounder has certainly been on of the better and more consistent players on offense so far.
Christian Barmore and Carl Davis continue to win their reps: For the third time this summer we saw some 1-on-1s between offensive and defensive linemen, and both Christian Barmore and Carl Davis continued to dominate. Barmore had a decisive win against Shaq Mason, flashing his wide variety of pass rush moves and explosiveness off the ball. As for Davis, he has flown under the radar in terms of the front seven but has started to get some reps in team drills. He was 2-0 in his 1-on-1 with a couple of run stuffs in 11-on-11s.
Kristian Wilkerson balling: Like N’Keal Harry, Wilkerson stepped up today with Nelson Agholor out. The second-year receiver hauled in six catches through team drills, beating Jalen Mills and Michael Jackson regularly. Wilkerson started to get under the skin of Mills towards the end of team drills when the two had a scuffle before being broken up by teammates. Wilkerson has flashed in the opportunities he has received on offense as of late.
Hello Ryan, would you say Mac has taken the edge in the “competition” after the last few practices?— Red Sox and Patriots enjoyer (@SportsExpert16) August 8, 2021
Answer: It’s hard to tell exactly who has the upper hand in the quarterback competition at the moment. However, both Newton and Jones continue to push each other and have a healthy competition. As for Jones, he has seen an uptick in reps over the last few practices, especially with the starters. It will start to be a tell tale sign once the joint practices and the second and third preseason games happen to get a more clear idea on where each of them sits on the depth chart.
Any idea what’s going on with him?— Colton Carpenter (@ColtonDCarp) August 8, 2021
Answer: We do not yet know why Nelson Agholor was a no-show on Sunday after being a consistent presence on the practice fields during the first nine sessions of camp. It could be an excused absence from the team for all we know, but it will be worth monitoring if Agholor is present tomorrow. If not, players such as N’Keal Harry or Kristian Wilkerson will see increased reps again.