The New England Patriots took the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for their 13th session of the summer on Tuesday morning. As opposed to the first 12, however, this one saw the team compete with somebody else: the Carolina Panthers were in town for the first of two joint practices ahead of their preseason meeting.
A lot happened during the 2.5-hour practice. Here are the players that caught our eye while the action unfolded, for better or worse.
Winner: CB Jalen Mills. Mills had himself a very good day versus the Panthers. After being in near-lockdown mode in 1-on-1 drills — he allowed one catch on four targets — the second-year Patriot had an impressive outing during full-team work. He registered three pass-breakups during 11-on-11s and did not allow a completion when targeted. Mills also came close to registering a pair of interceptions on the day.
Winner: WR DeVante Parker. Parker’s ability in contested-catch situations showed up on Tuesday. The big-bodied wide receiver registered several such receptions down the sideline, including a 30ish-yarder that saw him out-jump the nearest defender. Parker’s size and ability to attack downfield adds an element to the New England offense it was missing last season.
Winner: LB Matthew Judon. Outside of his brief retreat off the field, Judon was one of the most active players during Tuesday’s session. One day after his 30th birthday, the Pro Bowler registered a stuffed run as well as two would-be sacks. The Panthers’ offensive line had its hands full, and Judon was one of the reasons why.
Winner: CB Marcus Jones. In his first action against another team — he did not play in the preseason opener last Thursday — rookie cornerback Marcus Jones was one of the best players on the field. The third-round pick again saw some reps with the starters from the slot, and additionally registered a pass-breakup while also looking good when it was his turn in 1-on-1s. Jones also served as a punt returner again.
Loser: TE Jonnu Smith. Smith has had a good training camp so far, but his performance on Tuesday was not up to par. The veteran tight end registered no catches on three 1-on-1 reps, and later had a reception knocked out of his hands in team drills. He also was the target on Mac Jones’ interception during the two-minute drill, although that appeared to be more of a Hail Mary-type play than anything else.
Losers: WR Kendrick Bourne, WR Kristian Wilkerson, OL James Ferentz. Bill Belichick follows a simple rule: you fight at practice, you’re out. Tuesday saw him apply it on two separate occasions, resulting in three of his players getting tossed. Wide receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Kendrick Bourne were the first to go after being involved in a bench-clearing altercation, with center James Ferentz joining them after an individual spat. On top of it all, Bourne also was on the receiving end of Belichick’s ire after a referee had sent him off the field for an apparent uniform violation.
Other players worth mentioning include Davon Godchaux, who generated a consistent push along the defensive line, and Myles Bryant, who was used as the top slot cornerback at one point in 11-on-11s as well as a punt returner. Shaun Wade registered an interception off a tipped ball. Meanwhile, Devin Asiasi had a pass knocked out of his hands on an apparent fumble.
The Patriots and Panthers will be back on the practice fields on Wednesday, with the session once again scheduled for 9:30 p.m. ET.