The New England Patriots were inside Gillette Stadium for the first time this summer - marking the first time they've taken the field with the construction in the north end zone. Despite the yearly in-stadium practice usually having a slower pace, the Patriots donned full pads during a team scrimmage situation. However, the pace was not full-speed ahead, as the team ran what appeared to be a jog-through practice - focusing on substitutions and other game day situations.
Absentees: RB Rhamondre Stevenson, TE Dalton Keene, LB Jahlani Tavai, LB Matthew Judon, S Jabrill Peppers, RB James White (PUP), OL Chasen Hines (NFI), OL Andrew Stueber (NFI)
Matthew Judon missed his second straight practice while Stevenson and Peppers remained out - the two were both present as they've been limited the past few days. After leaving Thursday’s practice early with what looked like a serious right leg injury, linebacker Jahlani Tavai was spotted on the sideline with a sleeve around that leg. Dalton Keene also remained out but was on the sideline.
The Teams: While we weren't able to take much off the play on the field with the absence of intensity, we did get an important look into how the team was split up. It appeared the first-team offense and defense were in blue with the rest in white. Here were the full rosters:
Blue (starters in bold):
QB - Mac Jones, Brian Hoyer
RB - Damien Harris, Ty Montgomery
WR - Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, DeVante Parker
TE - Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith
OL - Trent Brown, Cole Strange, David Andrews, Michael Onwenu, Isaiah Wynn, James Ferentz
DL - Christian Barmore, Davon Godchaux, Henry Anderson, Lawerence Guy
LB - Anfernee Jennings, Josh Uche, Mack Wilson Sr., Raekwon McMillan, Ja’Whaun Bentley
CB - Jalen Mills, Terrance Mitchell, Malcolm Butler, Jonathan Jones, Marcus Jones
S - Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Devin McCourty
Specialists - Nick Folk, Jake Bailey, Joe Cardona
QB - Bailey Zappe
RB - Kevin Harris, Pierre Strong, J.J. Taylor
WR - Tre Nixon, Josh Hammond, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Kristian Wilkerson, Tyquan Thornton
TE - Matt Skol, Devin Asiasi
OL - Bill Murray, Yasir Durant, Arlington Hambright, Drew Desjarlais, Yodney Cajuste, Kody Russey, Justin Herron, Will Sherman
DL - Deatrich Wise, Carl Davis, Daniel Ekuale, Sam Roberts, LaBryan Ray, DaMarcus Mitchell
LB - Cameron McGrone, Harvey Langi, Ronnie Perkins, Nate Wieland
CB - Myles Bryant, Jack Jones, Shaun Wade, Justin Bethel, Joejuan Williams
S - Joshuah Bledsoe, Brad Hawkins, Jalen Elliott, Brenden Schooler
Specialists - Tristan Vizcaino, Jake Julien
Looking into the two sides, it was the second straight day Anfernee Jennings got the call to replace the absent Matthew Judon. As for rookies, only two ran with the blue team - offensive guard Cole Strange and cornerback Marcus Jones. While Strange has been a day one lock at left guard, Jones looks like he as well could be an early contributor.
Coaches: As the two sides split, so did the coaching staff. While Bill Belichick hung out on the field observing, his assistants - and play calling duties - were divvied up. For the blue team, it was Matt Patricia and DeMarcus Covington hearing headsets and using walkie-talkies for the offense and defense respectively. Joe Judge and Steve Belichick handled their respective duties for the white team.
Ja’Whaun Bentley impresses: Through the white teams first offensive series, Ja’Whaun Bentley gave them all they could handle. Bentley broke up Zappe’s first pass from scrimmage while covering J.J. Taylor and would have blew the running back up several plays later on a run stuff. Bentley recorded another pass-breakup later on the drive. The Patriots seem to be using the veteran near the line of scrimmage more, perhaps trying to keep him out of these coverage situations, but Bentley was able to handle them Friday night.
12 personnel: Besides observing the roster split, getting a sense of the team’s personnel groupings was a key observation. As they have been throughout camp, there was a heavy dose of 12 personnel with Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The Patriots continue to mix-and-match there diverse group of wide receivers to play off of them.
Hoyer time: With the end of practice in sight, it was Hoyer time. Hoyer delivered a deep bomb (60ish yards) down the middle of the field for a score to DeVante Parker. Parker had a good burst and got behind Joejuan Williams. Soon after, Hoyer dropped a ball in the bucket to Kendrick Bourne up the right sideline for a touchdown.
- In one of the plays of the night, Malcolm Butler broke up a ball downfield from Bailey Zappe intended for tight end Matt Sokol. It was a strong read from the veteran corner. Butler was beat later in the end zone by Kristian Wilkerson.
- Nick Folk and Tristan Vizcaino were a combined 6-for-6.
- Josh Uche and Justin Herron got in scrap after a snap, the two were immediately kicked out.
- Nelson Agholor had a drop downfield which bounced in the air and was intercepted by Jalen Elliott.
- Myles Bryant muffed a punt from Jake Bailey.
The Patriots will have the weekend off before retreating to the back fields of Gillette Stadium Monday morning at 9:30 a.m.