Once again, the New England Patriots hit the practice fields on Thursday — and each other. The team, after all, went back to a full-pads setup after spending Wednesday’s practice in shells and shorts.
Needless to say that the intensity increased, and so did the competition. Here are a few players that caught our eye for better or worse.
Winner: LB Josh Uche. Uche had a comparatively quiet start to training camp, but the former second-round draft pick has recently begun to hit his stride. He was at his best yet on Thursday, winning all three of his 1-on-1 matchups: Uche beat offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste twice and also was able to get past Yasir Durant. He also saw some starter-level reps on defense with fellow outside linebacker Matthew Judon absent.
Winner: C David Andrews. The Patriots’ starting center is not just increasing his workload after opening training camp on the physically unable to perform list, he also had some very good moments on Thursday. Those included 1-on-1 wins over defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Daniel Ekuale.
Winner: OT Justin Herron. Backup right tackle Justin Herron has had some ups and downs so far in training camp, but Thursday definitely falls into the first of those categories. He looked good throughout the day, with a clear win over Ronnie Perkins in 1-on-1s as his most notable moment.
Winner: WR Tre Nixon. The Patriots offense scored just one touchdown during its final 11-on-11 period in the red zone. That touchdown came courtesy of sophomore wide receiver Tre Nixon getting away from Malcolm Butler and catching a Mac Jones through near the back of the end zone. It was one of four catches Nixon had during team work; he also looked improved in 1-on-1s.
Winner: DT Davon Godchaux. The recently extended defensive tackle continues to show why the Patriots were comfortable investing in him. Godchaux recorded multiple tackles for loss and contributed to two stuffed runs during the final period of 11-on-11 work; the first was a co-production with Lawrence Guy, the latter him overpowering...
Loser: OL James Ferentz. Ferentz is still the number two center behind David Andrews, but he had a rough day on Wednesday. Not only did he allow Godchaux to help control the line of scrimmage several times, he also stood no chance against Christian Barmore and Daniel Ekuale in 1-on-1s. He also was called for a hold, although only by the media members watching the session.
Loser: CB Malcolm Butler. Malcolm Butler did return to practice after missing Wednesday’s session, but he had yet another uninspiring day. He was beat by Nixon on the aforementioned touchdown and in general allowed his assignments some space to operate with on a fairly regular basis.
Loser: LB Ronnie Perkins. Second-year edge linebacker Ronnie Perkins continues his inconsistent campaign this summer. Thursday was one of his worse days, with him losing his 1-on-1s against both Isaiah Wynn and Justin Herron and also not looking entirely comfortable during team work. At this point in time, Perkins projects as a depth option.
Other players worth mentioning include rookies Cole Strange, DaMarcus Mitchell and LyBryan Ray. Strange showed some improvement during 1-on-1s; Mitchell notched a would-be sack in team work; Ray was able to give Trent Brown some trouble.
The three youngsters and the rest of the team will be back to work on Friday. That session, however, will take place inside Gillette Stadium rather than on the practice fields.