It was a strong day for the Patriots offense on Wednesday as they opened up joint practices with the Giants with an impressive performance. Of course, Mac Jones is already getting plenty of attention for what was one of his best days of the summer, but the offensive line provided excellent protection for Jones, while some other faces continue to emerge.
It was arguably Kendrick Bourne's best day as the free-agent receiver had multiple grabs, including one wide-open crosser that showed what Bourne does best --catch the ball and explode upfield. It hasn't been an easy transition into the Patriots offense for Bourne, who has had a handful plays over the last couple weeks where he was not on the same page as the quarterback.
But here in the final week of preseason, the four-year veteran is starting to stack some success.
"Overall, it felt like a productive day for the offense," said Bourne after practice, before expounding on his process assimilating into the offense. "It's been tough each and every day, learning from my mistakes, learning from the last day, trying to improve. I learn better that way, messing it up live, than I do in the classroom. Day to day, I've been getting better though."
While Bourne's rising play is a new twist for the offense, the consistency of the offensive line has come to be expected in New England and they continue to deliver. David Andrews and his fellow blockers turned in a hard days worth of work on Wednesday, fighting through the conditions to give their rookie quarterback a chance to shine.
"Thought we had a good team day," said Andrews. "[The Giants] did some things today we didn't talk about, to see us upfront to go out there and figure it out ourselves to some extent, it was really good.
"We gotta keep stacking these days together as a team and keep making those strides."
James White also had one of his better days of practice, as Jones found him out of the backfield on multiple plays, along with an outstanding sideline throw during the two-minute drill, while David Andrews also praised White's work in pass protection. After a challenging 2020, White is starting to look like his old self late in training camp and with Sony Michel's departure, it's good news for the offensive backfield.
"Everybody as a whole, we're getting more confident as an offensive group," said White post-practice. "We have a lot of new faces, it's all of us working together, even the guys who have been here eight, nine years, you gotta build that rapport with all the new guys, we're trying to build that. It's the last week of camp so you gotta get it going."
5 takeaways from joint practice no. 1 with Giants
- Under challenging heat and humidity, the Patriots and Giants put a ton of work in, pushing beyond the two-hour mark with plenty of situational and special teams work. It felt like a day to test mental toughness and it didn't take long for tempers to flare as the Patriots offensive line and Giants defensive line got into an early shoving match that had the Pats taking a lap afterward. Though he wasn't involved in the fracas, Mac Jones joined the o-linemen on the lap.
- All things considered...the heat, the opponent, the opportunity...it was Jones' best day of training camp after a bit of an inconsistent start during 7-on-7 work before things amped up. From that point, Jones was near perfect and not just on the easy check-down stuff, but on some particularly challenging downfield throws. A deep connection to Jakobi Meyers up the sideline between two defenders was the highlight play of the day. Multiple connections with James White and Kendrick Bourne were notable and Jones continued to take what the defense gave him but also pushing the ball into tight windows. The confidence Jones has in throwing the ball with anticipation is remarkable.
- Jones did have one interception and it is the third-straight practice where his throws up the seam have been challenged and either picked off or nearly picked off. Not sure what it is about that spot on the field for the offense but between Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry it figures to be a critical route for the offense this year. Maybe not as critical as the underneath crosser to Smith or the running back wheel routes, but it would be nice to see Mac start hitting those. It's probably the only hole I can really poke in his game after Wednesday's session.
- With Isaiah Wynn leaving practice it was third-year tackle Yodny Cajuste taking the top left tackle reps. After two seasons lost to injury, the third-round pick is coming on as one of the surprises of training camp and it appears he's putting pressure on Justin Herron for the back-up swing tackle role. Dee Virgin similarly looked to take advantage of Justin Bethel's absence, elevating his spot on special teams. Virgin also had a nice pass breakup during team periods.
- The Patriots defense didn't give much up to the Giants offense, who were admittedly without most of the best offensive weapons. Far too often, Daniel Jones was on the run after the play broke down, something I'm sure Joe Judge didn't love. Just like the Pats O was undermanned in Philly and had some of their choppiest practices, it's hard to get too overexcited about the defense's performance, but like Mac Jones, they did all they could today.
Quotes of Note
Deatrich Wise on the defense:
"I think our defense is definitely growing in confidence and growing in chemistry. One of the things that have been very impressive is how we've been able to grow together, week in and week out we're improving, coverage, pass rush, it's just all coming together."
James White on joint practices with the Giants:
"Another good competition, they're coached similar to us having Joe Judge there, but they have different schemes than what we saw last week. It's another thing for us to prepare for. It's great competition, it's another stepping stone for us to come together as a team."
Jakob Johnson on Sony Michel:
"Sony is always bringing the energy, always has a smile on his face. He makes me look good when he runs the ball. He's a hard worker and overall good guy."