News and Notes from Patriots Training Camp
We are less than a week away from the 1st Pre-season game. The Patriots host the Houston Texans next Thursday at Gillette. Starters usually play a couple of series and are done for the night. Several questions arise about player availability. Matt Judon and Trent Brown have been held out of practice. Are they conducting “Hold-Ins” where they report to the team while in a contract dispute, avoiding getting fined $50K a day for missing practice? They just don’t practice with the team and do conditioning on the lower field. Or is this just the team managing the workload of veteran players? Rhamondre Stevenson is purposely being held out of practice to manage what should be a large workload.
Running Back Needed
I don’t care who they sign but they need another RB to take the load off the three healthy backs they currently have while they manage Rhamondre Stevenson’s workload. They had C.J. Marable in this week. The former Coastal Carolina RB played the last two seasons for the USFL Champion Birmingham Stallions. He ran for 525 yards on 118 carries and 3 TDs, third nest in the league. He was originally signed as an Undrafted Free Agent by the Chicago Bears in 2021 and played for them during the pre-season. He is not fast, running a 4.59 40 at his Pro-Day.
Two Roster Moves
Linebacker Terez Hall was Waived Injured Tuesday with an injury settlement from the team. This doesn’t preclude the team from re-signing him later in the season if he passes a physical. The injury was undisclosed. Hall was well-known for his work in the community and was well-liked by his teammates. I don’t think we have seen the end of Hall who previously failed a physical and was re-signed later.
Wide Receiver Ed Lee was released this week. The Rhode Island Ram alumni was a long shot to make the team. He was signed after he attended the Patriots rookie camp on a tryout basis. The roster currently stands at 88.
Mac Jones Unlucky
Jones was ranked as the 3rd unluckiest QB per Pro Football Focus. He was 13th lowest in turnover-worthy play rate. Only 2.5% of his pass attempts are turnover worthy. Also of note is that 4 of his 10 interceptions were attempts to Devante “Velcro” Parker. That’s the highest of any wide receiver in the league.
- MAC JONES, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Percentage of QB-fault interceptions: 38.5%
(from Pro Football Focus)
Bailey Zappe is One of the Most Accurate QBs in their 1st year
In doing my research on Mac Jones I uncovered that Bailey Zappe was very accurate on his 92 pass attempts with a 70% completion rate. He played in only 4 games against inferior competition and doesn’t meet the minimum requirement of passes for the record held by Dak Prescott at 67.8%. Mac Jones is 2nd at 67.6%, which goes to show how good his rookie year was until Matt Patricia screwed him in year two.
There was a slight change in practice this week that saw Zappe get the number 1 receivers and TEs going against the 2nd team Defense. This was more of a test of Mac Jones playing with backups WRs and TEs to make it more difficult on him. I have seen some sack stats from camp and it says Mac Jones would have been sacked a total of 12 times. Zappe working with a mishmash of 2nd and 3rd team O line would have been sacked a whopping 20 times.
I am quite happy with how Zappe has developed and love his attitude of wanting to be the number one QB. He is working hard and is beginning to understand the offense that Bill O’Brien is installing. Mac Jones had a big advantage in that department having played at Alabama. O’Brien is taking some of those same concepts to New England. Although Jones never played for O’Brien, he was credited with helping O’Brien learn the Alabama playbook in 2021 when OB took over for Steve Sarkisian.
Jack Jones Disappearing Act
For some reason, CB Jack Jones became upset after he broke up a pass targeted for Kendrick Bourne. Coach Mike Pellegrino spoke with him as did Jabrill Peppers but Jones headed off to the locker room only to emerge 20 minutes later and return to the field. He knelt down and did not participate in the remainder of practice. The particular drill they were performing had the DBs wearing mittens so they could not grab and hold the WRs. It appears that one of the reasons the DBs have had a big advantage on the receivers so far is that they have been a bit grabby. If this is true, this will show up in the preseason game Thursday. The report is that Jones threw the mitts to the ground and stormed off. Jones had been running with the ones during goal-line situations due to his height (although he is still slight).
Kendrick Bourne Improving as the Offense as a Whole Improves
Bourne had his best day of camp so far as he was 5 of 7 in competitive drills. I think the difference is that the QBs are not throwing him the ball when they think he is covered or they are not getting down to him as they read their progressions. That may be because they are not getting protection from the line. The QBs will throw to Parker or Smith-Schuster if they are covered. Again we will see next Thursday when they play against someone that wants to take their head off!
Ty Thornton a No Show Again
Thornton did not practice Wednesday or Thursday. This is not a good sign for the second-year player. He has been having trouble getting his release from the line of scrimmage. Who cares about his speed if can’t beat press man-to-man coverage? It is beginning to appear that the slightly built Thornton is going to be a bust.
Boutte Takes Advantage
Kayshon Boutte is beginning to get it. He put together his best practices of the pre-season with Thornton being absent.
Christian Gonzalez is Going To Get Beat
This is a fact. The quality of QBs the Patriots are going to face is going to pick on the rookie. He will get beat, but he is also going to make some plays and most of all learn. He got beat by Devante “Velcro” Parker on a red zone play where he got bodied up by Parker. Most observers thought it was Offensive Pass Interference, with a veteran push-off. Just get ready for this to happen and don’t be disappointed when it does. They are not playing as many stiff QBs as they did last year. It’s going to be hard on the rookie. What I want to see is how physical he will be and if he loses his confidence as the season goes on. A DB in the NFL needs to have a short memory and shrug off those plays where he gets beat, but learn from that experience.
Pop has Popped
The reports are consistent from every reporter covering the camp. Demario “Pop” Douglas has been the star of camp. The diminutive WR is the player that I want to see the most in next week’s pre-season game. The word electric has been used to describe him. He has run those short routes that Edelman ran. He is also a threat as a runner on jet sweeps. The big surprise came this week when he stoned a DB on the block during a WR screen. He has shades of Edelman all over his game. Curious that Edelman was at camp this week. He had this to say about Douglas “He looks quick. He looks good. He looks like he can create separation. He’s good at the line of scrimmage. We’ll see how he does going forward.” Douglas has made a ton of plays in camp and according to Doug Kyed of NESN has been the biggest surprise. In my pre-season 53-man roster projection I had Douglas making the team. I think he is a lock now, and I expect he will be given the opportunity to return kick-offs which makes him more valuable.
Malik Cunningham Working as a Gunner
Whoever is advising this kid is doing a good job? The way to make the team is to show how valuable you can be. Cunningham made a play where he downed a punt inside the 5-yard line. Later he was working as the scout team QB simulating the oppositions scrambling mobile QB. The Patriots will face a few of those this year starting with Jalen Hurts. With Tyquan Thornton having a bad camp, this just might open the door for Cunningham to make the 53-man roster. I don’t think the Patriots want to expose Cunningham to waivers. He would be a Swiss army knife QB/WR/ST player. Julian Edelman had a long talk with him at practice Thursday. Here are Edelman’s words of advice to the rookie Undrafted Free Agent QB turned WR, as told by Karen Guregian of MassLive. “I always tell any young player the same thing, whether you have a rep in practice that’s good or bad, it’s still a bit of experience. So you have to be able to digest that, and put that in your head,” he said. “It’s using every play for a bit of experience, whether good or bad, so you can put things on your tool belt and that’s why I said, make yourself valuable.”
“If you’re making a transition from quarterback to receiver, I was told you better be really great at one thing, and really good at a bunch of things. So make yourself versatile.”
Posted Under: Patriots News