The Patriots offense made strides in their third day of training camp practice, with both Cam Newton and Mac Jones making some impressive throws that will continue to elevate the competition between them. Speaking after practice, both Newton and Jones expressed their mutual admiration as they've gotten to know each other better in recent days.
It might be a competition, but it's a process that they will tackle together.
"For us, it's knowing that we have a standard we have to meet each and every day," said Newton in his first media availability of the summer. "Everbody's just trying to learn each other and try to be the best team possible."
After days like Friday, the back and forth should only help produce the best results. Jones threw some of the day's prettiest passes, hooking up on touchdowns to Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. It's early, but the rookie hasn't looked like many deer-in-headlights rookie QBs that have passed through Foxborough over the years.
But most impressive has been Jones' decisiveness. On some plays, his accuracy may be a little off but he gets through his reads and gets the ball out quick, long a hallmark of the Patriots offensive system.
"My whole thing is just, whatever the play tells you to do, to do it, and I'm trying to get there," said Jones in his own first media appearance with the team since the draft. "I'm getting better and I don't feel like I'm lost out there, but I gotta be able to throw the ball to the right guy based on the coverage, based on the problem. So, fixing the problem -- that's if the ball is supposed to be thrown quick, do your first read, then get it out. If not, just make it a process to where you're sticking to it, it's not, 'oh, I think it's this, so let me try this,' it's 'I see this, let me do this.'"
Newton has also made strides in the area of getting the ball out, particularly with a quickly-thrown slant to Agholor for a touchdown, but both have had their moments of indecision, something a veteran defense that knows how to disguise has played a big part in.
"Of course, we have this mental [image] in our head in the classroom or when we're meeting, Coach asks a question, boom, that's where we're supposed to go with the ball," described Newton of how much can change from the classroom to the field. "Okay, now you got Devin McCourty showing us something, Kyle Dugger showing something, then all of a sudden, Hightower jumps over here and then it's like, 'okay, what do I do? What do I do? What I do?' It's just taking the brain a little longer at times. But hopefully, with a lot of repetitions, it'll be good."
Despite the competition, the two quarterbacks seem to be enjoying getting to know each other.
"Cam, I like his outfits for sure, I can't pull off his swag" said Jones of the vet. "He's awesome and you know, he just has fun with it in the meetings and that makes the days go by. Not like 'oh, this day is a long day,' but it's like, 'this is awesome.' We're having fun bonding."
"Cool like the other side of the pillow, you know what I'm saying?" said Newton of Jones. "You never know when he's really down on himself, you don't really necessarily know when he's up either. You know what I'm saying? He's real cool."
Tough sledding in the red zone
One notable aspect from the first few days of practice has been the team's extensive work inside the red zone, something that Bill Belichick pointed out was common over the last five years with the exception of 2020's COVID-influenced training camp. Brian Hoyer helped shed some light on what makes the work in the red zone so valuable...and challenging.
"Bill's always going to make it as hard as he can on us at the beginning of training camp, minicamp, whatever it is," said Hoyer. "Coming down there where everything's condensed, there's tight windows, the defense is doing a lot of stuff.
"A lot of teams go out there, you just start on the field and there's no down and distance, it's just run plays. You come here on the first day, you're playing right down in the red area, you're trying to figure out who's covering who, the ball has to come out fast. Let's call it what it is, this is the most difficult play in football is down in the red area, is third down in the red area."
Quotes of Note
Jakobi Meyers on suddenly being the most experienced receiver in the Patriots system:
"Now I have advice to give people younger than me. That first year my eyes were wide open just trying to figure out where I belonged in the offense, my role on the team. Now, just witnessing guys going through the same process I went through, being undrafted or just coming up through a tough playbook and being able to tell them what I did and what path I see them coming down. Just helping them out the best I can."
N'Keal Harry on his agent's trade request this offseason:
"Right now, I'm really not worried about anything trade-wise. I'm just focused on how to be the best version of myself on the field, going out there, working hard and improving every day. Everything's been very normal. I've just been focused on helping this team win and doing whatever I can to become the best version of myself I can. I'm a Patriot right now, I'm very okay with being a Patriot."
Trent Brown on retired OL coach Dante Scarnecchia:
"I was just telling the guys yesterday I wouldn't be mad if Coach Scar came and cursed me out one good time."
Brian Hoyer on Mac Jones:
"He works his butt off and he cares a lot. I'm just there if he has a question...I get text messages from him at 6am. He's doing a great job."