New England Patriots

  • Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) throws the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    For Mac Jones and the Patriots offense, day 3 of 2022 training camp was more-or-less a continuation of day 2. But at least one highlight play can be looked at as a sign of progress.

    Overall, Jones was 7-of-8 in 7-on-7 drills, but the number dropped to 6-of-11 in 11-on-11. Only one of the 11’s felt “competitive,” with the players in shells and slightly ramping up the contact with just one more practice to go before full pads.

    It was during that competitive red zone session that Jones threw his first interception of camp, which appeared to be a miscommunication between him and receiver Jakobi Meyers. Jones threw his hands up after the play, possibly indicating that Meyers ran the wrong route. The ball landed safely in the hands of cornerback Jalen Mills for the pick.

    The best play of the day from the Jones-led offense came from tight end Jonnu Smith, who certainly has a lot to prove after a trying 2021 season. It came in a reasonably competitive 7-on-7 red zone drill, as Smith lined up against third-year safety Kyle Dugger. Jones dropped the ball perfectly over Dugger, and Smith leaped to reel it in and tapped both feet in bounds to complete the “touchdown.”

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  • Smith followed that up three snaps later with another TD against Dugger. That can be looked at one of two ways: Smith is taking a step forward in year 2 in New England, or Dugger still has work to do covering tight ends. Could be a little column A, little column B. Choose your own adventure.

    Jones completed his first two pass attempts of the most competitive 11-on-11 session of the day, to Damien Harris and Jakobi Meyers. But he then missed on three straight, including the INT. The newly minted Davon Godchaux can be credited with a pass breakup after tipping one pass at the line.

    Kendrick Bourne had another incompletion that was too tough of a play to really count as a “drop,” but still close enough to deem it reasonably catchable. Bourne had to leap backward at the back of the end zone with Mills tight in coverage, and couldn’t quite finish. Mills has had a strong start to camp and looks to be settling in as the clear No. 1 outside cornerback.

  • Back to the positive side of things … other notable plays with Jones throwing included a corner touchdown for second-year wideout Tre Nixon against cornerback Shaun Wade; a TD for Bourne that he capped with a spike and a flourish; and a high-point catch by rookie Tyquan Thornton in a lighter 11-on-11 session, against fellow rookie Jack Jones.

    A pass breakup can also be credited to Wade against DeVante Parker, who was quiet after a strong first two days. Mills, Adrian Phillips, and Justin Bethel each made interceptions, the latter two against rookie Bailey Zappe.

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  • Zappe has a long way to go after struggling with his throwing accuracy and decision-making in his team reps over the first three days. But he did make arguably the single best throw of the day, when he dropped a dime in the back corner to Ty Montgomery. On a day that Brian Hoyer was absent, it was good to see Zappe step up and make a play.

    Overall Thoughts: The 11-on-11 period was slightly better for Jones than it was on Thursday, thanks to a couple of actual completions. But this is a growing narrative to watch for as camp progresses: when it becomes full 11-on-11, and Jones has pass-rushers in his face with limited time and space to throw, can he still connect with his receivers consistently?

    The defense has made it tough on Jones in competitive 11’s the last two days. It’ll be important for the offense to keep showing day-to-day improvement, especially after the full pads come on next Monday.

  • Click here for instant training camp reactions from Ted Johnson, who was live at practice on Zolak & Bertrand. And be sure to keep checking back after every practice for a new Mac Watch.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.