Patriots training camp: Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry put on a show on Friday
Despite putting in shells for the first time this offseason, the New England Patriots held a low-key training camp in hot and humid Foxborough on Friday. With just one more session on Saturday until the full pads officially arrive, let’s move on to Day 3 workbook.
Absent: QB Brian Hoyer, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., RB James White (PUP), S Jabrill Peppers (PUP), DB Jonathan Jones (PUP), DB Myles Bryant (NFI), OL Chasen Hines (NFI), OL Andrew Stueber (NFI )
Returned: C David Andrews (PUP), P Jake Bailey (NFI/disease)
Limit: RB Pierre Strong Jr.
After not participating in any competitive drills and wearing a sleeve over his throwing arm Thursday, Brian Hoyer was absent from practice Friday. Deatrich Wise remained out with Pierre Strong Jr. still limited.
Meanwhile, two players were back in action. Center David Andrews and Jake Bailey made their camp debuts and were activated on the PUP and NFI rosters, respectively.
Take away food
QB report: A good start ended not so well for Mac Jones and the offense on Friday. After lighting up the defense at 7-on-7 — which included hugely impressive touchdowns against Kendrick Bourne and Jonnu Smith (twice) — Jones and the offense weren’t as sharp in the job at 11-on-11. The struggles were highlighted by poor communication between Jones and Jakobi Meyers resulting in an easy interception for Jalen Mills. It was the first of the Jones camp.
As for Bailey Zappe, he was again the second man with Brian Hoyer on the sidelines. It was a day of ups and downs for the rookie as he knocked Smith down on a wheelie in the end zone which resulted in an Adrian Phillips interception. Zappe responded on the next play with a strike to Hunter Henry and redeemed himself 11-for-11 with a nice ball to Ty Montgomery, who ran a wheelie route out of the backfield. Zappe ended practice with another interception, as Justin Bethel came in between one of his pass attempts.
Tight ends happen to Kyle Dugger: Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith made day three a struggle for Kyle Dugger. Both tight ends made a pair of acrobatic touchdown receptions for the second straight day, both times vertically passing Dugger into tight coverage. It’s a strong sign as New England look to involve both tight ends more this season.
Health: The Patriots saw a pair of familiar faces dress up for the first time this summer on Friday. Starting center David Andrews (shoulder) was in uniform, meaning he’s not on the PUP roster. While dressed, Andrews watched from the sidelines during competitive drills. Punter Jake Bailey was also activated on the NFI/Illness roster and looked like his old all-court punts.
Running Committee: With James White remaining on PUP and Pierre Strong Jr. still limited, the entire Patriots backfield continues to get its fair share of work in both the running and passing game. While Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are still leading the pack, Ty Montgomery has been heavily involved as a backfield receiver and also. Rookie Kevin Harris also got work in the air on Friday.
Call in offensive play: Again, duties were split for Patriots coaches when it came to playing calling on the offensive side of the ball. At the start of 7-on-7, it was Joe Judge who was radioing with a walkie-talkie before handing the tasks over to Matt Patricia.
In the final 11 seconds, it was Bill Belichick with a game sheet that checked in with the quarterback’s pre-snap. Although Patricia still seems to be the favorite, all three have opportunities throughout the first three days of camp.
End of training competition: To wrap up today’s practice, Belichick opted for a little competition instead of running the hills. Marcus Jones and Tre Nixon, who both appeared to be wearing a chest pad, competed to see who could catch the most punts without letting go of their previous holds. After it seemed to end in a tie, rookies Cole Strange and DaMarcus Mitchell took over. Strange made a good hold on the second punt to win and celebrated by jumping into a nearby Bill Belichick.
- Tyquan Thornton worked as a gunner throughout camp where his speed is extremely noticeable.
- While offensive and defensive linemen are usually quiet without pads, Davon Godchaux was active breaking up a pass from Mac Jones 11-on-11.
- Kristian Wilkerson and Hunter Henry collided in midfield after Henry landed a touchdown from Zappe in the 7-on-7 first period. It looked like Wilkerson may have taken the wrong route as the two were at the same place.
- With Jonathan Jones on the PUP roster, Shaun Wade and rookie Marcus Jones get quality opportunities in the slot. When it comes to the outside cornerback competition, Terrance Mitchell secured his top spot for the third day in a row.
- Speaking of Marcus Jones, he returned clearances with Tre Nixon and Kyle Dugger. Jones missed a wobbler from Jake Bailey, resulting in a penalty round.
- It was a light day for safety Devin McCourty, which meant more reps with the starters for Joshuah Bledsoe, who stood out early in camp. Bledsoe rotated between cornerback and safety and held on. If he wasn’t on your early 53-player projections, it might be time to redo them.
- Rookie defensive back Brenden Schooler continues to be heavily involved in special teams drills, spending most of practice with Matthew Slater. Mack Wilson served as the team’s backup long snapper for the second day in a row, a role previously held by Deatrich Wise Jr. and Jonnu Smith.
- Tre Nixon and Kendrick Bourne recorded falls on Friday, with both passes bouncing off their hands. Bourne’s fall came on a nice ball from Mac Jones in the end zone. Nixon bounced back with his best side game, coming up and passing Shaun Wade to score a touchdown.
- Another day, another nice snag from DeVante Parker, who made a nice body grab in the end zone on Jalen Mills.
The Patriots will be back on the practice fields for their fourth practice in training camp Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET.