The Patriots are set to open the preseason Thursday night when they host Washington. Prior to practice Bill Belichick was asked about the importance of getting his regulars ready for game action given the newly shortened three-game slate.
Belichick explained the importance of the practices and joint practices could be more beneficial than the games, and during the two-plus hour full pads practice there was evidence of that during Monday's workout.
"We'll just take it week by week here. Not sure where we'll be next week, but we'll see where we are this week. We have a pretty good idea," Belichick said. "See what happens between now and Thursday. We'll do what's best for this game and then kind of go from there. The scrimmage just kind of adds into it, the joint practice days, they count for something. Not sure exactly what, but they count for something."
Both Cam Newton and Mac Jones saw significant action against front-line defenders with the pace at a pretty high level. Both were sharp at times and Newton showed some nice accuracy on a few deep balls.
Jones did not take nearly as many reps as he has been getting on recent days but that changed late in the day. With about 30 minutes left in practice Jones took his first extended 11-on-11 reps. Starting around his own 30 he mixed some runs and short passes in an effort to move the chains. On third-and-2 he pitched one to James White for the first down.
On the next play he tried to hit Kristian Wilkerson deep down the right side but the throw was low and to the right. Two plays later he connected with Kendrick Bourne on a nice slant for another first down around the 20. Heavy pressure short-circuited the next two pass attempts as the defense offered some push back.
The script called for the ball to be moved inside the 10, however, and on second down he slid nicely in the pocket before finding a tumbling Wilkerson in the end zone. The 12th and final play of the sequence fell incomplete when N'Keal Harry was unable to get free from Michael Jackson.
Jones started another set of downs in his own territory and he dropped a nice deep ball on Sony Michel's outside shoulder for a big gain near the right sideline. Operating in the two-minute, Jones then dumped one to Michel before finding Gunner Olszewski across the middle. Jones then spiked the ball to stop the clock. On second down from the 16 he hit Marvin Hall in the end zone on a back shoulder fade for the touchdown.
Before taking those reps, Jones appeared anxious while waiting for some action while Newton and Brian Hoyer took their turns ahead of him. Nonetheless he threw decisively and was sharp for the most part.
Newton then returned for his two-minute drill but was forced to scramble and was unable to stop the clock. He was able to move the chains with a quick slant to Wilkerson to move to the 35. From there Belichick called for a third-and-5 from the 20, and Wilkerson dropped an easy pass to make it fourth down. Adrian Phillips came up with a beautiful pass defense on Jonnu Smith along the goal line to snuff out the drive.
Both quarterbacks got some valuable time working against what should be the bulk of the Patriots starters. It was one of the more enjoyable periods of training camp thus far.
Here are one man's impressions of the remainder of Day 11 of camp.
*The injury list continues to grow in recent days with some notable players being added following Sunday's physical practice. Hunter Henry (shoulder), David Andrews (hand) and Joe Cardona (unknown) were the latest players not spotted at practice. Reports indicated Henry is undergoing an MRI but that the injury does not appear to be serious. Meanwhile, X-rays on Andrews' hand were negative, so neither appears to be a long-term problem. With Cardona out, the Patriots signed long snapper Brian Khoury. Khoury spent some time with the Ravens as well as the XFL in recent years.
*Meanwhile, there were no changes to the lists with Jarrett Stidham, Stephon Gilmore, Chase Winovich, Terez Hall and Byron Cowart still on PUP while Cameron McGrone and Joshuah Bledsoe remain on NFI. In addition, Nick Folk, Brandon Bolden, Adrian Colbert and D'Angelo Ross remain out. It was the fourth straight absence for Folk and Ross while Bolden and Colbert missed their third in a row.
*Winovich was seen running on the lower rehab field before practice began, perhaps indicating that his return is inching closer.
*On the positive side, Nelson Agholor was back after missing Sunday's practice. He took part in some positional drills before retreating to the rehab field. Also, Akeem Spence was back in uniform after missing four straight practices.
*To make room for Khoury the Patriots made a roster move prior to practice as they waived quarterback Jake Dolegala. Dolegala spent time on the team's practice squad last season and was brought back as the fourth quarterback earlier this summer after Stidham opted for back surgery, He didn't receive many reps over the 10 practices he was with the team.
*Tedy Bruschi was on hand for yet another practice. He was seen chatting with Josh Uche during the pre-practice walkthrough period.
*For the second straight day the team opened practice with an emphasis on the running game. Exterior runs with tight ends blocking outside linebackers saw Matt LaCosse struggle to hold the point of attack on a couple of reps. Deatrich Wise also slipped inside Jonnu Smith on another rep. At the other end of the field there were some 9-on-7s inside the red zone, only the defense was trying to stop the run with just six players. The Patriots added bulk up front should make them more suited to do so with less personnel, and the group competed well during the drill.
*During that red zone running period, Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris both were able to break free on a couple of occasions. Stevenson's lateral quickness was noticeable as he side-stepped tacklers on more than one occasion. My initial observation on the rookie running back is he's quicker than I thought based on his size.
*The offensive and defensive linemen worked together going 2-on-2 with the rushers using stunts to pressure the passer. The defenders crossed often with Matt Judon showing his quickness during the drill. Unfortunately it appeared as if Christian Barmore got tangled up in a pile and came up limping. He went to the training area with Jim Whalen. He was able to return and eventually was back in the lineup for 11-on-11 work, but soon was back with Whalen.
*There were a few physical goal line reps featuring some tough running by Harris, Stevenson and Sony Michel. Each side had its share of success but the highlight came on the final rep when Joejuan Williams and Nick Thurman delivered big hits in the backfield to stop Michel cold. The defense erupted with the coaches celebrating with Williams following the play.
*Both the kickoff and kick receiving teams got some work in during the special team period. Marvin Hall, J.J. Taylor and Gunner Olszewski took reps as returners. Newton spent time throwing to Smith during that segment.
*The next full team activity took place near midfield with down-and-distance situations. Ted Karras opened that segment at center with Andrews out of the lineup. It was the first time Karras was in the lineup since returning from injury on Sunday.
*Newton had an opportunity to connect on a deep ball to Harry but the wideout was unable to run underneath a pretty solid throw. Harry split the deep coverage and had a chance to make a play on the ball but never closed and the ball bounced off his left hand. A few plays later Newton was able to hit James White down the right sideline for a nice pickup. White beat Kyle Van Noy on the play and Newton's pass dropped nicely into the running back's outside shoulder.
*Newton's positive stretch ended shortly thereafter when he waited a tad too long to hit Smith cutting across the middle on the goal line and Adrian Phillips picked it off. He likely would have been sacked on the play before the pick, but it was a bad decision nonetheless and his reaction after the fact told that story.
*Devin Asiasi, Jake Bailey, J.C. Jackson, Anfernee Jennings, Matt LaCosse, Shaq Mason and Quinn Nordin spoke with the media after practice.
*The Patriots will move inside Gillette Stadium for the second time this summer on Tuesday with practice set to begin at 3:30 p.m. The practice is open to the media and all fans, although no autographs will be allowed, and gates will open to the public at 2:30 p.m. As always please check with Patriots.com for the latest schedule changes during training camp.