While most are focused on the competition at quarterback, there's a kicking battle emerging in Patriots training camp as undrafted rookie Quinn Nordin looks to unseat veteran Nick Folk. With Folk missing the last four practices, the door has opened for Nordin, who has taken advantage of his opportunities.
"It's been a lot to take in," said Nordin after practice on Monday. "I'm just trying to learn honestly, we've got some great vets, I'm trying to learn from all of them and take everything one day at a time."
Most notable was Nordin's perfect performance inside Gillette Stadium on Friday night, going 10-for-10 on his attempts, including two that came from over 50 yards. Though Bill Belichick was quick to point the perfect conditions inside the stadium, he was impressed with the rookie's progress.
"Quinn's improved," said Belichick before practice. "He's still got a long way to go, but he's improved. It's a good opportunity for him to kick inside. Of course it's ideal conditions. Can't get it really much better than that. No wind, turf. We'll keep challenging him in different situations and see how he responds just like everybody else. No rush."
For Nordin, there wasn't much question where he was headed after the draft. As he perused LinkedIn and considered joining the military after going undrafted, the Patriots were the lone team to call and offer him a chance. A chance he's looking to seize hold of.
"It's a great opportunity and the staff here is tremendous," said Nordin. "Coach Belichick's in there, it's so cool.
"Matthew Slater, I try to mimic everything he does from cold tubs to epson salt baths, I try to mimic him in every sense of the word."
Ultimately, it will boil down to consistency, an important buzzword when it comes to training camp. But since last week the only undrafted rookie on the roster has done all he can to improve his roster chances. With games and joint practices looming, an even bigger spotlight is to come.
"I'm just trying to make the short ones, that's what I'm focused on right now," said Nordin. "Honing in on fundamentals, that's my main focus."
Tight end depth brings value
With Devin Asiasi activated off the COVID-19 list and Matt LaCosse putting together a solid training camp, the Patriots tight end group was reinforced at the right time, especially with Hunter Henry missing from Monday's session. The duo should provide valuable depth and ensure the team's plans for the position remain intact even if injuries strike.
"For me it's just all about getting back into the groove," said Asiasi. "Getting familiar getting a muscle memory back."
LaCosse kept his tabs on the Patriots after opting out of 2020, taking the time to stay home and help care for his first born son who arrived last year.
"Of course I watched every game to try to stay as close as I could," said LaCosse. "I'm excited for everything, I didn't do anything last year so it's great to be back with the guys."
5 takeaways from training camp practice no. 11
- It was another solid day for the quarterbacks, as the reps looked pretty evenly distributed and both Cam Newton and Mac Jones delivered some nice throws. It seems like the duo has settled in somewhat, but things will enter another level with Thursday night's preseason game.
- Kendrick Bourne had perhaps his best practice of the summer without Nelson Agholor or Hunter Henry taking part in team sessions. He was consistently finding holes in the middle of the defense and making solid hands catches. Bourne is looking more and more like a really good fit for the offense.
- James White and Sony Michel had two of the catches of the day. We know what White can do as a pass catcher but Michel continues to show flashes of potential. With Rex Burkhead gone could Michel evolve into more of a dual-threat running back?
- I've said it before but Adrian Phillips continues to be the best player in camp. He had another pass breakup, this time against Jonnu Smith as Phillips has been all over the tight ends and the ball throughout camp.
- Despite Nick Folk missing another practice, Quinn Nordin wasn't put on the spot with the new long snapper as the team let one of the assistant coaches kick with the defense working on the finer points of blocking a kick.
Mike Reiss is reporting that after leaving practice early on Sunday, Hunter Henry is dealing with a shoulder issue that could cause him to miss some time in the preseason. Luckily, Nelson Agholor returned to practice after missing just one session, but Henry was absent Monday.
Jeff Howe also reports that Joe Cardona could miss some time as well with an unspecified injury. Cardona walked off under his own power at the same time as Henry during Sunday's fully-padded session. The team reportedly added long snapper Brian Khoury, a move that could correspond with Doug Kyed's report that the team had waived quarterback Jake Dolegala. Khoury was present on Monday.
It was also reported by Karen Guregian that David Andrews avoided a serious hand injury after being banged up on Sunday. He was among the missing at Monday's practice. As things continue to ramp up injuries are becoming more of a factor as the war of attrition is always one of the hardest parts of the NFL season.