The New England Patriots opened their second week of 2021 Training Camp with a little less conversation and a little more action. As head coach Bill Belichick had alluded to earlier in the day, the team entered the ‘next phase’ camp practices. With one day remaining until the pads are finally put on, the Pats amped up the competitive vibes heading into day five of their practices.
Here are some of Monday morning's highlights on yet another a beautiful summer day in New England:
Those veterans absent from Monday’s on-field action once again included QB Jarrett Stidham, CB Stephon Gilmore, TE Dalton Keene, LB Chase Winovich, DT Byron Cowart and LB Terez Hall. Each of these players is currently ineligible to practice, as they have been placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Rookies Joshuah Bledsoe (S) and Cameron McGrone (LB) remain on the non-football-injury (NFI) list.
For the fifth straight practice, linebacker Kyle Van Noy was present, but wearing a red non-contact jersey.
C Ted Karras was again absent, after having left Friday’s practice with a knee injury.
Quarterbacks ‘Pull us back in’
Both Cam Newton and Mac Jones continued to embrace the ebb and flow of quarterback play in camp, thus far. In the process, they reminded us that there is still room for some friendly competition between the Pats men under center.
While assigning the day's winner would essentially do a disservice to both players, Jones arguably turned in the offensive play of the day. The rookie delivered a beautiful 50-yard throw to wide receiver Isaiah Zuber, in between tight coverage by cornerbacks Dee Virgin and D’Angelo Ross. As expected, he received some extended looks on Monday. Jones looked sharp early, but struggled a bit against the starting unit, going 1-for-4 in the red zone. He finished the day completing 16 of 21 passes in 11-on-11 drills.
Newton continued to get starting reps on Monday. Though he had an average day as a passer, the Pats incumbent quarterback showed (on several snaps) that he is still a threat when utilizing his mobility as a runner. Newton struggled during the middle part of 11-on-11 drills, but would go on to finish the day completing 9 of 15 passes.
Wilkerson continues to impress
Each year, some under-the-radar players emerge as candidates to unexpectedly earn a roster spot. In 2021, one of those players appears to be wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson. The Pats 2020 pratic-squadder continued his early-camp momentum by reeling in two throws from Cam Newton, including a low pass at the goal line that was a bit behind him. Wilkerson also spent some time on special teams drills with veterans Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel on the side field. Throughout the past few days, Wilkerson has exhibited a blend of speed and field savvy that should earn him points in his quest to make the 53-man club.
While the offense typically gets the cheers from the crowd, the Patriots defense is quickly emerging as a unit that will be fun to watch in 2021. Enhanced in all three areas, New England’s defenders continue to show why they will be a disruptive force for opposing NFL offenses.
Some defensive highlights from Monday include:
- Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley intercepted a Cam Newton Pass in 7-on-7s, intended for receiver Jakobi Meyers. Newton’s pass over the middle looked to be a bit under thrown. However, Bentley displayed his athleticism by going airborne to make the leaping catch.
- Rookie DT Christian Barmore saw several snaps with the starting unit.
- Cornerback J.C. Jackson has had a consistent camp. On Monday he turned in another stellar performance. The Pats defensive back stopped Jakobi Meyers on an out on the goal line, and broke up a would-be touchdown to Mac Jones to Nelson Agholor in the back of the end zone.
Injury Watch: Henry Anderson
Defensive lineman Henry Anderson was slow to get up after taking a hard block to the shoulder on a screen play late in practice. Anderson spent the rest of the session on the sidelines, speaking with a trainer.
The Patriots will return to the practice fields (expectedly in pads) tomorrow, August 3 at 9:30am.