Day 3 of New England Patriots training camp presented perhaps the most ideal environment imaginable; clear skies, warm weather, and much improved Patriots football.
After the first couple days' irregular weather and even more irregular play, the team seems to be approaching something resembling a rhythm, especially in the passing game.
Here are the most notable events from Day 3 of training camp:
Best Throw - Mac Jones' dropped deep ball to Nelson Agholor
One play after Cam Newton missed on a deep touch pass attempting to lead Agholor inside on a seam, Jones was able to launch a rainbow to Agholor on the exact same route. Though Agholor dropped the ball while attempting a contorting over-the-shoulder grab, Jones' decisiveness and ball placement stood out immediately as a promising sign of his potential.
Most Unique Play - J.J. Taylor catching punts with one hand while holding a football in the other
Though Taylor did drop a punt (and take the penalty lap around the field), he showed legitimately impressive coordination and control in the drill. Taylor is competing for a spot in a heavily crowded backfield alongside Sony Michel, Brandon Bolden, James White, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Tyler Gaffney.
With White slowing down with age, the spot for our next receiving back is wide open -- Taylor's special teams upside may prove to be a critical factor in him establishing himself as a long-term New England resident.
Best Offensive Player - Nelson Agholor (Honorable Mention: Gunner Olszewski)
After dropping today's Best Throw, Agholor made up by showing flashbacks of his 2020 season as an Oakland Raider. Agholor consistently gained separation and secured multiple scores, including a beautiful contested deep ball from Newton.
Olszewski, meanwhile, seems to be completing his transition as the next prototypical Patriots' slot receiver. One particular play that stood out was an excellent out route release against Jonathan Jones, one of the premiere nickel corners in the league, that instantly freed Olszewski for a touchdown catch from Jones.
Best Defensive Player - Kyle Dugger
Though Dugger showed immense promise in his rookie year in man coverage against tight ends, he still lost a fair number of repetitions and drew penalties. However, these can likely be attributed to his inexperience -- and it seems like Dugger has improved on the once-lacking aspect of his play.
Dugger finished the day with two pass breakups on excellent back-hip coverage, including one especially notable diving breakup on a drag route.
Dark Horse of the Day - Dee Virgin
Though the New England secondary is chock full of talent, Virgin had a solid rep against Agholor that caught many by surprise. Against an Agholor comeback route that, frankly, didn't seem poor, Virgin maintained a strong punch off the line and showed crafty corner play, subtly holding Agholor's back hip and lunging for a break-up.
Best Day - Kyle Dugger/Nelson Agholor
Jake Bailey of the Day Award - Jake Bailey
In perhaps the most shocking twist of the day, the Jake Bailey of the Day Award goes to Jake Bailey. During his last punt of practice, Bailey boomed the ball from the 20-yard-line to the opposite end zone on a diagonal. Being a punt, the play did not elicit much of a reaction from the crowd -- however, it may very well have been the most impressive feat of the last three days.