After taking Saturday off the Patriots went back to work Sunday afternoon under cloudy skies and humid conditions in Foxborough. When we last saw the offense Friday night inside Gillette Stadium, the ball rarely hit the ground while both Cam Newton and Mac Jones enjoyed success under laid-back conditions and a very slow tempo.
Things weren't quite the same on Sunday, particularly during a late 7-on-7 period when both were intercepted. Newton started things and after jamming one into Jakobi Meyers in tight coverage, he tries to do it again and Devin McCourty stepped in front for the pick.
When it was Jones' turn, he similarly completed a short pass in tight coverage before trying to hit Marvin Hall, only to have Michael Jackson step in for the interception.
Shortly thereafter when the full team came together for 11-on-11 work both quarterbacks heated up. Newton found Kristian Wilkerson deep down the sideline behind Jalen Mills for a huge gain, then came back to Kendrick Bourne for a nice connection on a slant on the next play. Jones similarly got hot, connecting with Wilkerson twice and Bourne before getting some screen work in with the backs.
Continuing a trend that started late last week, Jones took more reps than Newton as the segment progressed. He continued his hot and cold day by having consecutive passes defended by Dee Virgin and Jackson. Jackson's came on a deep ball to Wilkerson that the receiver seemed to have a step but was able to make up the ground with the ball in the air.
Newton returned in the red zone and mixed some runs and throws in situational work. After calling a timeout, Newton executed a nice play action and hit Matt LaCosse for a wide open touchdown in the flat. J.C. Jackson did a nice job to prevent a touchdown on Jones' fade to Wilkerson in the end zone after Newton left.
On third-and-goal from the 3 to close things, Sony Michel was stopped shy of the goal line.
With the pads back on there was plenty of contact during the two-plus hour practice with a heavy emphasis in the running game. Lots of banging up front and even some full tackling to the ground at times in what was the most physical practice thus far.
Beyond the quarterbacks, here are one man's impressions of Day 10 of Patriots training camp.
*There was substantial movement on the Patriots roster over the weekend, starting with some unfortunate news. Raekwon McMillan and Dalton Keene were placed on injured reserve and are out for the season. McMillan reportedly tore his ACLon Tuesday and hadn't been at practice since. It's an unfortunate turn of events for the veteran linebacker who was making strides in his effort to earn a roster spot this summer. Keene had been on PUP since the start of camp, but now a return is out barring an injury settlement with the team, which seems unlikely given the timing of the move. In a corresponding move, the Patriots signed linebacker Cassh Maluia, who was with the team in 2020 for most of his rookie season, seeing the bulk of his action on special teams.
*On the positive side, Devin Asiasi was removed from the COVID-reserve list and was cleared to return. He was in uniform and took part in Sunday's practice. That leaves five players in PUP (Jarrett Stidham, Stephon Gilmore, Chase Winovich, Terez Hall, Byron Cowart) and two on NFI (Cameron McGrone, Joshuah Bledsoe) who have yet to practice. Reports indicated that Winovich had resumed running and was nearing a return. Stidham was on the field for the first time this summer. He walked out with Steve Belichick before practice and spent time with his fellow quarterbacks. Stidham also celebrated his 25th birthday on Sunday.
*The Patriots got some personnel back on the field on Sunday. In addition to Asiasi, Ted Karras, Christian Barmore and Devin Ross all returned after missing time last week. Unfortunately, the team was without a half dozen player as well, including Nick Folk, Nelson Agholor, Brandon Bolden, Adrian Colbert, D'Angelo Ross and Akeem Spence. *Agholor did not take part in a late-practice two-minute drill Friday night inside Gillette Stadium and missed his first practice of the summer. Spence missed his fourth straight workout but was out on the field with his helmet on well before any of his teammates, working through drills against tackling dummies with director of skill development Joe Kim. Folk and Ross missed practice for the third straight time while Bolden and Colbert missed their second straight. Also, Kyle Van Noy was in his normal blue No. 53 jersey after wearing red through the early days of camp.
