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MORSE: Final Thoughts on Patriots Mini-Camp Day 2 and Morse’s Morsels

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
6 months ago at 10:21 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

MORSE: Final Thoughts on Patriots Mini-Camp Day 2 and Morse’s MorselsJun 12, 2023; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) runs after making a catch at the Patriots minicamp at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Day 2 of Mini-Camp

Missing from Mini-Camp

The following players were absent:

WR JuJu Smith Schuster – Inj

WR Tyquan Thornton – Inj soft tissue

WR Kayshon Boutte – Inj Undisclosed

OL Michael Onwenu – Off-season surgery

DE Keion White – Inj Undisclosed

DL Justus Tavai – signed Monday Night West Coast travel

CB Quandre Mosely – Undisclosed

DL Lawrence Guy – Contract Issue per Mike Reiss

Defense Dominates

The Patriots used their first three draft picks on Defense when most fans felt the Offense needed the help.  Christian Gonzalez, Keion White, and Marte Mapu have all looked the part in shorts and shells.  At some point, all three have been running with the first team.  Add them to a group that was already a top-10 defense and the #1 scoring defense, you may have a group that can shut down some of these high-powered offenses they will be facing this season.  I am very excited to see Gonzalez, Jack Jones, and Jon Jones playing with the 4 safeties, Phillips, Peppers, Dugger, and Mapu.  All 4 safeties have the ability and flexibility to play multiple positions.  The Offense is not going to be able to read this defense easily. The Defensive lines’ ability to stop the run does concern me, especially if Lawrence Guy (currently a holdout) is not on the team.  Mac Jones has to play against this defense every day in practice, and this should make him a better QB.   Another point is the stability of the Defensive coaching staff.  Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo are back and will have Bill Belichick’s undivided attention to help the defense.  Bill Belichick is leaving the Offense strictly in Bill O’Brien’s hands.

Mac Jones

All reports had Mac Jones with another very good day passing.  Most of the plays are high percentage, short passes (dump off to RB, screens, TE routes).  Occasionally, he will throw one deep and he had a TD pass to DeVante Parker, a 50/50 ball that Parker beat Jon Jones for.  Another was a seam pass to Mike Gesicki and then a similar pass to Hunter Henry on the other side.

Kendrick Bourne

Bourne has had the opportunity to shine while JuJu Smith-Shuster and Tyquan Thornton have been out of minicamp with injuries.   He has run through the drills and looked good but not one reporter has mentioned anything that he has done that is out of the ordinary!

The Trent Brown Enigma

Brown has not attended any OTAs and his flight was canceled due to weather and he missed the opening day of the mini-camp.  He has had no face-to-face time with new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, and no time with the new offense that Bill O’Brien is installing.  Last season, he played like he didn’t care and did not want to be here.  To describe him as lackadaisical is an understatement.   We got our first look at Brown and I do not like what I saw.  Brown historically has been overweight and out of shape.  He has weight clauses in his contract that he likely won’t meet.  A tub of goo is the best way to describe the shape that Brown showed up to mini-camp in.  His appearance is an insult to the Patriots organization and a slap in the face to Bill Belichick.  He half-heartedly walked through the warm-up exercises, then ran one rep of a lineman drill when the training and conditioning staff dragged him down the lower field to work on conditioning.  He was never seen again on the main field.  The Patriots cannot rely on Trent Brown and they need to cut him and take that $10M savings from the salary cap and invest it in other places.  Brown is an embarrassment.

