Some news and notes for this morning:
1) Mac Jones took a step back on Tuesday as the Patriots were in pads for the first session of training camp. Jones struggled and was picked off and had a couple of near picks, looking uncharacteristically uncomfortable at times, while Cam Newton enjoyed a solid outing and definitely won the day between the two players.
For Jones, it’s likely that a little bit of fatigue has set in given the amount of work he’s been putting in and the mental grind that’s probably catching up with him. Newton talked about it last season as he tried to get up to speed with the system, and he was a veteran NFL player. However, Jones had looked fairly comfortable coming into camp and had a decent few days coming into this week. However, unlike minicamp, the reps have been higher and the pressure Jones puts on himself is also pretty intense, and for the first time on Tuesday he looked like a rookie and didn’t seem to have the same command on his throws as he had in previous practices.
Jones had a couple of passes he threw into obvious traffic, including one that was picked off by Ja’Whaun Bentley in what was clearly a spot Jones shouldn’t have gone to. While he did have some other good moments, he was also off-target on several throws throughout the session. Overall, the rookie just looked out of sync and it was definitely an off day for the former Alabama standout.
Meanwhile, Newton was out there enjoying himself, making quite a few good throws while having one of his best days thus far. He was even seen smiling on the sideline and playing to the crowd at one point, getting the fans who were sitting on the hill closest to the stadium into a competition with the fans in the side bleachers in a noise competition. Newton raised his arms to elicit cheers, making a noise meter with his arm of how he felt they did.
On the field, he hit some big throws, including a 50-yard touchdown to Nelson Agholor and also had another terrific toss to N’Keal Harry on a back-shoulder pass.
While Jones has had some good moments during camp, Newton – to this point – has made enough to make a strong case for himself to remain the starter. Wednesday saw the players shed their pads, which will hopefully give Jones an opportunity to rebound and get himself back in a better place coming off a practice where he’d likely prefer to have some of those throws back.
Either way, it’s been a fun battle that’s likely far from over as we head into these next couple of weeks.
2) One player who has stood out so far has been Kristian Wilkerson, with the former Southeast Missouri State standout continuing to get noticed so far during camp. He’s been seemingly getting more reps as of late, even working his way into the starting offense at times after making plays and clearly getting noticed by the coaching staff.
He had one of his better days on Saturday where he hauled in four touchdowns, including one from each quarterback. But he’s been terrific so far and appears to be on a path to potentially become one of the surprises of training camp, which could see him in the mix in the coming weeks
This is one of the best parts of training camp, which usually sees a few players end up surprising everyone by stepping up and getting everyone’s attention. So far, that’s the category Wilkerson seems to be putting himself into and it should be fun to see how things play out for him.
3) Speaking of receiver, N’Keal Harry has done some good things so far, which definitely makes his situation interesting. The third-year receiver has made some nice grabs at times during camp, including a leaping back-shoulder throw on Tuesday against Jonathan Jones, as well a couple of others where he also had to adjust to the football.
The embattled receiver’s future still remains in question, although Bill Belichick tried to clear the air by recently saying he had a “good conversation” with his player and that the two “have a good relationship”. He wouldn’t elaborate any further and on the field, there haven’t been any signs of any issues on Harry’s end.
Whether or not that means Harry will be on the roster this season remains to be seen. But so far, Harry seems to be doing the right things and has had a good camp, so it will remain a situation to keep an eye on during the coming weeks.
4) Down in New York, former Patriots coach Joe Judge – and current head coach of the Giants – apparently blew a gasket on Tuesday following a brawl on the field that included his quarterback, Daniel Jones.
It apparently started after running back Corey Clement broke off a big gain, which saw former Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan hit tight end Evan Engram with what one reporter called a “very dangerous” to his back/back of neck.
Daniel Jones got into the middle of the full team brawl and Nick Gates had to pull him out. Judge now has his team doing push-ups on the goal line. #Giants
— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) August 3, 2021
Judge immediately went off on his players, making them run full-length sprints as well as do push-ups. He followed that up by having a long discussion with them, which according to reports went on for several minutes.
The angriest I’ve seen Joe Judge. He just called the players together and is lighting them up. Told everyone else to stay out of the huddle. https://t.co/LUFFZgkYv4
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) August 3, 2021
Things during camp tend to get pretty heated, but that was one of the first big stories around the league. However, this next one is pretty scary, so read on.
5) Down in Carolina, there was another altercation that left one player hospitalized while the other was waived within minutes of when it happened.
According to reports, safety JT Ibe hit receiver Keith Kirkwood as he was leaping for the football, apparently striking him in the head in a helmet-to-helmet collision that saw Kirkwood have to be transported by ambulance following the play.
Kirkwood reportedly immediately went down and was motionless on the field. He was then taken off the field in a cart before being rushed to the hospital.
It was a scary situation, with players definitely concerned for their teammate. Ibe was immediately kicked out of practice after the play and waived within minutes after the reports hit Twitter.
Very scary situation with Carolina https://t.co/f8PV20z6Vq
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 3, 2021
The #Panthers have waived defensive back JT Ibe, who injured WR Keith Kirkwood during practice.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 3, 2021
The good news is, reports later confirmed Kirkwood was moving his arms and legs and fortunately avoided serious injury. He’s been diagnosed with a concussion and is expected to be OK.
As for Kirkwood, he expressed remorse for the hit and said it was unintentional.
“I just felt bad,” said Ibe, via the Charlotte Observer. “I looked at him when I landed, and I just felt bad. I asked the trainers to tell him I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit him like that. It wasn’t intentional at all and I’m praying he’s OK.”
“Obviously, I’m in an emotional state right now, but at the end of the day it’s not about me — it’s about Keith being OK.”
MISS TUESDAY’S SESSION?
PatsFans.com forum member FlyboyPatsFan was there and filmed nearly the entire practice, which was really well done and contains some terrific footage.
Check it out below and be sure to Subscribe to his channel on YouTube:
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Corey Clement Evan Engram Ja'Whaun Bentley Joe Judge JT Ibe Keith Kirkwood Kristian Wilkerson Logan Ryan Mac Jones N'Keal Harry Nelson Agholor New England Patriots New York Giants