It’s the end of another work week, and here’s the final edition for this week as we head into the weekend.
Mitchell Shines on Thursday – After missing Wednesday’s session, rookie fourth-round receiver Malcolm Mitchell took part in Thursday’s practice and made his first big mark of 2016.
During the practice the Georgia standout made a leaping grab in the end zone from fellow rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett, giving his teammates a glimpse of the type of talent he has that obviously made the Patriots take note of the 6’1″, 195-pound receiver when they selected him.
Mitchell said he’s been encouraged by the reception from his teammates, which appears to be positive so far for the rookie receiver.
“Very supportive teammates,” said Mitchell via ESPN Boston. “That definitely is encouraging.”
That was just a quick flash for Mitchell, but he’s the type of player with a reputation for working hard on every single play. One of his teammates from Georgia pointed out during last season that watching Mitchell turn a simple play into a big gain is something he has a knack for, and something that didn’t come as surprise to him.
“I remember that we really needed a play,” said tight end Jay Rome via DawgNation.com last season. “Malcolm caught a hitch, I want to say, and turned it inside and broke a tackle and then I knew he was going to go the distance from there.”
“I’ve seen him do that before, take a simple play like that and break it. It wasn’t even designed to be a big play. We were just chopping wood. But that’s what Malcolm does, just take an ordinary five- or six-yard hitch and take it to the house. I’ve seen that so many times since middle school.”
If all goes well, what he did Thursday is just the start of more from the talented wideout.
Dobson continues to shine – Aaron Dobson continued to stand out Thursday, with reports of the veteran once again moving and catching the ball well throughout practice and looking like a player with plenty to prove as he tries to make a statement in his fourth NFL season.
There’s clearly a fire that Dobson’s playing with, and the more important attribute is the intense focus accompanying it, which has the former Marshall standout playing at a high level thus far.
Obviously this early in the process those plays are just laying the groundwork for the coming months when consistency will ultimately decide whether or not he’s a contributor for 2016. But given his huge frame and the fact he’s been catching a lot of balls both in traffic and having to fight for others, it’s hard not to continue feeling pretty good about the direction he seems to finally be headed in.
According to Patriots.com, Dobson also got a little recognition from his quarterback, with Tom Brady hitting him for a touchdown pass that eventually lead to a hug along with some encouraging words.
It’s been a long road for Dobson, who after spending two straight years on injured reserve, along with reports about a possible rift inside the team, has had a rocky start after a career that started off with a touchdown catch on his first NFL reception back in 2013.
Despite the controversy and speculation, he’s continued to maintain the right attitude and has obviously continued to work hard, and so far it looks like a lot of it is beginning to pay off.
There’s a long way to go and it’s a pretty deep group of players who will be vying for playing time in this offense. But so far it looks like he’s playing like a guy who isn’t ready to be counted out yet, which is good news for a team that could use someone of his size (6’3″) in their offense.
Malcolm Mitchell was one of several receivers who impressed Belichick this week.
Belichick pleased so far with the receivers – After seeing what’s transpired early on during these sessions, Bill Belichick has to be feeling relatively confident about the cast surrounding Tom Brady heading into this season.
Both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola remain the two biggest question marks, although the general feeling is that these two will be ready at some point for 2016. From there it’s a much deeper group than in past years, with Chris Hogan having looked solid in the early going, which was one of the bigger acquisitions of the offseason when they stole him from Buffalo.
But it’s the players further down that are going to be the more intriguing stories when training camp opens. Dobson’s play has obviously stood out so far, along with Nate Washington and Keshawn Martin both having shined this week. Between those plays along with some good moments from Donald Brown and Mitchell, it’s going to be fun to watch these guys competing hard during what may be one of the most competitive receiver groups of the Belichick era here in New England.
However, it’s not what happens in May that earns a roster spot, but it’s still part of a process that’s important as they try to keep stringing together good practices between now and the beginning of the regular season. Having a group of guys playing well is a great problem to have, and Belichick talked about what he feels has been a good competition so far.
“Yeah. Our receivers have been good,” said Belichick. “We have good competition at that position and they’ve all showed up and made plays down the field, caught the ball well. It’s been good.”
Hopefully it continues getting even better.
Rookie CB Jones Stands Out – It’s been a good week for rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones, who picked off his second pass of the week on Thursday after he victimized Jimmy Garoppolo on a throw to the endzone during a team drill.
Jones has impressed so far, showing great instincts and quickness during his brief time here in New England on the defensive side of the ball, although he muffed a punt during what was a windy afternoon returning punts.
It’s one of those things that happens, especially this early in the process. When asked about what skills Jones has that might make him a productive returner, Belichick downplayed things a bit, saying he’ll let Jones compete and see how things work out.
“I mean, he led the nation last year, so I don’t know, we’ll see,” said Belichick. “We have good punt returners. I don’t know who the best one is. We’ll let them compete and find out.”
TE Williams Likely Done For 2016 – Some bad news on Thursday after Michael Williams’ injury suffered during yesterday’s practice sounds like it could cost him his 2016 season.
Williams, who went down on a non-contact play, was seen clutching his knee as he hit the turf on Wednesday and the outlook doesn’t sound encouraging. According to reports, the veteran tight end suffered a torn ACL and is likely headed to injured reserve, ending his 2016 season.
It’s disappointing anytime a player is lost this early in the process, and it’s another reminder of why having Rob Gronkowski sit during this point of the offseason if he’s not 100% is a wise move on New England’s part.
Williams’ contributions have been significant from the standpoint that he was solid with his blocking ability and he’s been consistent, with the tight end playing in 15 games during 2015. His loss opens up more reps for players down the depth chart like A.J. Derby along with Clay Harbor, who have already gotten a little extra work with Gronkowski not taking part in workouts.
Belichick was asked about Williams’ injury, but to no one’s surprise, he had zero interest discussing it.
“I don’t think we’re doing injury reports here,” said Belichick. “Maybe the league will require us to do those.”
So there you go.
The Patriots have one final practice in front of the media on Monday.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown