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3 things to watch on the third day of Patriots training camp

Pats Pulpit Training Camp Guide: Schedule, position battles, practical info, and more

NFL: JUL 28 New England Patriots Training Camp Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the third day in a row, the New England Patriots will hit the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Friday’s session projects to be more of the same, and as such a continuation of offseason workouts with no live tackling yet (that will be added on Monday).

Nonetheless, it will be an interesting day once more in Foxborough. Here is what we will be paying close attention to.

Offensive resilience

The Patriots defense stole the show late on Thursday by dominating an 11-on-11 red zone drill to close out practice. At one point, quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe threw 10 incomplete passes before a late touchdown to Hunter Henry broke the disappointing streak — a TD that forced the entire defense to do pushups.

What made the feat even more impressive was a) that the setup in itself usually favors the offense, and b) the defensive backs were wearing pads on their hands to prevent them from holding onto the pass catchers. Nonetheless, they were able to shut down the New England offense until the very last snap of the day.

The offense will be under some pressure on Friday to bounce back from that disappointing series.

Second-year linebackers

The Patriots’ linebacker competition will start heating up next week, when the pads finally come on. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see two members of the group see some action with the scout team unit on Thursday: sophomores Cameron McGrone and Ronnie Perkins found themselves on the wrong end of the depth chart at one point during practice No. 2.

That might not be a sign of things to come, after all there is still a lot of football to be played before any meaningful roster decisions will be made. Still, McGrone and Perkins entered their second season in New England with some promise. Them failing to at least earn regular rotational roles would be a disappointment.

Quarterback rep distribution

As noted above, Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe were the only quarterbacks participating in the late-practice goal line drill. Veteran Brian Hoyer, meanwhile, did not see any competitive reps on Thursday.

Will practice No. 3 be more of the same, or will Hoyer be able to jump ahead of Zappe on the daily depth chart again? It certainly is possible given that he is still expected to end up as QB2 behind Mac Jones, particularly with Zappe having plenty of ups and downs when under center thus far in camp.

As for yesterday’s things to watch, here are a few quick notes:

Day 1 standouts: Not all of the Day 1 standouts were equally active on Thursday, but two of them most definitely were: wide receiver DeVante Parker had another impressive session, while sophomore defensive back Joshuah Bledsoe continued to see plenty of opportunities and make the most of them.

Player rotations: The Patriots used the usual rotation across the board, leading to some such as undrafted rookie center Kody Russey or linebacker Jahlani Tavai seeing reps with the starter-level units. Meanwhile, two players again saw prominent snaps. Raekwon McMillan and Terrance Mitchell played starting roles at off-the-ball linebacker and outside cornerback, respectively.

Matt Patricia’s role: While Bill Belichick and Joe Judge are both actively involved with the offense as well, it appears Matt Patricia is the front runner to become the unit’s play caller this season. On Thursday, he again handled those duties while being spotted with a walkie-talkie to send in plays to the quarterbacks.