We finally got some real football on Monday morning.
Ok, maybe not real in the sense of full speed, full contact, but the pads came on for the first time when the Patriots hit the field for the fifth practice of the summer. There was a heavy amount of running game work and there were no big hits or fisticuffs, but still plenty to sift through after what I’d call another tossup day between the offense and defense.
Lets get to it…
-Feels like it’ll be the case all camp, but Terrance Mitchell was once again the first guy out a good 3-4 minutes before anyone, but Jalen Mills wasn’t far behind. Malcolm Butler joined the crew a few moments after that.
-It was nice to see Jabrill Peppers and Jonathan Jones make their way out early, both had missed the first few practices.
-Mac Jones received the biggest (and really the only) ovation as he made his way out. Crowd wasn’t all that energetic today so it wasn’t as thunderous as it has been, but you still knew who was coming out even if you were 200 yards away.
-The crowd was definitely later filing in today, but still ended up packing the bleachers for another full house, but the energy and noise wasn’t there like it had been last week.
-Patrick Chung was on hand to take in practice, first old player we’ve seen around I believe. Last year it was Tedy Bruschi making the early appearances.
-Early on, Mac worked on some deep balls with Joe Judge standing close by. The first few throws were just to an assistant, but Jones eventually threw some to the receivers after they had gone through their initial positional work for the day.
-At 10:04, the first bit of padded competition began with 1-on-1’s between the receivers and defensive backs. It didn’t take long for the “oooh’s” and “ahhh’s” to come out as Tyquan Thornton made a diving catch on a 40-45 yard throw from Jones with Joejuan Williams in coverage. DeVante Parker matched it moments later with a similar grab against Butler on a nice ball from Bailey Zappe.
-Speaking of Thornton, this was the first time we really got to see some of the straight line speed and it’s legit.
-Kendrick Bourne had a nice back-shoulder play during the same period with Jones and let out a “yeah Mac!” yell after the completion.
-There was a lot of zone running game work going on today and even though I haven’t noticed it yet this year, the very first handoff Damien Harris took during an early drill ended with him running the length of the field despite the situation not calling for it. Harris usually does it on every single carry even when he doesn’t have to do so, he’s the only running back that consistently does it.
-At 10:23 we got the first bit of 11-on-11. Matt Patricia was calling the plays.
-Isaiah Wynn had to run an early lap on a false start and Mac’s only throw of this particular session was an easy interception for Mitchell who was simply sitting there waiting for the ball in coverage. The rest of the period was focused on the run game with Harris, Stevenson, Ty Montgomery and rookie Kevin Harris all getting some reps. Nothing too pretty as the defensive line (particularly Barmore) made life difficult.
-During this time, Matt Slater and Cody Davis worked on punt gunnering (hope that’s a word).
-10:30 saw a shift to 7-on-7 work with Joe Judge calling the plays it seemed. Devin Asiasi, Tre Nixon and Kendrick Bourne all making some catches. Bourne caught a quick comeback, turned up field and pulled a Damien Harris, finishing all the way into the end zone while giving a couple big grunts the last few yards.
-Kick off return got some looks around 10:45 with Nixon receiving. I still firmly believe the team is going to try and get more out of the return game this year, it needs to be a weapon again. Whether it’s Nixon, Montgomery, Marcus Jones, JJ Taylor, Kyle Dugger or someone we haven’t even considered yet, there’s plenty go guys who can make some magic happen.
-I need to watch more closely, but I think every single time the horn blows to signal the start of the next period, if Mac has a ball in his hands he does a behind-the-back flip/throw of the football to Zappe or someone close by.
-Vizcaino was back hitting moon shots over the media and family tents. I keep saying I’m not getting roped in again like I did with Nordin last year, but man he hits some boomers.
-Back to 11-on-11 work at 10:49. On the first or second snap, Mac ended up tripping during a handoff and got up laughing about it.
-Pressure forced Zappe to step up and take off at one point, which probably didn’t make the coaching staff happy given the play call, but he did look pretty quick at the very least.
-Mac and Parker hooked up for a pretty deep ball down the left sideline from about 45-yards out with Butler in coverage.
-Something we might (hopefully) see a lot of this year, Jones hit Jonnu Smith on a bit of a check down over the middle after scanning the field and maneuvering the pocket. If Smith can be a third-down “binky” of sorts it’ll make Jones’ life that much easier.
-One of the last 11-on-11 snaps saw defensive lineman Sam Roberts dominate Bill Murray, shoving him into Zappe, who almost got his leg caught up in the carnage on the ground but averted disaster.
-Red Zone work started at 11:03 and it was a great period for Butler. Malcolm had a PBU in the back left corner of the end zone on a fade to Parker and almost had an interception in the end zone while covering Thornton.
-Kody Russey, Josh Hammond and Tre Nixon all had to run a lap for a false start at the same time.
-Field goal work at 11:15 saw Mac holding for Nick Folk while Vizcaino hit field goals on the opposite side of the field.
-A bit more positional work from 11:20-11:30 wrapped up the day.
The pads come back on Tuesday morning at 9:30 and there should be a bit more tempo and contact to the practice. It felt like the team sort of eased into the padded practices today, so hopefully we’re able to see a bit more “live” action.
Either way, it’s still tough to tell exactly what the Patriots have right now and it will be for a while longer. Both the offense and defense have had their moments at times, but there’s some reason for concern at other times. There’s been no glaring “ok this is definitely going to be something that will work this year” moments yet. Hopefully, those are coming as contact & the speed of practice ramp up.
As always, continue reading nefootballjournal.com for all things New England football and follow all of our social media accounts for more coverage from Patriots training camp. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday’s practices are still open to the public this week before the in-stadium season ticket holder’s practice on Friday night (7 P.M.)
We finally got some real football on Monday morning.