New England Patriots

Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

  • Day 3 of Patriots training camp was similar in structure to the first two. The team is still in the unpadded ‘teaching period’ which includes install and a focus on situational work.

    Once again, we got a good look at both sides of the ball in the red zone. That afforded a couple of second-year Patriots the opportunity to stand out. Let’s start with the defense…

  • Interceptions, interceptions, interceptions

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Justin Bethel (29) and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (51) run a drill during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots defensive back Justin Bethel (29) and wide receiver Tyquan Thornton (51) run a drill during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    After getting just one interception through the first two days of camp, the Patriots’ defense had three on Friday. Jalen MillsAdrian Phillips, and Justin Bethel were the ones who picked off passes on Friday.

    Mills’ pick was the lone one that came off Mac Jones. During 11-on-11 work, Jones tried to hit Jakobi Meyers on a short route concept. However, it looked like Jones was expecting Meyers to sit down on his route while Meyers instead broke towards the sideline. The result was a pass thrown directly to Mills, who still managed to make the grab despite the fact he was wearing boxing training pads on his hands (something defensive backs often do in training camp to work on their coverage skills without being able to grab the receiver).

    Phillips and Bethel’s picks both came against rookie Bailey Zappe. In both cases, Zappe tried to test a tight window, with Phillips and Bethel holding onto the ball through contact.

  • Not just the secondary…

    FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 29, 2021: Davon Godchaux #92 of the New England Patriots talks during a press conference during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MA – JULY 29, 2021: Davon Godchaux #92 of the New England Patriots talks during a press conference during training camp at Gillette Stadium on July 29, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

    It wasn’t just the secondary getting their hands on the football on Friday. Defensive lineman Davon Godchaux – who received a sizable contract extension earlier this week – made his presence felt knocking a Mac Jones pass down at the line of scrimmage during 11-on-11s.

    Following Godchaux’s new deal, both he and Bill Belichick highlighted his ability to play multiple roles on the defensive line, and be able to be a factor against the run as well as the pass. It’s just one play in an unpadded practice, but it was well-timed and stood-out due to the focus on Godchaux this week.


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  • Jonnu Smith on the highlight reel

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) catches the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith (81) catches the ball during training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Tight end Jonnu Smith made his presence felt on Friday. He caught a couple of passes, including a touchdown early in practice in 7-on-7s that was likely the play of the day. Smith was running across the end line with tight coverage from Kyle Dugger. Jones threw a well-placed ball up and away from Dugger, which Smith leapt and twisted for. He made the grab over his head away from Dugger, then landed with his feet inbounds.

    Smith caught two touchdowns against Dugger on Friday, continuing what has been a strong start to camp. There’s a lot of attention on the 2021 free agent signing, as he looks to bounce back in his second year in New England.

  • 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

    With Jake Bailey returning to practice, the Patriots did their first 11-on-11 punt game work on Friday. Bailey was really booming some of his kicks, while we also got a look at UDFA Jake Julien. Here’s a look at their hang times through two sessions each…

    Bailey:

    4.76 seconds
    4.97
    4.58
    4.46 (a real wobbler)
    4.93
    5.00 seconds
    4.85
    4.69
    5.32
    4.97

    Julien:

    4.21
    4.30
    4.45
    4.34
    4.43
    3.35
    4.79
    4.33
    4.84
    4.11

  • Laps

    Gillette Stadium Practice Field

    Gillette Stadium Practice Field (Jim Louth/98.5 The Sports Hub)

    Not only was Bailey keeping the ball in the air, he was also putting some serious rotation on his kicks. One of them was such a wobbler, it forced rookie Marcus Jones to muff the kick and have to take a lap.

    Jones wasn’t the only rookie running laps on Friday. During that same punting period, Ronnie Perkins andUDFA LaBryan Ray both committed false starts, and had to run laps of their own.

  • Fun in Foxborough?

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive lineman Cole Strange (50) walks onto the field before training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots offensive lineman Cole Strange (50) walks onto the field before training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Friday’s practice ended with a bit of a competition between some of the Patriots’ younger players. When the final horn blew, the entire team lined up in a tunnel across the fields with offense on one side and defense on the other. Bailey stood on one end of the tunnel, with Marcus Jones and Tre Nixon on the other.

    Jones and Nixon took turns fielding punts but with a catch – once they caught a ball, they didn’t let it go. So after fielding the first punt, they each had to catch the next one while already holding a football. For the third punt, they had to catch it holding two footballs, and on and on. Both players were able to max out at five footballs, once Jones figured out he could stuff a football in his jersey. Throughout the period, the rest of the players cheered on their respective representative from their side of the ball, with Mac Jones taking a leading role in coaching up Nixon and Jalen Mills doing the same for Jones.

    That wasn’t it for the drill though. Once they were done, a couple of rookie linemen squared off in the same format with Cole Strange facing DaMarcus Mitchell. They only went up to two footballs, with Strange earning the win as he ranged a long way to catch the second punt, this time from another rookie in Jake Julien.

  • Attendance

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) walks onto the field before training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 29, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) walks onto the field before training camp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    The Patriots brought back a pair of players from the training camp injury lists on Friday. Center David Andrews and punter Jake Bailey returned to the field after spending the first two days of camp on PUP and NFI respectively.

    With those two back, there are now seven players remaining on those lists for the Patriots. Jonathan JonesJabrill Peppers, and James White are on PUP while Myles BryantChasen HinesQuinn Nordin, and Andrew Stueber are on NFI.

    In addition to those seven, two other players missed practice on Friday. Deatrich Wise wasn’t spotted for the second day in a row, and Brian Hoyer – after being on the field but not getting any reps on Thursday – wasn’t spotted on Friday.

  • What’s next?

    The Patriots wrap up the first block of training camp practices tomorrow. It will be another 9:30 a.m. start for that practice. The session is free and open to the public, with gates opening at 8:30.

  • 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 abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.