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Wednesday Patriots Notebook 8/2: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
2 months ago at 5:15 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 8/2: News and NotesBob Breidenbach/The Providence Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Some news and notes for this morning:

Patriots QB Spot A Competition After All?

It’s been a full week since the start of training camp, with the New England Patriots beginning their preparation for the upcoming 2023 season.

So far, it’s been quarterback Mac Jones leading the way with the first team during New England’s offensive snaps, while Bailey Zappe has consistently been taking snaps behind him with the second team.

Up until this week, neither player had necessarily been outstanding.  The team kicked off the first few days with red zone work, which saw both guys struggle as they started getting comfortable with both new personnel and a new offense.

Jones had been slightly better, while Zappe started to settle in a bit more after what was a terrific showing on Sunday.  But the overall pace of practice and the personnel groupings has basically made it appear like it’s been Jones’ job to lose.

That said, it sounds like Belichick has been pleased enough with Zappe’s recent turnaround that he’s going to let the second-year quarterback keep pushing Jones to stay on top of his game.

Belichick appeared on Sirius XM Radio this week with Pat Kirwin and Jim Miller and had some interesting comments as he talked about his quarterbacks.

“Mac’s had a good offseason,” said Belichick via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald.  “He was one o four offseason award winners.  First in, last out of the building.  Really does a good job of knowing, being on top of everything we’re doing so he can lead from the quarterback position, in terms of play-calling and those types of things.”

“Zappe’s way ahead of where he was last year, Pat [Kirwan], you talked about that; rookie going into his second year.  And it’s been good to work with [Trace] McSorely.  He has a little bit of game experience, little bit of NFL experience but is still a young player.  So we’ll see how those guys do when the real football starts, the pads come on, there’s a little more pass rush and so forth.”

“But they can all run the offense efficiently.  They’re all smart.  They all handle what we do so everyone else can operate efficiently.  So we’ll give them a chance to compete and see how it goes.”

As expected, Belichick was asked again about it on Tuesday, and he didn’t back Jones or give him a reason to believe he’ll 100% be the week one starter when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles just over a month from now at Gillette Stadium on September 10th.

“Everybody is out here competing, all 90 guys,” said Belichick when asked about his comments.  “That’s what we’re all here for is to go out and compete.”

He was then asked if Jones was his day one starter, and Belichick cut off the question and essentially repeated the same comment.

“Everybody is out here competing,” he said. “Everybody is out here competing.  That’s what everybody is doing.”

While it didn’t seem to be the case a week ago, it definitely seems like a competition between Jones and Zappe could potentially be where we’re headed after all in the coming weeks.

Jones Steps Up On Tuesday

Jones is certainly no stranger to being under pressure when it comes to having to fight for his spot and if he’s feeling any heat, he didn’t appear to show it Tuesday.

He finished with a strong showing after completing 7-of-10 passes in competitive drills, with Jones firing two touchdowns during the team’s final red zone period.

Jones talked last week about being consistent and that’s a word he’s used repeatedly since he arrived on the scene.  For the former Alabama standout, he seems more comfortable putting his head down and doing what he needs to on the field and it appears to be working for him.

There’s still a long way to go and it sounds like he may have another guy nipping at his heels should he falter.  But so far, his approach has served him well to this point coming off what was certainly a tumultuous 2022 season.

Strange Sits Out

After suffering a knee injury on Monday, Cole Strange was a spectator on Tuesday as he stood on the sideline watching practice.

The veteran got tangled up with Lawrence Guy on Monday and suffered an apparent knee injury, but it appears he may have gotten lucky and avoided anything significant after being attended to by trainers and returning to watch the remainder of practice.

Strange appeared in all 17 games last season, playing in 100% of the snaps in all but three games in 2022, including the final eight straight to close out the season.

He quietly became a solid asset on New England’s offensive line and had received a fair amount of praise for what was considered to be a terrific offseason for the second-year player out of Chattanooga.

The fact he’s out there is a positive sign, but he’ll definitely continue to be someone to keep an eye on in the coming days.

Bourne Remains Quiet, Thornton Also Struggling

Kendrick Bourne continues to have a tough start to training camp, with Tuesday’s session being another quiet one for the veteran.

Bourne, who according to reports finished without a catch Tuesday, has just one reception so far and his lack of production remains a quiet area of concern for a group that was already among the bottom of the NFL last season.

Joining Bourne is Tyquan Thornton, who has also gotten off to a slow start.  Thornton didn’t see a single target Tuesday, and he’s yet to stand out during offensive team work.

While it’s still incredibly early in the process, these are two players who will absolutely be critical to their success in 2023.  Hopefully, we’ll start seeing one of them break through at some point, preferably sooner than later.

Hurd Retires

One day after suffering an injury, it sounds like Jalen Hurd has decided he’s ready to walk away from the game.

The wideout is reportedly set to retire, with the former 2019 3rd round pick seemingly deciding he’s had enough.

Hurd made a terrific leaping grab on Sunday on a nice throw from Zappe for a touchdown but he suffered an injury Monday that saw him absent during Tuesday’s session.

Whatever it is he’s dealing with must be significant enough where he’s set to walk away, which is unfortunate after he only recently joined the club last week.

The Patriots wasted little time filling his roster spot, claiming wide receiver Thyrick Pitts off of waivers after he was cut by Chicago on Monday.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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