Hunter Henry recorded three catches in the season-opening loss to the Dolphins, including a big third-down conversion that helped keep the Patriots in the game late. It wasn't overwhelming production, but for a player who missed time this summer with injuries, it was a solid start.
Henry was optimistic about the direction of the offense after getting one, albeit disappointing, game under their belt.
"First game as a Patriot, obviously it wasn't the result that I wanted but it was good to get out there," said Henry. "There's a lot of things to improve on, but excited for the next week ahead, just learning from those things and trying to apply them."
Henry's debut included a return to a full stadium, with passionate Patriots fans who made their presence felt. It was a welcome change from 2020's fanless season.
"Pregame, it was sweet," said Henry of the atmosphere. "Even in the game sitting over there listening to them get on their feet for the defense, it was pretty special. Obviously, we missed them last year and then my first experience at Gillette kind of being on the other side of things. It was really really cool to be able to see the fans and see their excitement."
And the loss didn't dampen the excitement after rookie Mac Jones put further his own solid first outing.
"He did a tremendous job out there," said Henry of the quarterback. "They did some things we hadn't seen early on in the game that we had to adjust to.
"Mac handled it really well and I think we as an offense handled it pretty well."
Henry was most impressed by Jones' willingness to stand in the pocket and take hits to deliver the ball. Miami blitzed on nearly half of the rookie's dropbacks but he didn't flinch.
"He's super unselfish, like standing in the pocket taking those shots and throwing the ball, it shows a lot to the lineman, to us [the tight ends], to the receivers," said Henry. "That's big time. He's going to continue to have to do that and we're gonna have to protect him better."
Protection is just one part of what the Patriots have to do better as a whole. Turnovers and penalties were also problem areas as Henry pointed out.
"We gotta clean up what we did," said Henry. "You can't win football games in the National Football League playing like we did the other day. We played a great game besides the turnovers and the penalties. That's going to beat you every single week so we've got to clean those things up and really take pride in them. That starts with everybody, it's not just the guys that are handling the ball every time, it's finishing blocks so those guys won't get into the scrum. Just doing the extra thing so guys don't have to worry about them. You gotta take pride in it."
Mac checks in
Wednesdays are when the starting quarterback check in and that means it was Mac Jones' weekly turn at the podium, fresh off his first NFL start.
"It's definitely faster but it kind of slows down when you get more reps," said Jones of the professional football pace. "Obviously some guys around me have played for like five, six, seven years so they're used to it. I didn't feel out of place or anything but definitely can improve on just being quicker and helping them move quick to just push the tempo and all that stuff. They obviously know what to do every time and I do too I just need to do it faster and more consistently."
With the Dolphins loss in his rearview mirror, Jones had turned his focus to the Jets.
"We're playing the Jets, they do a really good job running to the ball, they play really hard," said Jones. "We just got to be ready to go, be ready for different looks... they're really good on third down and stuff too. They obviously have new coaches and they've done a good job installing the defense and all that. It really comes back to us just playing the best we can. They're gonna play their best at home too, we just gotta be ready to go."
Practice & Injury Report
The Patriots began preparations for the New York Jets on Wednesday with a fully padded practice on the upper practice fields. Trent Brown, who left Sunday's game after just seven snaps was not spotted, nor was Kyle Van Noy. However, Dont'a Hightower, who did not finish the game after looking like he got his foot stepped on during the final drive, was present and moving okay.
The injury report clarified that Van Noy is dealing with a throat injury while it's a calf injury for Brown. Nelson Agholor (ankle) and Jalen Mills (ankle) were both full participants, a good sign in the recovery process. Kyle Dugger was also a full participant as a new appearance on the report with a wrist injury, while Yodny Cajuste (hamstring) and Ronnie Perkins (shoulder) were both inactive in the game and continue to have limited practice participation.
Quotes of Note
Michael Onwenu on his advice to rookies:
"What I tell them is what the coaches told me when I was a rookie, just do what you can, do your job, stay in the book and the rest will take care of itself."
Adrian Phillips on his improvement in New England:
"I'm a way better player than I was two years ago just from being in this system."