Patriots: Sights, sounds & thoughts from Day 13 of training camp (joint practice with Carolina edition)

The last 12 practices were interesting, but it truly felt like training camp for the first time on Tuesday morning when the Carolina Panthers joined the Patriots on the practice field for the first of two joint sessions.

Chippy play, trash talking, a brawl and most importantly, some progress for the offense all unfolded in front of thousands of fans and dozens of media members, but there was a bunch more that stood out too…

-The Kraft-copter arrived bright and early around 8:45 A.M. RKK walked the sidelines and interacted with players prior to stretching.

-Quite a few familiar faces were on hand. Mike Mayock, Rob Ninkovich, Tedy Bruschi and Lonnie Paxton and Patrick Chung were all in the house. The extra media presence with Carolina visiting created a palpable buzz in the media tent and the crowd was the biggest it’s been since the first few days of camp. It was an important day and it actually felt like it.

-After both teams went through their usual positional work to start the day, 1-on-1’s started at 10:21. Jalen Mills immediately started his strong day with an impressive PBU against Robbie Anderson, one of the key matchups of the day. He added another one in the same matchup a bit later on in the same period too.

-During the same 1-on-1’s, Tre Nixon beat Duke Dawson over the middle, Kyle Dugger had an interception of Baker Mayfield while covering Tommy Tremble, Tyquan Thornton had a fantastic diving catch in the back corner of the end zone against Sean Chandler and Marcus Jones also had a nice PBU against Derek Wright.

-After some light punt work where a Carolina player muffed the very first ball in the air, it was on to the first bit of 11-on-11 around 10:38. The Pats’ offense and Carolina defense was on the left field (in front of the family and media tents) while the Pats’ defense and Panthers’ offense was on the other field.

-On the very first snap, Mills should’ve had a interception on Mayfield but just couldn’t hold on. Deatrich Wise, Matt Judon, Anfernee Jennings and Christian Barmore all had run stuffs in what was a pretty dominant day for the New England D. Meanwhile, Mac hit Meyers on a slant over the middle at one point early on.

-Christian McCaffrey is still really fast, and on the rare occasion he was able to hit a hole, he hit it quickly and showed his electric ability to get to the second level quickly.

-Tyquan Thornton had another phenomenal day, and in this particular period he was open seemingly every single time he ran a route, his ability to get separation is ridiculous.

-DeVante Parker went up and got a deep ball against CJ Henderson, his first of two highlight reel catches on the day. Later in the session with Hoyer taking some snaps, Mac chatted with both Joe Judge and Evan Roethstein.

-7-on-7 work started at 10:58. Oddly enough, 7-on-7 is something that the Patriots offense has succeeded in throughout camp, but Carolina’s defense dominated the offense for the majority of it. On the other side (it’s tough to watch everything all at once) I did see a nice PBU for Justin Bethel.

-More 11-on-11 work at 11:05. Matt Sokol ended up having a few nice catches thanks to Hunter Henry leaving the field, which gave Sokol more opportunities. McCaffrey shook three different guys on one rep, Mac had to scramble on back-to-back plays, throwing the first one away and getting a big chunk of yards on the next.

-Chritsian Barmore had a would-be sack of Baker Mayfield during this period, but on the other field Jeremy Chinn made an impressive diving PBU on a ball intended for Nelson Agholor that was a little behind him.

-Rhamondre Stevenson would’ve had a huge gain up the left sideline if it were truly a live game on a nice little swing pass.

-Around 11:25 all hell broke loose. Kristian Wilkerson caught a ball on the Panthers sideline and was sort of dragged down awkwardly by Xavier Woods. I believe he said something (everyone had a slightly different view of this), Wilkerson was then surrounded by a few Panthers and suddenly, the fight was on. Both Kendrick Bourne and Damien Harris were in the middle of it, but only Wilkerson and Bourne were kicked out. It appeared to die down a bit until Bourne and a Panther started throwing punches, which eventually led the Pats’ defense and Carolina offense to come running over from the other field, turning it into a full fledged brawl. Needless to say, Bill Belichick was not happy.

-Two snaps later in the same 11-on-11 period, James Ferentz and another Panther got into a second fight, this one was far smaller though. Ferentz was kicked out of practice.

-The best play of the day came soon thereafter as Parker went up into double coverage and came down with another one of his absurd contested catches. Davon Godchaux blew up a run play in the backfield during this and Dugger added a would-be sack of Mayfield. DJ Moore ended the session with a great catch against Jonathan Jones.

-After some field goal work, the final period for the afternoon was two-minute drills that started right around 11:55. The Patriots’ first defensive unit came up with a great red zone stand to win their possession. Mac led the No. 1 offense downfield – thanks in large part to a nice connection with Ty Montgomery several times – but the drive ended with an interception in the end zone on one final “got to have it” play.

-Jabrill Peppers had two pretty PBU’s when the Panthers’ second unit was out and Shaun Wade clinched another W for the D with an interception on a tipped ball by LaBryan Ray. Offensively, Devin Asiasi closed out the day with a TD catch from Hoyer.

The thousands of fans in attendance sure got to see quite a show on Tuesday. The Patriots D looked dominant, but in fairness, the Panthers’ quarterbacks were mediocre at best. Baker Mayfield had his moments, but both he and Sam Darnold were unimpressive to say the least.

Offensively, it was better than it’s been. There’s clearly still a lack of consistency, but I think it’s more than fair to say the unit passed its first test today. Wednesday is the final open practice for fans and with rain in the forecast, don’t be surprised if there’s a few more tussles between these two teams in some real ugly football weather.