clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

3 things to watch during the Patriots’ first joint practice with the Carolina Panthers

Related: Patriots will use joint practices with the Panthers as a ‘gauge to see where we are’

New England Patriots Training Camp Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

After working out on their own for the first three weeks of training camp, the New England Patriots will welcome another team to the fields behind Gillette Stadium: the Carolina Panthers are in town for a set of joint practices.

The two teams will obviously face off in the preseason on Friday night, but they will also share the practice fields on two occasions leading up to that game. The first of those will take place on Tuesday morning, and here are three things we will keep a close eye on.

Mac Jones versus another defense: The Patriots’ starting quarterback has had a relatively quiet training camp so far while trying to lead the team’s new-look offense. While Jones showed some good chemistry with players such as DeVante Parker and Jonnu Smith, a leaky offensive line has put him under considerable pressure.

Things will not get easier against the Panthers and their talented defensive line. Will he be up to the task? We’ll see, but the sessions starting on Tuesday will give New England’s QB1 and the rest of the starters on this side of the ball an opportunity to go up against another opponent for once.

New England’s offensive line: As noted above, the Patriots’ starting offensive line has had its issues this training camp while incorporating more zone blocking. Now going up against a Panthers D-line that features some impressive talent it will face a major test. Some improvement compared to the last two weeks will be crucial to allow Jones and his pass catchers to get into a rhythm.

Of course, Tuesday will also see the starting offensive line in action for the first time against another opponent. Just like Mac Jones and the rest of the starters, most of the unit — Trent Brown, David Andrews, Michael Onwenu, Isaiah Wynn (i.e. everybody but rookie Cole Strange) — sat out the preseason opener versus the New York Giants last week.

1-on-1 drills: One of the most entertaining part of joint practices is the 1-on-1 battles between linemen as well as receivers and defensive backs. One player to watch in particular is second-year defensive tackle Christian Barmore: the former second-round draft pick was a menace in 1-on-1s earlier in camp, and it will be interesting to see whether he can make life tough on the Panthers’ blockers as well.

Additional players worth keeping an eye on are wide receiver DeVante Parker, cornerbacks Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, and rookie guard Cole Strange.

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

The blocking schemes: Monday’s practice was a relatively light affair compared to what will follow on Tuesday and Wednesday, but we did get another look at the team’s new-look offense. A heavy dose of run-pass option plays was called out of zone- and man-blocking looks.

Attendance: Seven players were not spotted during Monday’s practice: OT Isaiah Wynn, OL Bill Murray, OT Justin Herron, CB Malcolm Butler, CB Joejuan Williams, DB Cody Davis and OL Andrew Stueber (NFI). Williams will reportedly miss the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury he sustained during the preseason opener.

Marcus Jones and Ty Montgomery: After not seeing any action in the preseason game against the Giants last week, Marcus Jones again helped man the slot as part of the current top-three cornerback group alongside outside options Jalen Mills and Jonathan Jones. Montgomery, who also spent last Thursday night on the sidelines continues to be the number three running back behind Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson as well as a member of the kickoff returns group.