Forecasts of a tropical storm weren't enough to keep Patriots coaches from checking in with the media on Sunday as the team prepares for their final week of preseason. After their own practices on Monday and Tuesday, the Pats will host the Giants for joint practices on Wednesday and Thursday before heading down to New York to wrap up their third and final preseason game on Sunday.
After a week's worth of work in Philadelphia, the defensive coaches were especially excited about the quality of work that their unit got it.
"We got good quality reps against a totally different team than we're used to seeing and it kind of tested our fundamentals and also our philosophy to see how it stacks up against another team," said inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo. "It also breaks up the monotony of camp going against the same guys over and over again. It was a great trip and a great time for the guys to really spend a lot of time together and build that camaraderie."
Injuries limited some of the Patriots players while in Philadelphia, presenting enhanced opportunities for players like rookie Christian Barmore and defensive backs like Justin Bethel, Michael Jackson and D'Angelo Ross.
"Obviously coming in new to the system as a rookie, he's developing, learning the playbook, trying to learn the concepts, the defensive line techniques, learning his teammates," said defensive line coach Demarcus Covington of Barmore, highlighting his progress. "He's done a really good job of embracing his role as a rookie defensive lineman coming into our defense and our team. He's definitely got some room for improvement but he's been doing good so far."
"It's more just guys making the most of their opportunities," said cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino. "Whether it's some guys stepping into the next group or a guy playing a different position, it's always great to watch the guys put it out there on tape for everyone else to see."
With the regular season rapidly approaching, the staff is staying in training camp mode for now, getting down the vital fundamentals that will carry them through the season.
"We talk about this, every play starts with good fundamentals," said Covington. "There's no good play without good fundamentals. We make sure we work on those from a day-to-day basis and for [Barmore], I would say with everybody, that's a point of emphasis on a down-by-down basis, whether it's run or pass."
"Right now we're focused on fundamentals and laying the foundation of calls and schemes," said Mayo. "Yes, we are a game plan defense but there are things that are fundamental to the way that we play defense here in the last 20 years and we have to get good at those before we can even think about moving on to something else. Really it's all about fundamentals... taking on blocks, tackling, just running. Just doing the simple things at a high level and a consistent basis, that is our primary goal."
McDaniels praises Newton's work
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels touched briefly on the Patriots quarterback situation during his availability, both reiterating that Cam Newton remains the starter but that there will be a decision made to confirm that before the start of the regular season.
"I know this is going to sound silly, but I haven't really worried about it," McDaniels said of the choice at quarterback. "I think that decision from Bill will be made when the time is right to make it."
Newton had an efficient second appearance of the preseason, playing three series against the Eagles and throwing a touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers.
"Cam certainly is the starter now, and he has done a good job. He has gone in there, he played well the other night. He's practiced well. But, I know those guys are really competing hard and we're giving them an opportunity to compete and play a lot of football."
Report: Harry out four weeks
As first reported by CLNS' Evan Lazar and later confirmed by Adam Schefter, N'Keal Harry avoided any structural damage to his shoulder after laying out for a pass against the Eagles, and Ian Rapoport later added that it's expected Harry will miss about four weeks.
It's an unfortunate development after Harry had been stringing together a solid training camp and now the team will have to figure out how to navigate his availability early in the season. As was the case in 2020, teams can have unlimited returns from Injured Reserve, with a minimum of three games required to be missed. However, Harry would have to be included on the team's initial 53-man roster to be able to visit IR and then return.
Coaches Quotes of Note
Mike Pellegrino on JoeJuan Williams' development:
"JoeJuan's my guy. Just from his rookie year to right now, that growth has been great, not just on the field, off the field. His commitment to the game has been great. I come in early he's here... He's here late working as well, he's always in the weight room. It's been phenomenal to watch him grow not only as a player but as a person."
Brian Belichick on the improvement of Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger in Year 2:
"[Adrian] did a great job coming in embracing the defense but with every player, whether it's a rookie who is in their first year and then they come into their second year like Kyle Dugger, or a guy like Adrian that last year was his first year as a veteran he did a great job last year fitting into the defense and making it his own too. Now coming into a second year it always helps because you've been through it once so it's not the first time you hear stuff. Whether that's a rookie or a second-year veteran who came in free agency like he did, it's always nice to not have everything being new."
Jerod Mayo on Harvey Langi:
"[Harvey]'s big, fast, strong, can do a lot of different things. Obviously, he's a tremendous asset in the kicking game but also I'm surprised by just his natural ability off the ball. That's where you really start to see his athleticism shine. He's done a good job for us, when we lost Raekwon it was like 'ugh,' it's very tough because he was doing a great job for us as well but Harvey's done a good job stepping up into that role."
Receivers coach Mick Lombardi on what he and Troy Brown tell their receivers:
"No block, no rock."