FOXBORO — The New England Patriots proudly welcomed their fans back to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium for an in-stadium training camp practice on Friday evening.
It was the team’s ninth organized training camp practice in 2022. The event was open to season-ticket holders, members on the waiting list, and residents of Foxboro, Massachusetts.
While the team took the field wearing full pads, the evening’s action took place at slightly less-than half-speed, in a non-competitive game simulation.
Despite the lack of contact, there was still plenty of action on the field.
Safety Jabrill Peppers, linebacker Matthew Judon, running back Rhamondre Stevenson and tight end Dalton Keene did not participate in the night’s events.
Running back James White continues to be the only Patriot remaining on the PUP list, while rookie offensive linemen Chasen Hines and Andrew Stuber both remain on the NFI list.
Linebacker Jahlani Tavai was spotted on the sidelines, walking with a slight limp while wearing a compression sleeve on his lower right leg. Tavai exited practice during 11-on-11 team drills after suffering an apparent leg injury and did not return to the field.
Dividing Coaching Duties
With the two teams split by blue (projected starters) and white (backups) jerseys, the Patriots coaches also divided their duties for the night.
Bill Belichick, Jerod Mayo and Joe Judge are coaching Team White, while Matt Patricia and Steve Belichick took the primary coaching responsibilities for Team Blue.
Matt Patricia ran the offense for Team Blue with starting quarterback Mac Jones, while defensive line coach DeMarcus Covington called the defensive plays.
For Team White, Joe Judge ran the offense with rookie Bailey Zappe as his quarterback. Linebackers coach Steve Belichick called plays for the defense.
Linebacker JaWhaun Bentley was the night’s standout on Team Blue’s defensive front seven. Bentley contributed two pass break-ups on their first defensive stand, including one just outside the red zone. He also showcased his speed and agility to stop J.J. Taylor by easily finding his way into the backfield.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler flashed some of the positional savvy which made him a fan-favorite during his first tour of duty with the Patriots. In coverage on tight end Matt Sokol, Butler executed a switch release, breaking up Zappe’s pass downfield.
On a would-be two point conversion attempt, Jones was intercepted in the end zone by safety Joshuah Bledsoe. Jones’ throw, intended for tight end Jonnu Smith, was a rare miscue by the Pats starter. As a result, Bledsoe was able to make the jump on the ball, continuing an overall solid camp performance.
Quarterback Brian Hoyer delivered the ‘play of the night’ for Team Blue, by delivering a 60-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver DeVante Parker. Just a few plays later, he connected with wideout Kendrick Bourne on another long touchdown. Each pass drew a significant cheer from the Gillette Stadium crowd.
Following a touchdown catch for Team White, rookie Tyquan Thornton showed off his above-the-rim skills when he dunked the football over the bottom bar of the goal post.
Special Teams Spotlight:
Getting their first taste of competitive duties to date, kickers Nick Folk and Tristan Vizcaino each took turns splitting the uprights at Gillette Stadium. Folk connected from 43 and 33 yards respectively, while Vizcaino went 3-for-3 from 43, 33 and 33 yards.
Hybrid runner/receiver Ty Montgomery handled the kicking duties for Team Blue, while safety Kyle Dugger fielded punts. For Team White, receiver Tre Nixon and running back J.J.Taylor split kicking team duties kickoffs, with Myles Bryant on punts. Both Dugger and Bryant were each responsible for one muffed punt.
Shortly after the start of the second half, linebacker Josh Uche and offensive lineman Justin Herron became embroiled in a brief scuffle on the field. They were separated and sent off the field by their teammates and members of the coaching staff, before being banished to the locker room by head coach Bill Belichick.
Everybody, Pat Chung Tonight
Former Patriots safety Patrick Chung was a guest of the team on Friday, spending much of his team mingling on Team Blue’s sidelines. Chung was spotted listening in while DeMarcus Covington was calling defensive plays. During the night’s simulated halftime, Chung and Bill Belichick were seen providing pointers to the ex-Pat’s son as he attempted to catch punts from Jake Bailey.
The Patriots will return to the practice fields on Monday, Aug 8. 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.