New England Patriots

  • The Patriots offense still has issues to correct and questions to answer, as they head into their first joint practices of the 2022 preseason this week. But for a day, the unit seemed to show progress in a key area: basic communication up front.

    Monday’s practice was in Foxboro was on the lighter side. The players worked in shorts and shells, with a ramp-up to full pads expected in Tuesday’s joint practice with the Carolina Panthers. But there were a lot of 11-on-11 drills and a partial focus on situational work.

    Even compared to previous non-padded practices, the Patriots seemed to communicate better and execute cleaner up front. In previous practices, defenders often got through unblocked. Total breakdowns. They avoided that on Monday.

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  • Frustration seemed to boil over recently for longtime starting center and team captain David Andrews, who gathered his teammates for a talking-to after a particularly bad day of practice two weeks ago. He was obviously fired up last Tuesday, when he got in a heated, physical scuffle with teammate Christian Barmore. Andrews described the situation as “just playing football” when asked about the fight, in particular. But he did acknowledge that the line had a particularly glaring issue to correct with the unblocked pass-rushers.

    “It’s been a problem,” Andrews said. “It’s not acceptable, and as a quarterback, golly, I can’t imagine that feeling. So, we have to be better, everyone has to be better. We all have to be tied in, whether it’s the backs, [Mac Jones], us.

    “Eleven on offense have to be tied in for a successful play each time, and that’s kind of what makes offensive football a little different.”

  • The Patriots practiced without right tackle Isaiah Wynn on Monday, as fourth-year pro Yodny Cajuste stepped up in his place. Cajuste appeared to suffer an injury in last Thursday’s preseason opener, but instead it was Wynn who was absent and Cajuste who was present. Head Coach Bill Belichick said after the game Thursday night that Cajuste is having “the best camp he’s had.”

    It’s unclear whether Cajuste’s presence at right tackle led to an improvement in the overall communication of the offensive line. But at the end of the day, other than Belichick, that buck stops with Senior Football Advisor Matt Patricia. He’s officially listed as the offensive line coach, and has also been calling the plays as the team’s de facto offensive coordinator.

    Patricia has, ostensibly, been stretched thin by his long list of roles so far in camp. A disjointed first few weeks seemed to reflect on that. There’s still work to be done – the defense got to Jones a few times during a late two-minute drill, and the quarterback appeared to have a miscommunication with receiver Nelson Agholor on one play – but Monday was at least a sign that they’ve grown past the “dumpster fire” phase.

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

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

  • “I think all of us are growing and learning as we go, and I think that’s part of something that’s new,” Patricia told reporters Monday. “That’s kind of one of the stages as you go through all of that. You’re kind of a little bit uncertain as you go through it. You try to do the best you can to grind with it, that’s why training camp is so important.

    “This will be another great week for us to be able to obviously see a different team and go out there and practice against a team that maybe hasn’t seen all the plays that we’ve run 17 times over and over and over, and they’re just kind of in a situation where they can jump those plays. It’ll be good to start fresh with that this week.”

    A new challenge awaits the Patriots, whose starters will practice against players on another team for the first time all summer. Those sessions and the subsequent preseason game at Gillette Stadium will be the strongest indications yet of how far along the offense has come with mere communication. We will only be able to evaluate their stature in terms of talent and physical matchups when all the players know their assignments in the first place, and execute in concert, consistently.

    “Tomorrow will be our first big test,” said left tackle Trent Brown, when asked about Tuesday’s joint practice. “Game week, game 1 three weeks away, tomorrow will be a nice gauge to see where we are and see what we need to do before Week 1.”

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) lines up behind center David Andrews (60) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 30, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) lines up behind center David Andrews (60) at the Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Patriots are scheduled to hold their joint practices with the Panthers on Tuesday and Wednesday morning in Foxboro. Gates open to the public at 8 a.m. ET, with practice expected to start around 9:30.

    We’ll be sure to keep you posted throughout the joint practices, including live updates on Twitter and post-practice coverage and analysis. Click here for complete Patriots training camp 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. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.