FOXBORO — With the first two days of padded practices in the books, the New England Patriots took more ‘back to basics’ approach on Wednesday. Priori to the start of the morning’s practice, coach Bill Belichick said that the team’s focus would be on fixing mistakes from both Monday and Tuesday. .
In light of the team abandoning the pads in favor of shells, here are some of the highlights of New England seventh day of 2022 training camp practices in Foxboro.
Following a four-day absence, quarterback Brian Hoyer returned to the practice fields, yet was limited in his participation.
Defensive back Jabrill Peppers was absent, as was tight end Dalton Keene. While Keene also missed Tuesday’s practice, Peppers was a first time absentee. The veteran Safety he physically unable to perform (PUP) list on Monday.
Running back James White continues to be the only Patriot remaining on the PUP list.
In addition to Hoyer, safety Devin McCourty, running back Rhamondre Stevenson, cornerback Malcolm Butler, defensive lineman Deatrich Wise and receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey were limited participants.
Rookie offensive linemen Chasen Hines and Andrew Stuber both remain on the NFI (non-football injury) list.
At the conclusion of Tuesday’s practice, starting quarterback Mac Jones likened a subpar practice performance to a ‘shot in the heart.’ Needless to say, New England’s second-year signal caller has been frustrated with his performance, as well as that of his unit. With the pads off, Jones placed an emphasis on accuracy and mechanics; both of which looked to be more sound than earlier in the week. He finished completing 9-of-12 passes with an interception in 11-on-11 drills. Jones’ picked pass was intended for receiver DeVante Parker, who opened the door for cornerback Terrance Mitchell to easily snag Jones’ overthrow when the wideout stopped his route. Prior to the interception, Jones has completed 13 straight passes, going a perfect 6-for-6 in 7-on7s.
Despite the lighter workload, rookie Bailey Zappe continues to get notable reps as the team’s second option at the position. He finished the day completing 13 of 18 passes in 11-on-11s, and 5-of-6 in in 7-on-7 drills.
Devoid of pads, it is difficult to get a read on the effectiveness of a team’s defensive front seven. However, New England’s pass rushers continued to generate pressure on the quarterbacks. Linebackers Matthew Judon, Mack Wilson, (undrafted rookie) LaBryan Ray, and defensive lineman Jeremiah Pharms Jr. all registered would-be sacks during team drills.
The ‘Ty’ That Binds:
With James White having begun camp on the PUP list, the Pats have been searching for a player to take extra reps as both a runner and receiver. Free agent acquisition Ty Montgomery has not only stepped up to the plate in that regard, he has turned some heads doing it.
During Wednesday’s practice, Montgomery took seven snaps, both as a running back and a backfield receiver.
Despite coming off a statistically underwhelming season in 2021, the Patriots clearly view Montgomery as a solid contributor as a reserve option on offense. He should be expected to settle into an offensive option on third-down, as well as a backfield receiver. At his best, he can provide solid contributions as a hybrid receiver/running back and kick returner, as well. His special teams acumen may help his case, as he took 48% of the Saints’ snaps a year ago, both as a kick returner and on coverage teams. Throughout the past week, he has worked with each of the aforementioned special teams units.
Though White is expected back before the end of training camp, Montgomery's addition could, instead, help to mitigate the losses of running back Brandon Bolden and fullback Jakob Johnson, who both signed with the Las Vegas Raiders. Both Bolden and Johnson were regular contributors both on offense, and special teams. While it may be early, Montgomery is making a strong case to earn a spot on the Pats’ 53-man roster for 2022.
The Patriots will return to the practice fields on Thursday for their eighth training camp practice of 2022.
Practice is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be open to the public. Gates are set to open at 8 a.m.