New England Patriots

New England Patriots

New England Patriots

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

On Tuesday, the New England Patriots returned to the practice field for the first time since their Week 2 preseason matchup with the Green Bay Packers. Tuesday’s practice was the first of two this week leading into the preseason finale, with the final official training camp practice of the summer coming on Wednesday. These practices were originally scheduled to take place in Nashville as part of joint practices with the Tennessee Titans leading up to that Friday night finale, but were cancelled after Saturday night’s game was suspended early following an injury to rookie cornerback Isaiah Bolden.

In their first on-field action in three days the Patriots held a non-padded practice on Tuesday. It was heavily situationally focused, with an emphasis on the two-minute drill. There were also considerable special teams reps, mainly in the form of kickoff and field goal drills.


READ MORE:

Patriots roster projection 3.0
— Putting names and numbers to the Patriots’ roster bubble
— 12 takeaways from the Patriots’ preseason matchup with the Packers


A lot of what we saw in this practice was a continuation of the storylines from last week’s joint practices and preseason game with the Packers. That was especially true on a player-to-player basis.

We’ll get to that but first let’s check in on the bigger story – which players returned to practice on Tuesday and the new absences as well.


Attendance

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)

Four players returned to the field for the Patriots on Tuesday after missing various amounts of time. Tight end Mike Gesicki, wide receiver Ty Montgomery, running back Pierre Strong, linebacker Ronnie Perkins, and offensive lineman Kody Russey were all back at practice. Of that group, all but Gesicki were limited to positional drills. Gesicki took part in some team drills although was wearing a red non-contact jersey. Strong was in a non-contact jersey as well.

There were three ‘new’ absences for the Patriots. One was wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, who left Thursday’s practice against the Packers early after landing hard on his shoulder. He also didn’t dress for Saturday’s preseason game. Isaiah Bolden was the other new absence, with Bill Belichick telling reporters before practice that Bolden is in concussion protocol. Wide receiver Tre Nixon, who was also injured on Saturday night, was also out on Tuesday.

As for continued absences, cornerback Jonathan Jones and offensive linemen Cole Strange and Conor McDermott did not take part in the practice. Guard Mike Onwenu, defensive lineman Trey Flowers, and special teamer Cody Davis remain on PUP while offensive tackle Calvin Anderson remains on NFI.


  • Chances for depth receivers

    Aug 1, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Thyrick Pitts (13) runs with the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 1, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Thyrick Pitts (13) runs with the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    With Tyquan Thornton and Tre Nixon out, and Ty Montgomery and Demario Douglas limited, the Patriots wide receiver depth was tested today in team drills. With that, some of the team’s depth receivers got a shot in the spotlight. Malik Cunningham saw plenty of time there, as did Raleigh Webb. It was also the most involved practice of the summer for UDFA Thyrick Pitts.

    In fact, Pitts was on the receiving end of the catch of the day. On a deep go route on the boundary, he went up for a jump ball against Christian Gonzalez on a throw from Bailey Zappe. Pitts high-pointed the ball perfectly, and caught it fading away down near the goal line. Given the Patriots’ wide receiver depth a roster spot may be a long shot for Pitts, but plays like that will help him earn practice squad looks.

  • Rookie wide receiver keeps momentum going

    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)

    As for the receivers expected to be in the Patriots’ regular rotation, Kayshon Boutte was a standout on Tuesday. He had five catches during team drills, including a deep ball on a touchdown from Bailey Zappe.

    Another little thing that stood out about Boutte’s day – there are a few instances where he appeared to be helping other receivers get set correctly before the snap. It’s not super uncommon for players to help each other get lined up before a play, but to see a rookie doing so suggests a good grasp of the playbook.

  • Slot corners stand out

    Jun 12, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant (27) works out at the Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots cornerback Myles Bryant works out at 2023 minicamp in Foxboro. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Jonathan Jones still projects as the team’s slot cornerback, but it’s now been a few weeks since he’s practiced. If he can’t go to start the season, it would be between Marcus Jones and Myles Bryant for that role. Both players had strong showings on Tuesday. Jones had a couple of pass breakups, and Bryant intercepted Mac Jones targeting JuJu Smith-Schuster during a two-minute drill late in practice.

    While those two are primarily slot cornerbacks, they saw a good number of reps on the boundary as well on Tuesday. That’s been the case for Jones for most of camp, but was a new look for Bryant.

  • Heads up play by Kendrick Bourne

    Jun 12, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) runs after making a catch at the Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne runs after making a catch at 2023 minicamp in Foxboro, MA. (Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

    Although Marcus Jones technically had two pass deflections, he could have had three. Early in practice, he was able to reach in front of a Mac Jones pass to Kendrick Bourne and pop the ball straight up in the air. However, Bourne tracked the ball and was able to get back under it to complete the circus catch. That stood out as a heads-up play by the veteran wideout.

  • Busy day for Zeke

    Ezekiel Elliott of the New England Patriots during a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers. (Marc Cappello/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Ezekiel Elliott of the New England Patriots during a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers. (Marc Cappello/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    In his first practice in Foxborough, Ezekiel Elliott stayed busy. He worked with multiple offensive units, and caught three passes on top of his involvement in the running game.

    When the Patriots first signed Elliott, there were a lot of questions about his usage. The instant thought is that he’d be a situational player – specializing in short-yardage and goal line situations with a pass blocking role as well. But given his workload in the brief time he’s been with the team, it’s tough to rule out the team could be looking to have him and Rhamondre Stevenson split on a drive-by-drive basis instead – something they tried doing with their running back room last year before injuries took their toll.

  • Kicker struggles

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (38) kicks the ball to the Houston Texans during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (38) kicks the ball to the Houston Texans during the first half at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    It was a rough day for both Patriots kickers on Tuesday, but in particular it was a tough one for Chad Ryland. During an 11-on-11 field goal drill he went 0-for-3, missing all three kicks left from about 40 yards. The misses progressively got wider and wider, culminating with him missing the back net entirely on the final rep. However, he did bounce back with a make on his lone rep during the team’s two-minute drill work late in practice, hitting from approximately the same distance, right down the middle.

    Nick Folk had a miscue as well. He didn’t attempt any field goals during the day, but during a kickoff drill had one of his kicks sail out of bounds. In a game that would be a penalty, and give the ball to the offense at the 40-yard line.

  • What’s next?

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 19: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on before a preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on August 19, 2023 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

    The Patriots will be back on the field on Wednesday for what will be their final formal training camp practice of the summer. After that they’ll get ready to head to Tennessee for Friday night’s preseason finale against the Titians, which will then lead into roster cuts on Tuesday, August 29.

  • Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].

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