New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

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

The New England Patriots held their eighth open practice of 2023 training camp on Thursday in Foxboro, their second day in full pads. Here are 13 players who stood out to us on the field, for various reasons…

WR DeVante Parker

Jul 27, 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 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

Parker had another eventful day, which is not too surprising, since they’ve donned full pads and used the whole field for team drills. But it’s nice to see the Pats’ projected starting “X” receiver continue to be heavily involved.

Parker was targeted five times by Mac Jones in team drills, and made three catches, all in a late 2-minute drill simulation. He beat rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez twice and fellow rookie Isaiah Bolden once.

It wasn’t a perfect day for Parker. Jones also targeted him on an end zone fade, and for the second time in camp, Jonathan Jones broke up the pass in coverage. Parker also had a pass broken up by Bolden during the 2-minute. So, he needs to win contested situations more consistently, especially against smaller defensive backs.

DeVante Parker and Mac Jones of the New England Patriots celebrate after completing a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on Jan. 8, 2023. (Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

DeVante Parker and Mac Jones of the New England Patriots celebrate after completing a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on Jan. 8, 2023. (Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

But if Parker is healthy and happy with the current situation, Bill O’Brien’s revamped offensive system should have him in position to easily outproduce his 2022 per-game averages of 2.4 catches and 41.5 yards, and beat last year’s grand total of three touchdowns.

The “happy” part is really starting to show up with the receivers and Jones. They’ve been stringing solid days together, and celebrating openly after making big plays in team drills. Parker, and for that matter Jones, Kendrick Bourne, and JuJu Smith-Schuster, are having fun, which hasn’t really been a thing since Parker arrived here.

“It’s a good thing. That’s what makes practice easier, just having fun out there,” Parker said after practice. “You don’t want to come in here and not have fun. Practice would probably be long. It’s always good to have fun out here.”

  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

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

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

    Smith-Schuster was again active in team drills, and with both quarterbacks, as the personnel hierarchy was mixed up a bit. He finished a nice intermediate connection with Zappe, albeit on a play that might’ve been a sack in a real game.

    Smith-Schuster caught one other pass from Zappe, then two from Jones in red zone 11-on-11 and another from Jones in the 2-minute drill. He also had a pass broken up by Gonzalez in 1-on-1, so it wasn’t a perfect day. But he continues to be a major piece of the offense in high-leverage drills, perhaps THE piece.

  • WR Kayshon Boutte

    New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (58) makes a catch during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    New England Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (58) makes a catch during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    The rookie sixth-round pick has officially stacked two productive days together. Jones targeted Boutte twice in team drills, with one catch. Boutte also made one catch from Zappe, and it was perhaps the most impressive single catch of the day, as he adjusted his body through the air and tapped both feet in bounds as he came down with the ball.

    Boutte also appeared to run the wrong route during one snap in which Jones targeted him about 15 yards down the field. The ball was in severe danger of an interception due to the miscommunication, and there’s no doubt that the rookie and not the third-year starting quarterback did the wrong thing. But it’s promising to see Boutte start to get involved in a possibly percolating competition for snaps at receiver.

  • WR Tre Nixon

    Jul 26, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tre Nixon (82) makes a catch during training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Jul 26, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tre Nixon (82) makes a catch during training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Easily Nixon’s most active and productive day of camp. Big reason for that is repping with Mac Jones through the first few sessions of 11-on-11, and drawing three targets. On his first target, he grabbed a step or two of separation from safety Jabrill Peppers and corralled a well-placed deep ball by Jones down the left sideline.

    Nixon made another catch from Jones two snaps later, about 10-15 yards down the left side. Unfortunately, Nixon’s third target was intercepted by Kyle Dugger on an in-cut, as the receiver appeared to fall before getting to the throw. So, still work to do for Nixon, but it was nice to see him throw his name in the hat in the receiver battle.

  • WR Raleigh Webb

    Jul 27, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Raleigh Webb runs a drill during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Jul 27, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Raleigh Webb runs a drill during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Realistically, Webb is nothing more than a regular in special teams coverage. But occasionally, he gets a surprising amount of separation on his routes and makes catches taht pass the eye test. He got reps with Zappe and the 2’s in team drills on Thursday. He may very well maintain his roster spot by establishing himself as an emergency option on offense.

  • RB Rhamondre Stevenson

    Jul 26, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson (38) runs with the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson runs with the ball during 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    A day after Stevenson was limited due to reported load management, he was back to being heavily involved. Stevenson got first reps in run game drills and caught 4-of-5 targets from Jones in 11-on-11.

  • 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)

    It was a strange day for Jack Jones, who appeared to be temporarily ejected from practice after losing his cool following a drill in which he allowed a catch to Bourne. Jones left as Peppers had his arm around him, appearing to calm him down. Jones later returned to practice and had long talks with both teammate Jalen Mills and Patriots Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh.

    He’s mainly repped with the 2’s in team drills with occasional reps with the 1’s, so perhaps Jones is getting a little frustrated. But that was not the kind of scene that the second-year corner wants to make, with his future uncertain amid a serious legal situation.

  • S Kyle Dugger

    Kyle Dugger on the first day of 2023 New England Patriots training camp in Foxboro, Mass. (Jim Louth/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Kyle Dugger on the first day of 2023 New England Patriots training camp in Foxboro, Mass. (Jim Louth/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Dugger gets a nod for grabbing his third interception of Jones so far in camp. It was a much-needed playmaking moment from the defense after a good few days in a row for the offense. Dugger is in line for a productive season, as a major piece of the Patriots defense in a contract year.

  • S Adrian Phillips

    Dec 12, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New England Patriots safety Adrian Phillips (21) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots safety Adrian Phillips (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

    Phillips made the other interception in 11-on-11, against Zappe on a throw over the middle of the end zone. The decision and throw actually resembled Jones’ first two picks early in camp. It’s not surprising to see arguably the Patriots’ deepest defensive positional group be the ones to battle back against a cooking offense.

  • LB Calvin Munson

    Aug 3, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Marte Mapu (52) lines up across from linebacker Calvin Munson (43) at training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots linebacker Marte Mapu (52) lines up across from linebacker Calvin Munson (43) at 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Munson made a nice form tackle on Kevin Harris in a 1-on-1 live tackling drill, and looks like a regular in special teams coverage. It wouldn’t be surprising if he snuck in at the end of the roster, especially since he’s getting the occasional look on defense, too.

  • K Chad Ryland

    Jun 12, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (62) warms up at the Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots kicker Chad Ryland warms up during 2023 minicamp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    The rookie was back to being the primary kicker in team drills and situational work. On Thursday, as part of the 2-minute, the Patriots’ field goal unit practiced running on the field for a last-second field goal as precious seconds ticked away. They got a clean kick off with about five seconds to spare, and it was good.

    Ryland should be considered in the lead to supplant Nick Folk as the kicker for 2023. His pure leg strength blows Folk’s out of the water, and he’s stringing together accurate kicks lately.

  • DB Isaiah Bolden

    Jun 12, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Isaiah Bolden (63) pulls a sled at the Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots defensive back Isaiah Bolden pulls a sled at 2023 minicamp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Bolden had the aforementioned pass breakup against Parker in the late 2-minute drill. While the rookie seventh-round pick out of Jackson State may still be far from securing an actual spot on the 53-man roster, it’s notable that he’s sprinkling in reps with the starting defense. He feels like at least a lock for the practice squad.

  • OL Atonio Mafi

    Jul 26, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots guard Atonio Mafi (55) makes his way to the practice fields for training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots guard Atonio Mafi makes his way to the practice fields for 2023 training camp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Mafi gets a nod for the fourth straight day. And it’s not just because he continues to rep with the starters at right guard amid multiple injuries on the offensive line. He also held his own in a 1-on-1 drill against Christian Barmore. Mafi merely holding up for a few seconds against the explosive Barmore, who ate Bill Murray’s lunch in the same drills on Wednesday, can count as a win for the rookie.

  • 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.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.