FOXBORO — With one week remaining before hosting their first preseason game of 2022, the New England Patriots continue their preparations on the practice field adjacent to Gillette Stadium.
The Pats once again donned the pads for a day of productive team drills on both sides of the ball, yielding a mix of highs and lows. From potentially losing a key depth piece within their linebackers corps due to injury, to the annual running of the rookie ‘slip-n-slide,’ here are some of the highlights from the Pats’ eighth training camp practice on a hot summer day in Foxboro.
Linebacker Matthew Judon and tight end Dalton Keene were absent from Thursday’s practice. It was Judon’s first missed practice of training camp, thus far, while Keene was a non-attendant for the third straight day.
Defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. was present, but limited in his participation.
After being limited in their participation on Wednesday, safeties Devin McCourty and Jabrill Peppers, quarterback Brian Hoyer, receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey and running back Pierre Strong were full participants.
Running back James White continues to be the only Patriot remaining on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. White, however, was spotted doing conditioning work .
Rookie offensive linemen Chasen Hines and Andrew Stuber both remain on the NFI (non-football injury) list.
Linebacker Jahlani Tavai exited practice during 11-on-11 team drills after suffering an apparent leg injury and did not return to the field.
While the offense, as a whole, has struggled throughout camp,starting quarterback Mac Jones has continued to maintain his accuracy throughout camp. While Jones threw five incompletions, they were the results of drops (two), throw aways (two, due to an aggressive pass rush) and a miscommunication. The Alabama product finished the day completing 14-of-19 in 11-on-11 drills, and a perfect 3-of-3 in 7-on-7s.
Rookie Bailey Zappe continued to take reps with the second team, completing 1-of-5 in 11-on-11s and 4-of-4 in 7-on-7s.
Veteran Brian Hoyer was a full participant in practice, but did not attempt a pass during 11-on-11 drills. Hoyer completed 2-of-4 pass attempts in 7-on-7s.
Uche Comes Alive:
Despite a slow start to training camp, linebacker Josh Uche turned in a solid performance in one-on-one pass rush drills. Uche won all three of his battles with his offensive line counterparts. The Michigan product has the speed, athleticism and system savvy to be a factor in the Patriots defense as an edge rusher or an off-the-ball linebacker. While it remains to be seen whether he will be used as a pass rush specialist or a true every-down move linebacker, he has the skillset to play on the line in the Patriots’ 5-1 looks as well as their 4-2 and 4-3 alignments and also move back if they run a more traditional 3-4. Uche may have come to life on Thursday. However, he must keep his foot on the accelerator to solidify his spot on the depth chart.
With his recent contract extension keeping him in Foxboro for the foreseeable future, defensive tackle Davon Godchaux seems poised to remain a key component of the Pats defensive line in the upcoming season — and he is putting in the necessary work to do so. He showcased his strength and mobility during Thursday’s practice; contributing several run stuffs and additional tackles for loss.
Godchaux is at his best when playing more four-technique, while mixing in some five and even three, as well. Should he be called upon to take on the double team, it will provide the Pats linebackers and edge rushers the chance to keep opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable. This should allow the interior of the defensive line to competently defend opposing running games, while also allowing Godchaux the chance to showcase his versatility.
Have a Day, Tre
After a standout performance during mandatory minicamp, second-year receiver Tre Nixon’s performance has significantly cooled during the first week of training camp. However, Nixon bounced back on Thursday, making a pair of impressive catches from Jones and Zappe respectively. Zappe and Nixon were about to connect on another eye-pleasing grab when the rookie’s pass bounced through the receiver’s hands.
The Patriots will conclude the week by holding their annual in-stadium practice for season-ticket holders and Foxboro residents on Friday evening at 7 p.m. at Gillette Stadium.