New England Patriots

Jun 10, 2021; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight ends Devin Asiasi (86) and Matt LaCosse (83) and Troy Fumagalli (88) participate in drills during OTAs at the New England Patriots practice complex. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Compelled by the situation to “take a chance,” on a third down from inside the 5-yard line, with just seven seconds left, Cam Newton let go of his final pass in Monday’s joint practice with the Eagles and threw into a crowded middle of the end zone. 

Although the resulting interception by linebacker Eric Wilson on the back end of the play spoiled the Patriots’ bid to score on Newton’s final 11-on-11 series, up front right tackle Trent Brown finished off an impressive sequence against Philly’s outstanding pass-rushing tandem of Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox.

Three plays earlier, while Newton was hitting Nelson Agholor, who leaped to make a grab in traffic, Brown stiff-armed Graham, who had lined up wide, off tight end Devin Asiasi’s outside shoulder. Charging around the edge, Graham, who recorded the critical strip sack near the end of Super Bowl LII, had a bead on Newton until Brown extended his punch and stopped Graham in his tracks.

On the next snap, Newton “clocked” the ball to preserve time, before firing behind a well-covered Asiasi in the middle of the end zone. But not lost amid the incompletion was Brown winning his matchup with Graham.

  • Hard Opportunity Knocks

    Meanwhile, a position of presumed strength coming out of the spring suffered a third loss to injury this summer, after tight end Matt LaCosse collided with Eagles’ defensive end Derek Barnett on a crossing route early in 11-on-11 reps.  

    With Hunter Henry (shoulder) and Jonnu Smith (ankle), two of the Pats’ marquee signees in this year’s free agent class, already injured, LaCosse was elevated alongside second-year Devin Asiasi as the top tight ends at the outset of Monday’s practice. 

    LaCosse did not reappear after receiving medical attention on the field and eventually walking to the sideline. Meanwhile, Asiasi earned notice blocking and receiving.  During 7-on-7’s, Mac Jones found him in the hole of Philly’s zone coverage.  With Jones quarterbacking the Patriots in a later 11-on-11 drill, Asiasi elicited an excited reaction from teammates and coaches blocking for Damien Harris.

    Despite a difficult rookie season and late start to his sophomore camp, Asiasi has an opportunity to advance his development as the potential third tight end behind Henry and Smith.  Especially in this week’s practices and game in Philadelphia.

  • Sibling Rivalry

    The Patriots preseason opener vs. Washington allowed the Wise brothers, Deatrich Jr. and Daniel to reunite at Gillette Stadium.  As the elder, Deatrich is in his fifth year with the Pats after re-signing with the team as unrestricted free agent.  Meanwhile, Daniel, who was originally signed by Dallas, is trying to make Washington as a “depth piece” along the defensive line. He landed in Thursday’s box score with a quarterback hit on Jones.

    Well, this week the ‘City of Brotherly Love,’ is the site of a Michels’ reunion.  Sony, you know as a now fourth-year Patriots veteran running back.  Marken, you may be familiar more so as a former UMass Minuteman and than as a practice squad receiver for the Eagles and Panthers most of the past two seasons (he was called up for two games by Carolina in 2020).  

    Last Tuesday, Marken returned to the Eagles after he was claimed off waivers before their preseason opener vs. Pittsburgh.  He didn’t play against the Steelers, but was active opposite the Pats Monday in his No. 17 jersey.  Prior to practice, Marken got a big greeting not only from his big brother, but from Sony’s running mates Brandon Bolden, Damien Harris and James White.

  • A few quick hitters

    • Receiver Kristian Wilkerson continues to get open with some regularity, but as evident in recent home practices and the preseason opener, his hands are inconsistent.  On Monday, Wilkerson seemed to be fighting the ball even more than we’ve seen in earlier practices and the game against Washington…


    • Philly’s second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts, who after being thrust into the lineup behind a banged-up offensive line and often found himself on the run in 2020, used his legs Monday either by design or to extend several plays that ended with perfect throws.  As a second-round pick, Hurts looks to have first-round tools…


    • Finally, Hurts’ ex-Alabama teammate Jones caught the attention of reporter Mike Reiss by wearing a brace on his left knee and spoke about it after practice.  One couldn’t help but notice the rookie later as one of the last group of Patriots to exit the Nova Care complex, carrying on a time-honored, NFL tradition.  Jones headed out, toting his jersey and shoulder pads in one hand…and Newton’s jersey and pads in his other hand.