Instant takeaways from Day 7 of training camp

Instant takeaways from Day 7 of training camp

The New England Patriots offense spent Wednesday rebuilding its confidence.

The Patriots looked significantly more on-point on Wednesday during an unpadded session. Without pads, they could not use contact, which gave the offense a distinct advantage after two rough days for them during padded, contact sessions. Take away the pass-rush, take away the problem — apparently.

Quarterback Mac Jones hit 13 consecutive passes over the course of 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. He then threw an interception to cornerback Terrance Mitchell after a miscommunication with receiver DeVante Parker. And while Jones has been fiery and frustrated at times during camp, he appeared to laugh off the mixup with a silly oh-no face-palm. He gave parker a high five after the play. The session wasn’t quite as tense as in past days.

Here are our other notes and takeaways from Wednesday’s practice.

Top takeaway: Slow down, fix mistakes

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Bill Belichick told reporters before practice that he intended to correct the mistakes the Patriots had been making over the last two days.

What, exactly, will that encompass?

“Everything,” Belichick said on Wednesday morning.

The offense has been the most obvious place that needs improvement. In 11-on-11s during the two padded sessions, Jones and company drilled were largely unable to move the football both rushing and passing. As mentioned, the offense was much crisper without a live pash-rush. So that might help point to the problem area: the offensive line.

Attendance

Absent: TE Dalton Keene, CB Malcolm Butler
Limited:
QB Brian Hoyer, DL Deatrich Wise, RB Pierre Strong, S Devin McCourty, WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey, RB Rhamondre Stevenson
PUP:
RB James White
NFI:
OL Chasen Hines, OL Andrew Stueber

Notable presences: Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh was out to watch the team he’s now helping assemble under GM Bill Belichick’s leadership.

The little details

The weather: Again, we had a cool morning but the temperature jumped into the high 80s. Clear skies. High humidity.

The pad level: The team moved into shells after two padded practices.

The energy: The team looked laid back on a day that was clearly designed to help the team take a deep breath and recalibrate before (likely) jumping back into pads on Thursday.

Biggest winner: QB Mac Jones

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Sometimes, you just need a get-right day.

Not only did Jones spend the day passing passes in a crisp, timely and sharp manner, but he also didn’t seem to beat himself or his teammates up too badly. The Boston media is crushing this coaching staff for the alterations they’ve made on offense. And while it’s easy to beat up on New England after two ugly practices, it’s also way too early to panic.

Jones’ strong practice sent a message: It’s going to be OK.

Biggest loser: OL Matt Patricia

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If the Patriots offense is great in 7-on-7s (which don’t include offensive line) and during unpadded practices, then (as I’ve mentioned) they’re at their best when they’re not managing New England’s pass- rush. That’s not a good sign for the team’s offensive line, which is under the supervision of Patricia. For now, the defensive line looks a large step ahead of the offensive line.

That’s a situation Patricia needs to amend.

Everything else that’s important

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The Patriots ran a few trick plays both under Jones and Zappe’s watch. And I don’t imagine they’re happy with how those plays look yet. Just like the rest of the offense, the trick plays weren’t fully polished on the first attempt. Jones found a groove hitting receiver Jakobi Meyers during the early session of competitive 11-on-11s. But it was a hard period to evaluate because the Patriots were rotating heavily between starters and backups — including at QB where Bailey Zappe was jumping in and out with regularity. Running back Ty Montgomery continued to get work with the top offense in a third-down role. Belichick said Montgomery has had a “really good offseason.” Belichick added: “He’s pretty versatile, looks like he can do a lot.” Montgomery has lined up in the slot as a receiver, in the backfield as a running back and on special teams as a kick returner. Running back Damien Harris was talking trash with the defense from the sideline during a session of 11-on-11s that he was watching. Jones was operating with a handful of backups on both offense and defense. The Patriots worked on punts for a long session in camp, which featured returners Marcus Jones, Myles Bryant and Tre Nixon. But more importantly, the session featured Jake Bailey, who is fresh off a contract extension. He is booting the ball, with plenty of air time and distance. He remains an All-Pro.

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