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New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Mike Gesicki of the New England Patriots runs during a drill with quarterback Mac Jones during 2023 minicamp in Foxboro. (Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

The New England Patriots held their 13th open practice of the summer on Sunday, as they get ready for preseason action against the Green Bay Packers. A shorter, walkthrough-heavy day on the lower fields, practice was closed to the public but open to the media.

Here are seven players who stood out for the Patriots during Sunday’s practice, for various reasons…

TE Mike Gesicki

Aug 3, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki (88) makes a catch during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki (88) makes a catch during training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

Gesicki gets a nod for Sunday because he made two great catches down the seam from Mac Jones during 11-on-11. He had to leap and twist a bit to snag the passes, but not excessively. The balls were well-placed by Jones in spots where only Gesicki could get it.

Jones and Gesicki are rebuilding momentum together. After a quiet start to camp, Gesicki has made some of the most impressive catches of the summer in recent weeks. No one else on the roster has Gesicki’s combination of size (6-foot-6, 34-inch arms) and skills in the passing game.

Hunter Henry repped some with the 2’s during Sunday’s practice, with Gesicki taking on more of a lead role at tight end. We wouldn’t read into that at all. But it’s a promising sign that Gesicki is getting meaningful reps with Jones and that the pair are hooking up for dynamic plays down the field.

Aug 3, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki (88) makes a catch at training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots tight end Mike Gesicki makes a catch at 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

Gesicki and Jones couldn’t connect on a third deep pass during the same 11-on-11 session, as safety Adrian Phillips disrupted the route enough to extinguish the play. But Phillips acknowledged after practice that the tight ends’ success in camp has been a welcome challenge.

“You can never have too many threats,” Phillips said. “You got a guy like [Gesicki], he’s a seasoned route-runner, just able to get open, able to add a little savvy to his routes. It makes it that much harder when you’re game-planning.

“It’s tough to go against him and Hunter [Henry] at the same time, but I think that’s making us a whole lot better.”

  • WR DeVante Parker

    Jul 26, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker (1) makes a catch during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker makes a catch during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Parker went up and got a corner fade during a late 11-on-11 red zone session, while matched up against Jack Jones (more on him later). It was a nice connection and refreshing to see for Parker, who at times has had passes broken up on similar plays in team drills.

    Parker and Jones look confident together in the Pats’ new offense. The veteran receiver has always had a lot of talent. He just needs to prove he can stay on the field and produce on a more consistent basis.

  • CB Jack Jones

    Jul 27, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Jack Jones (13) sprints during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots cornerback Jack Jones sprints during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Jack Jones gave up two consecutive catches to Parker and Kendrick Bourne in red zone 11-on-11. In a small show of frustration, Jones kicked the pylon as he ran off after the play. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme, but Jones would’ve been flagged for that in a real game. Hopefully it’s out of his system by the time the real games start.

  • CB Christian Gonzalez

    Jul 27, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez (50) sprints during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots cornerback Christian Gonzalez (50) sprints during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Gonzalez made a late interception during that same red zone period, corralling a slightly underthrown ball by Mac Jones that was intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rookie is sure to have his ups and downs as his first NFL season carries on, but that will mean two things: he’s a starting-caliber cornerback, and he’s playing a lot.

  • OT Sidy Sow

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots guard Sidy Sow (61) blocks Houston Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (51) away from quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots tackle Sidy Sow (61) blocks Houston Texans defensive end Will Anderson Jr. (51) away from quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Sow took snaps with the starters at right tackle during 11-on-11 for the first time in training camp on Sunday. He had been with the No. 2 offense prior to that. Sow came out of college and entered the draft as a guard, but he’s spent most, if not all his time at right tackle for the Patriots. A good sign for the rookie out of Eastern Michigan.

  • OL Riley Reiff

    Jul 27, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Riley Reiff (74) works with a weight bag during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots offensive tackle Riley Reiff (74) works with a weight bag during 2023 training camp. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Reiff has had a rough camp, based solely on how he’s being used. He started out as the No. 1 right tackle, but has since slipped to a backup left tackle/swing tackle role. On Sunday, however, Reiff was tried out at right guard. Something to keep an eye on, as the Patriots remained without both projected starters at the position in team drills on Sunday.

  • QB/WR Malik Cunningham

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 10: Quarterback Malik Cunningham #16 of the New England Patriots reacts during the fourth quarter during the preseason game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on August 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

    Foxboro, MA: Quarterback Malik Cunningham of the New England Patriots during a preseason game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10, 2023. (Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

    The Malik Cunningham Hype Train™ might already be impossible to stop. He grabbed a couple of reps with the starters at quarterback on Sunday. Competition? No. But interesting that he was used in that spot at all. Bill Belichick obviously had some kind of purpose for doing that.

    It’s worth noting that Cunningham also repped at wide receiver in team drills and practiced with the receivers in individual drills. He was fun to watch in the preseason opener and has potential to stick on the roster playing unique, unpredictable roles on the offense. Just not a serious threat on the quarterback depth chart … yet.

  • Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    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. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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