For the second time in as many days, the New England Patriots hosted the New York Giants for the second of two joint practices on Thursday, August 26. The session, shorter than that of its Wednesday predecessor, was a bit lighter on intensity. Still, there was plenty of action, as the two teams prepared to face off in East Rutherford, New Jersey for their third and final preseason tilt of 2021. Once again, battling sweltering summer temperatures, the Pats and Giants took to the practice field adjacent to Gillette Stadium for another solid day of work for both clubs.
Here are some of the highlights from Thursday's joint-practice session:
CB Justin Bethel, WR N'Keal Harry, TE Matt LaCosse, TE Kahale Warring and DL Nick Thurman were absent from Thursday’s practice.
CB Stephon Gilmore, QB Jarrett Stidham, DL Byron Cowart and LB Terez Hall remain on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list.
Rookies LB Cameron McGrone and S Joshuah Bledsoe still continue to be listed on the non-football-injury (NFI) list, and thus were also absent from practice.
RB Brandon Bolden, CB Myles Bryant and TE Hunter Henry were present, all wearing red, non-contact jerseys.
LB Josh Uche, WR Tre Nixon returned to practice, after being absent for Wednesday's session. OL Isaiah Wynn and WR Nelson Agholor were back on the field after leaving Wednesday’s practice before its conclusion.
Cam Comes Back
After missing the previous three days of Patriots practices, quarterback Cam Newton returned to the field on Thursday. The 32-year-old put in a solid day of work, in limited snaps. In what was a more measured version of a scrimmage, he went 4-of-6 on his first 11-on-11 drill. Newton was nearly intercepted by Giants cornerback James Bradberry on a pass intended for receiver Kristian Wilkerson. Running back Damien Harris finished the drive with a score. While the Pats incumbent QB had his share of ups and downs, he showed little signs of rust from his absence; continuing to look sharp and in control under center. Newton concluded the day completing 6-of-9 passes.
Jones Has an “Up and Down” Thursday
While Jones was lauded for his performance on Wednesday (and, rightfully so), the rookie struggled a bit more on the second day of joint practices. Though he was the victim of three drops on catchable passes, he did make impressive completions when needed; including three fourth-down conversions. The 22-year-old was nearly picked off by Giants safety Xavier McKinney, who made a solid read of Jones’ first throw during 11-on-11 drills. On the next play, former Patriot Logan Ryan intercepted a pass intended for tight end Jonnu Smith. Though the Giants defense was called for an offside penalty (negating the pick) Ryan deserves credit for making a great play on a bad decision by Jones. To his credit, he rebounded nicely, completing the drive with a touchdown throw to Kendrick Bourne, who made an incredibly athletic catch in the back of the end zone. Jones then found receiver Jakobi Meyers for the 2-point conversion. The rookie would finish the afternoon completing 11-of-24 passes.
Drop It Like It’s Hot
While the oppressive heat was definitely a factor on the field, the Patriots pass catchers were clearly suffering a case of the ‘drops’ on Thursday. Tight end Jonnu Smith, receiver Gunner Olszewski and running back Damien Harris all dropped near-certain completions from Mac Jones; all on the same, rather sloppy drive by the Pats. Nelson Agholor also had what ‘might be’ described as a questionable drop, as the pass could have easily been credited as a break-up.
Uche Has a Day
Having missed Wednesday’s joint practice session, linebacker Josh Uche returned to the field in a big way on Thursday. The second-year pass rusher from Michiagn had three sacks and held up well in coverage against the Giants offense. Uche also drew a holding call in a solid day of work, overall.
While Uche may have got the ‘game ball’ for his defensive performance on Thursday, linebacker Kyle Van Noy was solid as well, contributing two sacks. Fellow linebacker Matt Judon and safety Devin McCourty also pitched in with a sack each.
McCourty was also effective in pass coverage, intercepting a deep pass from Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.
New England’s defense surrendered their first long play of their joint practices with the Giants on Thursday. What appeared to be busted coverage between cornerback J.C. Jackson and safety Adrian Phillips led to a significant gain from Daniel Jones to receiver Dante Pettis.
Injury Watch, David Andrews, Jonathan Jones
Center David Andrews left practice early, and did not return to action on the field. CB Jonathan Jones also exited the practice field, after suffering what appeared to be a lower leg injury.
Following an expected light day of practice on Friday, the Patriots will travel to the Meadowlands. On Sunday (August 29) New England will take on the New York Giants at 6:00pm ET from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for their third and final preseason game of 2021.