*As has been the case in recent days, Dee Virgin and Kristian Wilkerson spent time with Matthew Slater and Justin Bethel during position drills. Both seem to be getting groomed for special teams work down the road.
*An array of gospel music permeated the opening portion of practice. It was a stark departure from the normal hip hop/rap selections that are normally played.
*There was a heavy emphasis on the run game early, first with drills featuring exterior blocking with tight ends taking on outside linebackers. Jonnu Smith did a nice job against Josh Uche before Anfernee Jennings got the better of Hunter Henry. On the other end of the field, the interior offensive line worked against the defensive tackles. Shortly after the sides broke into 9-on-7s with Mac Jones handling the quarterbacking while Cam Newton was on the opposite field throwing in 3-on-3s with the receivers. Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor turned in productive runs during the period. Jones later came to throw with Newton and hit N'Keal Harry on a deep ball down the right sideline.
*Harry had an opportunity to slide up the depth chart with Agholor out. Before getting that chance, he made a terrific move to shake Joejuan Williams and then made a nice diving catch in the end zone on a deep ball from Newton. Harry had a step during an 11-on-11 rep later in practice but Newton's deep ball was long. Unfortunately, he spent time with the training staff and received some stretching but was able to remain on the field in the lineup. Wilkerson actually seemed to make the most of Agholor's absence, making several catches during the practice.
*Lots of 1-on-1 reps between the offensive and defensive linemen. The offense seemed to control most of the play with Isaiah Wynn in particular standing out. He contained Deatrich Wise effectively, and Marcus Martin turned in strong work against Barmore.
*The punt team got some work on the opposite field with Cody Davis and Adrian Phillips serving as the personal protectors for Jake Bailey. Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers, Marvin Hall, Devin Ross and J.J. Taylor handled Bailey's kicks. Many of the special teams players ran a lap at the end of that period.
*The first team period featured three plays starting at the 10. A pair of Damien Harris runs netted 5 yards, but Newton was sacked on third down and the entire offense was sent running. When play resumed the ball was at the 50 and Newton took the first three reps before giving way to Jones. Those plays consisted of mostly runs with some play action dump offs sprinkled in. Jones was able to connect with Meyers on a deep cross of one of those play actions. Jones then connected with Jonnu Smith for another nice pickup off play action to close out that segment.
*A few players left the fields before practice ended, most notably Henry. He joined Joe Cardona walking down the backside of the fields with about 35 minutes left in the workout. He appeared to get shaken up during a rep and spent some time with the trainers before leaving. He seemed to be favoring his shoulder after the 1-on-1 rep against Jennings and perhaps that was the reason for his departure. That came after offensive lineman Jerald Hawkins left shortly after running a lap for a false start penalty during the 1-on-1s.
*With Cardona gone Jonnu Smith handled the long snaps during the second punting period. Last week it was Wise handling the backup long snapping duties but on Sunday it was Smith, who one-hopped Bailey with one his snaps. Wise handled those duties when Quinn Nordin booted some field goals to close practice. Bailey attempted the final three field goals but had the first two blocked (by Cody Davis and Matt Judon) before lining one wide left. Judon's block came after a high snap that Olszewski did a nice job just to get down as the fill-in holder.
*Mills and Wilkerson tangled up late in practice and had to be separated by teammates. It came near the end of the most physical practice of the summer thus far, so it's understandable that tempers may have been a bit short.
*Henry Anderson, Justin Bethel, Carl Davis, N'Keal Harry, Harvey Langi and Matthew Slater all spoke to the media after practice.
*The Patriots will get back to work on Monday with another afternoon practice in Foxborough. Gates will open to the public at 2:30 p.m. with practice set to begin at 3:30 p.m. The team also announced there will be just four more days of public access to camp. In addition to Monday, fans will be allowed on Tuesday, August 10, for an in-stadium practice that begins at 3:30 p.m. The two joint practices with the Giants on August 25 and 26 also will be open to the public, time TBA.
Check out photos as the Patriots begin their third week of Training Camp on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021.