The New England Patriots continue their preparations for the upcoming 2021 NFL season, as day two of mandatory minicamp takes place at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Tuesday.
While the status of cornerback Stephon Gilmore dominated the Monday news cycle, Tuesday’s session promises to be a bit more focused on the practice field. Still, there are some noteworthy items that will satiate the palate of Patriots fans, as the team prepares to take the field for their second day of minicamp practices.
Excuse me, Mr. Gilmore?
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spoke with the media Tuesday morning via video conference. Here are some highlights from that conversation:
When asked about whether Stephon Gilmore’s absence from minicamp was an excused absence, Belichick said: "I don't expect him to be here. we'll just focus on the guys that are here."
Jonnu Smith, Others “Day to Day?”
Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith reportedly injured his left hamstring in the middle of practice Monday and was unable to finish the session. When asked about his new tight end’s status, Belichick replied: “We’ll see how it goes,” further stating that the team has "6-10 guys who are day-to-day."
Smith was scheduled to speak with the media this afternoon, but has been removed from the schedule.
Cam is 'Way Ahead' of Last Year
Despite suffering a hand injury during an OTA practice session June 4, quarterback Cam Newton was back in action as a full participant Monday. Apparently, his progress is being met with the satisfaction of the Patriots coaching staff, including Belichick.
New England’s head coach offered the following when asked about Cam’s progress from last year to 2021: "Cam is way ahead of where he was last year, there's no question about that."
While several continue to note that Cam was not a member of the Patriots at this time last year (he signed his deal with New England in late June 2020), it is likely that Belichick was referring to Cam’s progress at the commencement of team activities in 2021, as opposed to a single date on a calendar.
Once again, Newton is expected to be a full participant in Tuesday’s practice.
Belichick on the 2021 Rookie Class:
While the 2020 NFL rookie class did not have the opportunity to take part in many offseason workout programs, such as rookie minicamp, OTAs, and mandatory minicamp, the 2021 class has been afforded that chance. As such, it is safe to say that this year's rookies should benefit from the extra time on the field with their teammates.
Belichick, however, was reticent to downplay the impact the lack of offseason work had on their 2020 counterparts, stating: “It’s all relative. The rookies (2021) are pretty much where we expect them to be at this time of year.... Last year was different, but it was tough for all teams. This year’s group continues to work hard and improve.”
More New Faces in Foxboro?
Belichick said that the team Monday would be hosting some players this week at the facility for team tryouts. According to multiple reports, two players were in Foxboro for tryouts yesterday.
While the names of the players have yet to be revealed, Belichick was asked if they will be signed. He replied: ‘They are still in the tryout process”
Mac Making Progress
Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones enjoyed a solid day on Monday. By all accounts, New England’s first-round draft selection looked sharp in both his decisiveness and accuracy. Jones attempted the same number of passes during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, finishing the day going 13-for-20.
When asked about Jones’ place on the Pats quarterback depth chart, Belichick said that Jones continues to move in the right direction: “(Mac) has the least amount of experience among them, but he is learning quickly and working hard at it”
Winovich’s Work Ethic
Patriots edge defender Chase Winovich unquestionably will be under the watchful eye of Patriots coaches, fans and media alike during this year’s training camp. The 26-year-old is entering his third year with the team and is expected to play a role in an improved Patriots pass rush.
When asked about what he has seen from Winovich in the workout programs so far, Belichick praised his work ethic, saying: “Chase was here for parts of it (OTA). He brings a high level of competitiveness, energy and work ethic. He continues to grow in the understanding of our system, and in technique. He does a lot to help the team.”
Belichick added that Winovich’s contributions come both on defense and special teams, specifically calling out his role in the kicking game.