The Patriots opened their 2022 training camp on the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Wednesday morning, with quarterback Mac Jones setting the tone heading into his second season.
New England's second-year quarterback brought the day one energy to the practice field but had a similar tone to his head coach when emphasizing that the team is in the very early stages of their preparation for the upcoming season.
"Day ones are day ones," Jones told reporters after practice. "You just want to get around, get moving, and compete a little bit. But it's more about getting in the right spot and setting the tempo."
"I always think football is fun and always will be, but it's all about competing and winning. Winning is fun."
Along with flashing some of his "dramatic" offseason improvements, as Bill Belichick described on Tuesday, Jones was one of the most energetic players at Wednesday's practice.
"You have to be able to do that every day. Everyone has juice on the first day of practice, but it's the consistency of doing it every day that's going to be the challenge."
"It all comes down to building a relationship with the guys. We have a great team camaraderie. I think that will grow as time goes along. It's a lot of our second years in the Patriots' system, so I think there's a lot of growth to be done," Jones said.
On the field, Jones was sharp in red zone work as the Patriots continued to install their offense, with the first four days of training camp serving as an extension of spring OTA practices and mandatory minicamp.
After attacking offseason training and flying around the country for throwing sessions with teammates, Jones discussed the goal of his well-documented preparation for year two in the NFL.
"Just evaluating what I wanted to get better at, whether that be footwork, where the ball location is on certain throws, just trying to learn how to hit every throw in different ways," the quarterback explained. "The offseason is great, but you want to take what you do and be able to use it in games. It's the reason you work hard."
To that point, Jones connected on a variety of different red-zone completions with his receivers in Wednesday's practice. Newcomer DeVante Parker made three contested-style touchdown grabs in traffic, he also led Kendrick Bourne into the corner of the end zone for another score early in practice, and his best throw might've been a high-point fade to Nelson Agholor. Jones lofted the pass in Agholor's direction, and the Pats' wideout elevated over cornerback Malcolm Butler to pluck the ball out of the air for an impressive catch.
The other major storyline heading into Pats camp this summer is a tweaked offensive system now led by Belichick, Matt Patricia, and Joe Judge. After former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels's departure, the Patriots are going with a more "streamlined" approach.
Both Jones and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne spoke about an emphasis on playing faster before and after the snap after practice.
"We have a long way to go, but we are doing a lot of good things schematically to get up there and snap the ball a lot quicker," Jones said. "It doesn't really matter what I'm doing. If we can do it quickly and put stress on the defense, it makes everything harder. I think the idea and what we are trying to get to is there."
"A lot of the adjustments we made to come off the ball faster. Just to get a head start off the ball is huge. It just feels faster. More speed. More urgency," Bourne added.
As the Patriots begin determining who will primarily call the offensive plays, Jones is liking the collaborative effort between the players and coaching staff so far.
"Plays are plays. Regardless of who's telling you what the play is, you just listen to the formation and all that stuff and execute the play. There's a rhythm to it, and they all have a good rhythm."
"The players play, and the coaches coach. You want to listen to the good coaching you can get from three coaches who have all been head coaches. They've seen a ton, a ton of football."
"I feel like they're listening to the players, 'hey, we kind of like this concept. Alright, let's try it.' If they want to put in something else, they explain the why, and that's the important part for me."
The Patriots will be back on the practice field for day two of training camp at 9:30 am on Thursday.