The New England Patriots’ 11th training camp practice was originally scheduled for 4 p.m. ET but an unfavorable weather forecast forced Bill Belichick to call an audible and move the session up. Practice starting at noon was not the only change of the day: the offense also finally showed some signs of life again.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at who caught our eye on Tuesday for better or worse.
Winners: Pierre Strong Jr. and the running game. New England’s running game was a major disappointment through the first few padded practices of camp. On Tuesday, however, the offense was finally able to generate some push and open up holes. Special mention goes to Pierre Strong Jr.: the fourth-round rookie had his best practice of the summer and appears to be on his way to leap-frogging J.J. Taylor on the depth chart; he showed promise hitting the hole and also stood his ground when asked to pass-protect.
Winner: OT Yodny Cajuste. With Isaiah Wynn missing the session due to an undisclosed injury, the Patriots turned to fourth-year man Yodny Cajuste to replace him at right tackle. The former third-round draft pick had a strong practice and was one of the reasons why New England’s ground game finally gained some traction; he also looked a lot better than the previous day’s Wynn replacement, Justin Herron.
Winner: CB Jack Jones. One of the biggest questions with rookie players is whether or not they can string positive days together. Jack Jones, a fourth-round draft pick out of Arizona State, is doing just that. After a good performance on Monday that saw him register an interception and two pass breakups, he again played some very solid football on Tuesday. Jones broke up another pair of passes while working primarily on the perimeter of the defense.
Winner: WR Tre Nixon. The Tre Nixon Hype Train is slowly picking up speed again. The second-year wide receiver did have a drop but also consistently found space in the short areas of the field and on underneath routes, ending the day with five catches in team drills. Nixon also participated on special teams, serving as one of the Patriots’ kickoff return options. All in all, a solid day for a player competing for a roster or practice squad spot.
Losers: C David Andrews and DT Christian Barmore. The session as a whole had been a chippy one but in the second 11-on-11 series between the starting offense and starting defense things boiled over. Center David Andrews and defensive tackle Christian Barmore wrestled each other to the ground, resulting in both sidelines clearing. The two men at the center of it all were then kicked out of practice, with Barmore leaving for the locker room and Andrews doing some conditioning work away from the rest of the team.
Other players worth mentioning include wide receivers DeVante Parker and Lil’Jordan Humphrey; the former had arguably the reception of the day when he out-leapt cornerback Jonathan Jones; the latter caught six passes in team drills while working primarily with the third-stringers. On the other end of the spectrum were Kendrick Bourne, who was again relatively quiet, and Kristian Wilkerson (drop plus pass-breakup).
The Patriots will return to the practice fields on Wednesday, but neither fans nor media are allowed to follow the session. The team will then host the New York Giants on Thursday night for both clubs’ preseason opener.