The Patriots held their annual in-stadium practice with a slightly different approach than in past years for season ticket members and Foxborough residents at Gillette Stadium on Friday night.
Typically, the in-stadium session is a non-padded practice where the team holds a walkthrough. However, Friday night saw veterans Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer lead Team Blue against rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe and Team White in a simulated game in full pads.
Although the scrimmage had the look and feel of a real game, the tempo was roughly three-quarters speed beside a few instances where the competitive juices were flowing.
The highlight of the night came late in the "second half" when wide receiver DeVante Parker broke behind cornerback Joejuan Williams's coverage for a roughly 60-yard touchdown from quarterback Brian Hoyer. Parker's long touchdown grab in the scrimmage capped off a strong first impression for the veteran newcomer this summer.
After practice, running back Damien Harris discussed the objectives laid out by head coach Bill Belichick for a night that was as lively as any in-stadium practice in recent memory.
"It was a great experience. We came out here to simulate a game," Harris told reporters after Friday's practice. "It was good to be out here on the game field under the lights and get the fans out here. The style of play was like a game."
With the players practicing at a brisk pace, the biggest takeaways were how the coaching staff divided the Blue and White rosters up. Team Blue consisted of 38 players that were mostly veterans who are likely to make the roster, while Team White consisted of most of the rookies and other players competing for roster spots in New England this summer.
With Pro Bowler Matthew Judon sitting out his second-straight practice, third-year edge rusher Anfernee Jennings and Josh Uche ran with Team Blue throughout the night. It was also notable that guard Cole Strange and cornerback Marcus Jones were the only rookies on Team Blue.
Another area that still appears to be an open competition is at right guard, where Mike Onwenu and James Ferentz split the reps for Team Blue. With the Patriots potentially featuring more zone-blocking run concepts this season, Onwenu's fit in that style of scheme comes into question. In other words, New England could go with more athletic options, and we've seen the coaching staff try out various players at right guard in practice.
Lastly, do-it-all wide receiver Ty Montgomery was squarely in the mix for Team Blue and continues to play a featured role in the offense. In the early stages of camp, Montgomery is the favorite to serve as New England's receiving back until James White returns from injury.
The next Patriots Training Camp practices open to the public are on Monday and Tuesday ahead of Thursday night's preseason opener against the Giants.