The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Monday for their fifth training camp practice and first in full pads. The session was an energetic and busy one, so let’s dive straight in and clean out the notebook.
Jerod Mayo is not worried about his job title. When the Patriots announced their coaching staff ahead of training camp, a few changes compared to 2021 stood out. One of those was Jerod Mayo no longer being listed as inside linebackers coach but rather simply as linebackers coach (the same title carried by former outside linebackers coach Steve Belichick).
What does it mean? According to Mayo himself, little.
“We pretty much still do the same thing. Maybe I got demoted. I don’t know,” he said with a smile.
Mayo, however, is not worried about his job title. Instead, his focus lies on doing his job no matter the label he is carrying.
“It doesn’t affect me,” he said. “I just like to coach football. It doesn’t matter who I’m coaching. I just like to develop players and help those guys get to where they want to be. … Behind the scenes, we have everything kind of locked down how we want to do it.”
Isaiah Wynn won’t comment on his position change. One of the most notable developments this offseason was starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn being moved to the right end of the offensive line. In turn, Trent Brown made the move into the opposite direction.
On Monday, Wynn spoke with reporters for the first time this summer. Needless to say, he was in no mood to go into any details about his new spot along the O-line (as transcribed by NESN’s Dakota Randall):
Q: “Have they told you why they changed your position?”
Wynn: “It ain’t got nothin’ to do with me. I’m wherever they need me to be.”
Q: “So, they haven’t explained it to you?”
Wynn: “I’m wherever they need me to be.”
Q: “I get that … I’m just wondering if they’ve given any…”
Wynn: “I’m wherever they need me to be.”
Wynn: “You want me to repeat it again?”
Q: “Well you’re not really answering the question.”
Wynn: “Yeah, but, you know, it’s my answer. So, you’ve got to take it, you know? Got you.”
Wynn did see some action at left tackle throughout camp, but mostly with the second unit. From this vantage point, it appears the Patriots are using him as their number one right tackle but also want to keep him in shape as their potential LT2 in case Brown should be forced to miss time in-season.
Mike Pellegrino likes what he is seeing from the Patriots’ cornerback group. Ever since he started coaching New England’s cornerback group in 2019, Mike Pellegrino has had a clear No. 1 player to work with at the position. His first two years, it was Stephon Gilmore; last season, it was eventual Pro Bowler J.C. Jackson.
Heading into 2022, however, no such player can be found on the Patriots’ roster — at least on paper. Pellegrino does not appeared to worried about any this, though, and instead praised the group as a whole for its competitiveness.
“I’m extremely happy with the competitiveness of our group,” the 29-year-old said. “The wide receivers and the DBs have been fighting day-in and day-out with one another, and it’s been great. Rising tides raise all ships, so, competition makes everybody better. ...
“The whole group, I can’t stress enough, has been amazing. This has been one of my favorite years coaching because every day everyone’s 100 percent bought-in and having a great time out there on the field and competing with one another. It’s fantastic. Love it.”
Five practices into camp, Jalen Mills and free agency addition Terrance Mitchell appear to be the top duo on the outside with a mix of recently returning Jonathan Jones, Shaun Wade and rookie Marcus Jones in the slot.
DeVante Parker talks his battles with Malcolm Butler. Speaking of wide receiver-cornerback battles, one of the most prominent on Monday was fought between DeVante Parker and Malcolm Butler. The two veterans squared off several times, with both having some positive reps.
“It’s great going against him,” Parker said afterwards. “He’s also a veteran guy. It’s good. We’re competing against each other, getting each other better.”
Parker, an offseason trade acquisition, has looked good in his first training camp in New England. His chemistry with quarterback Mac Jones in particular has been encouraging.
“I’d say it’s going pretty well,” he said. “Always something to work on, but right now it’s pretty good.”
Joe Judge: Mac Jones ‘has an ability to hear something and conceptualize it pretty fast.’ With Josh McDaniels now in Las Vegas, the Patriots have turned to Joe Judge to serve as their quarterbacks coach. The long-time special teams coordinator is therefore working closely with Mac Jones, and more qualified than most people to speak about the sophomore passer.
One thing Judge mentioned during his media availability on Monday was Jones’ ability to process information quickly.
“Some guys are more visual learners or more auditory, where you can sit there and almost just describe it and they are good. A lot of guys have to get on their feet and do it. Mac has an ability to do all three,” Judge said.
“He has an ability to hear something and conceptualize it pretty fast. He has the ability to see an example and understand how it is going to play out in different situations. One thing that is very good, he applies his experiences [in] walkthrough, practice. You can see he corrects and adjusts and corrects issues before they become an issue pre-snap. That has been good to watch.”
Jones is coming off a solid rookie season and is now in line to make the famous second-year jump, something head coach Bill Belichick also mentioned later on Monday.
Bill Belichick adds more context to his Mac Jones praise. Before training camp was kicked off, Belichick sang Mac Jones’ praises, noting that he has displayed “dramatic improvement” heading into Year 2. Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, he added more context to those remarks.
“I think that’s really true for almost all players in their second year, and he certainly falls in that category,” he said about the improvement shown by Jones since his rookie campaign came to an end. “Players that go from Year 1 to Year 2, they have a much better understanding of what they need to do.
“They’ve made their physical improvements from the year before. They understand what we do a lot better, they understand what the opponents do a lot better, and they understand the National Football League. All that is great for anybody. ... I wouldn’t characterize it as any meteoric rise. It’s a natural progression that most all players make, and I would say he’s made it.”