Day 2 of the Patriots minicamp is in the books and the pace was quick with the team moving from different drills at a good clip. We got the chance to go today to see the 2018 team firsthand for the first time on the field.
While the players are practicing without pads, one must take things with a grain of salt, however, this is as close as we’ll get to actual football until training camp begins. Most people describe minicamp and the OTAs as “passing camps” as the teams spend a lot of time working on their timing in the passing game, today’s session was no different.
Here are our observations from camp today:
- Here’s a name to circle and remember…. Corey Bojorquez. The UDFA rookie punter from New Mexico has a big leg. He was right down in front of us and was consistently hitting 45-55 yard punts with incredible height and hang time. Training camp is going to be an interesting battle between him and veteran Ryan Allen. The rookie looked really good today.
- The tight ends seemed to have a really good day in the passing camp. Rob Gronkowski was as animated as in the regular season. With limited to no contact, it was no contest as Gronk dominated whenever he was on the field.
He looked fit and fast and was moving very well. He ran an out pattern and Tom Brady’s pass was low. Gronk had to dive to pick it up. Afterward, he came up to one knee and was animatedly signaling first down. Later he smoked Jordan Richards on a deep ball and did the Gronk high step into the end zone. Troy Niklas is a much bigger target in the passing game than I thought previously. He looked good in positional drills but I thought disappeared a bit in 7-7s and full team drills..Something to watch.
- Speaking of looking like himself, Julian Edelman was very sharp today. He looks like the Julian Edelman we’re accustomed to. I watched him closely when he cut to the left and right seeing if there was any semblance of difference and there was none. That’s a big hurdle passed. Contact will be next.
- Jacob Hollister had a nice day, he was consistently making things happen down the seam and had a beautiful catch over Duron Harmon where they were both fighting for position on the ball. He had another nice catch on a deep cross down the middle.
- Will Tye made a nice grab on perhaps the best ball thrown by Brian Hoyer on the day. Hoyer displayed nice touch and lofted it just over the hands of Pat Chung and Tye was able to bring it down.
- Tom Brady got a bit animated after hooking up on a deep fly to James White down the right sideline. The team attempted those often and Rex Burkhead had a very good day catching the ball out of the backfield.
- Seeing him up close for the first time, Cordarrelle Patterson is really fast. Like really, really fast. If he gets a crack in the return game, he’s gone. He eats up yardage really fast.
Patterson, it seems is going to be given every opportunity to be more than a “gadget player” in the Patriots offense. I expected to see him run some slants and bubble screens and he didn’t. He was running some deep outs, deep slants and being used to stretch the top of the defense.
He spoke with the assembled media after the session and he’s totally bought in to the Patriots way of doing things. He must have said several times that a player, “has to know his role” and “strive to get better in all facets of his game.” He was asked if he does everything fast, even going to the bathroom. Patterson laughed and said, that is one time he likes to go really slow. Everyone cracked up.
- Stephon Gilmore had a really strong day; everyone he covered he smothered in blanket coverage. The QBs were staying away from him. Brady tested the waters once on a deep post to Hogan and Gilmore at the last moment reached in and broke it up.
- Wide receiver is going to be a really interesting position to watch. With Kenny Britt and Malcolm Mitchell out today and Braxton Berrios limited, Riley McCarron was looking pretty good. The 2nd year PS player was getting plenty of looks in the passing game and was getting second-team reps at both kick and punt returner.
- Chris Hogan had a good day and was running routes and getting open all over the field.
- Jordan Richards got burned a few times but then made an interception on a deep Hoyer pass where he overthrew McCarron deep down the field. Richards moved over and easily picked it off.
- Sony Michel looks like he will fit in seamlessly into the passing game with the offense. He looks smooth with good hands coming out of the backfield. But the rookie drew the ire of running back coach Ivan Fears after he whiffed on a block during kickoff return drills.
- Harvey Langi spoke with the media after the session and talked about good it felt to be back on the field. He spoke about the transition for both he and his wife after their terrible accident last fall after the couple was rear-ended at a stop light.
- Former Arkansas coach Bret Bielema continues to work with the coaching staff on Special Teams along with Joe Judge.