New England Patriots

  • Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    For their second of three Minicamp practices, the Patriots picked up right where they left off from the first one. Wednesday’s session was similar to Tuesday’s in terms of the focus, tempo, and intensity.

    Wednesday also featured a number of the same standouts on the offensive side of the ball. In addition to those players, a pair of rookies made their presences felt for the first time in Foxborough.

    Here’s a look at which players popped on Wednesday, plus other observations from Gillette…

  • Mac, back-to-back

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Mac Jones followed up Tuesday’s stellar performance on Wednesday. Once again, he made multiple pinpoint throws in team drills. In that, he had four highlight throws that stood out.

    The first of those throws went to Tre Nixon (more on him in a bit). Nixon ran a post from the slot, and Jones perfectly dropped the ball in over the top as Nixon was coming out of his break. He followed that up with a throw to Jonnu Smith on a sideline fade on a play resembling one of his highlight throws from Tuesday to DeVante Parker.

    In a later period, he hit Nelson Agholor in stride on a deep ball up the sideline. And then he made what may have been his best throw of the day, connecting with Nixon up the seam on a perfectly-placed throw into strong coverage from Jonathan Jones about 40 yards downfield.

    It’s notable that many of Jones’ best throws came outside the numbers. His ability to deliver the ball with conviction to some of the harder to reach places on the field shows an improvement in both ball speed and confidence, two things that have been circled as logical points of growth for him in Year 2.

  • Tre Nixon stars again

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots receiver Tre Nixon (82) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots receiver Tre Nixon (82) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    That second throw from Jones to Nixon was impressive, but the catch was really the highlight of that play. With Jones hanging all over him, Nixon brought the ball in with one hand and maintained control through hitting the ground.

    When Cam Newton was still with the team last year, Jones and Nixon seemed to develop a strong rapport working together on the second unit. That chemistry has carried over, and Jones continues to look Nixon’s way often.

    There’s plenty of depth ahead of Nixon at the wide receiver position right now, but there’s also plenty of time left for him to make a case he belongs. With these performances, expect him to be one of the main players to focus on when roster battles start in Training Camp.

  • Tyquan Thornton goes deep

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (51) works with training aids at the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (51) works with training aids at the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    The Patriots have ramped up their rookies slowly in spring practices, but second-round pick Tyquan Thornton seemed to be more involved on Wednesday. His highlight came in 7-on-7s, when he ran past both the cornerback covering him and safety helping over the top to haul in a deep pass up the sideline from Brian Hoyer.

    Thornton has also been repping regularly with the special teams unit. As is the case with most rookies in New England, he may have a role in the kicking game to start his career in addition to his listed positional role.

  • Rookie cornerback stands out

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Jack Jones (53) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Jack Jones (53) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    On the defensive side of the ball, fourth-round pick Jack Jones was the first rookie to have a standout day. Jones has been involved more that most rookies from the practices we’ve seen so far, but Wednesday was his most highlight-filled performance.

    Jones’ day actually started out on a low note – he tweaked something while fielding a punt and walked off the field with a member of the training staff. When he came back though, he made his presence felt with a tip-drill interception. On that play, he lined up on the outside opposite Kristian Wilkerson, who was running a shallow slant. Off the throw from Bailey Zappe, both Wilkerson and Jones got to the spot at the same time. Jones got his hands up first, and held onto the ball through the collision.

    Towards the end of practice, Jones showed up again. This time working against Agholor, he forced a fumble on a play in the flat. It’s those kinds of ‘playing to the whistle’ plays that will stand out as he looks to earn a role with the starting defense.

  • Strange setting a tone

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive linebacker Cole Strange (50) heads to the practice field for the team's OTA. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive linebacker Cole Strange (50) heads to the practice field for the team’s OTA. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    First-round pick Cole Strange continues to be a tone-setter in these practices. On Tuesday, he had to be separated from Matthew Judon late in practice. On Wednesday, he got in a veteran’s face once again. After Malcolm Butler grabbed a tip-drill interception in 11-on-11’s, Strange chased him down to the sideline on the return. While things didn’t get physical this time, there were some extra words exchanged between the two.

    Strange’s nasty streak should make him a fit up front for the Patriots. Multiple times last season, center and captain David Andrews talked about the team having a bully ball identity. Early on, Strange doesn’t seem like the kind of player who will back down from an overly-physical style of play.

  • Offensive line shakeup continues

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Wynn #76 of the New England Patriots looks on after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Wynn #76 of the New England Patriots looks on after the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    For the second day in a row Isaiah Wynn played right tackle for full team drills. Wynn was asked about the change after practice but didn’t say much, generally falling back on the answer of playing “wherever the team needs me.” Prior to practice, Belichick mentioned the team “building depth” when asked about Wynn playing right tackle.

    While it’s too early to assume that will be his full-time position in the regular season, it’s also not a factor to completely ignore either. Further complicating things is the fact that Wynn is in a contract year.

  • Defensive line camaraderie

    Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise (91) and defensive end Lawrence Guy (93) react after sacking Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (not seen) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Nov 14, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise (91) and defensive end Lawrence Guy (93) react after sacking Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (not seen) during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    One small but significant observation through the first few practices of the spring has been how well the defensive linemen all work together, not just during plays but between them as well. Players from that group seem to regularly be coaching each other up, both between plays and staying after practice to do so. Two players who have stood out in particular giving advice have been Lawrence Guy and Bill Murray.

  • Punter hang times

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey (7) walks to the practice field for the team's OTA at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey (7) walks to the practice field for the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Both punters got 11-on-11 work for the second practice in a row. Jake Bailey took reps in two sessions, while Jake Julien repped once. Here’s the hang times from each player.

    Bailey, 1st session:

    4.97 seconds
    4.85
    4.77
    5.11

    Bailey, second session:

    4.47
    4.65
    4.18
    4.61
    4.27

    Julien:

    4.73
    4.37
    4.70
    4.46

  • Taking attendance

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    There were two changes from Tuesday’s attendance. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne return to practice after not being spotted on Tuesday, and defensive tackle Carl Davis was not spotted after taking part in Tuesday’s session.

    Offensive linemen Chasen Hines and Andrew Stueber, defensive lineman Byron Cowart, and kickers Nick Folk and Quinn Nordin weren’t spotted for the second consecutive day. Belichick said before practice that Hines and Stueber – both rookies – “weren’t ready” to be on the field.

    Rookie cornerback Marcus Jones was wearing a red non-contact jersey once again. Jones had shoulder surgery during the offseason.

    There were two players listed who aren’t on the roster, kickers wearing No. 2 (who was also present on Tuesday) and No. 8. They’re likely two of the three kickers the Patriots worked out earlier this week.

  • Go Aggies

    Bill Belichick spent a good portion of Wednesday practice chatting with Utah State defensive coordinator Ephriam Banda. Last season, Utah State went a program best 11-3 and won the Mountain West. Prior to joining the Aggies in 2021, Banda spent four years working with the secondary in Miami.

  • What’s next?

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jun 8, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the New England Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    The Patriots will hold their third and final Minicamp practice Thursday afternoon. Rain is in the forecast, so it could be a session heavy on footwork and ball security drills.