The Patriots have backed themselves into a corner by not investing in either a top-tier Free Agent OT or drafting one.  I hope that DE Keion White turns out to be a great player because the Patriots needed an OT and they had a chance to draft Alabama / Vanderbilt LT Tyler Steen at 46.   Steen had 4 years of experience as a starter in the SEC and met the Patriots’ requisites for height (6’6”) and weight (321 lbs).  Their situation is so bad at tackle they should have drafted two tackles.  If they end up with a 6 win season as I predicted, they will have another high draft pick to select a tackle next year.  I don’t blame them for trading pick 14 and then selecting Gonzalez at 17.  They did not like Georgia tackle Broderick Jones.  It may have been his lack of career playing time.  The Patriots like their draft picks to have at least 26 starts.  Getting Christian Gonzalez at 17 was a steal and could set up the defense for years to come.  They needed a CB too, so taking Gonzalez was a no-brainer.

Bailey Zappe Struggled   

Zappe got some reps with the 1st team and was just not on the same page with them.  He fired one ball into the seats and was just off all day.

Jack Jones Excels

He had a nice INT on a deep ball, undercutting Parker.  Jones also had a PBU of a screen pass and later another PBU.  That’s at least one PBU in every practice open to the media.  He is emerging as one of the starting outside cornerbacks.

Player Interviews

DeVante Parker wanted nothing to do with the questions being asked about DeAndre Hopkins conjecture.  Hopkins, if signed, would eat into Parkers’ playing time and if I had my way, take his roster spot.

Jabrill Pepper was very candid in his remarks after practice.  He may have given away some of the “trade secrets” of the defense as well.  He talked about “being in the box and reading the triangle”, without going into any details.  Talking about his injury that knocked him out for the season two years ago with the Giants, he is completely healed and healthy and gave the strength conditioning staff the credit.  The humidity at practice yesterday surprised some of the players and they were having some cramping problems.  Peppers also talked about how he is more comfortable and the coaches are comfortable with him, as he saw almost 50% of the defensive snaps last year.  He is a hitter in the mold of Rodney Harrison and I am glad the Patriots were able to retain him.

Belichick Cancels Final Mini Camp Practice

As has been his tradition in recent years, Head Coach Bill Belichick sent the players off with an extra day off.  We will not see the players again until the start of Training Camp in July.  The Patriots have not announced when Training Camp will start.  Many of the players and coaches try to squeeze in a vacation with their families during this “dead period”.  I will use the time to complete the analysis of the Offense, create a Pre-Training Camp 53-man roster projection, and write up another blast from the past.

Morse’s Morsels

Bill Belichick when asked if Jabrill Peppers is more comfortable in Year 2 in the Patriots system: “Oh yeah. My god, yeah. He’s a much different player than he was this year than he was last year in training camp. … He’s playing fast, impressive. Helping teammates.”  Peppers is actually coaching up the young players Mapu and Bledsoe.

Comings and Goings

Coming Back

DT Justus Tavai was re-signed late on Monday.  My question is why was he let go in the first place?  If he was that good, he shouldn’t have been let go because the Patriots didn’t need the roster spot.  Could it be Lawrence Guy’s holdout has created a void?  Guy is not participating in the mandatory Mini-Camp because of a contract issue.  He wants to be paid like a starting DL.  Since he is 33 years old, and that is old for a D-lineman, he wants to cash in while he has some leverage.  Guy has two years left on his contract that pays him $2.7M a year.  I did not have him making the final roster because of his age.  Tavai is an undersized DL at 6’1” and 285 lbs and I don’t see him as a credible replacement for Guy.  The Patriots did not draft any Defensive Tackles.  They were down a spot before they released RB James Robinson and CB Tae Hayes.   The roster stands at 88.


DeAndre Hopkins left Tennessee without a contract and will be in Foxboro on Thursday and Friday.  Let’s hope he doesn’t get away.

DJ Fluker worked out on Monday and no word about Fluker signing an agreement with the Pats.  Given the horrible shape that Trent Brown is in and what is apparently a really bad attitude, the Pats might take a second look at Fluker.   Fluker has only played Right Tackle and that would push Rielly Reiff over to Left Tackle.  Reports out of camp have said that Left Tackle Calvin Anderson has been easily beaten by Matt Judon and Josh Uche.   A lot of NFL tackles have been beaten by Judon and Uche.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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