Some news and notes for this morning:
Belichick Feeling Good About Patriots Preparation So Far
Bill Belichick spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon and one of the things he talked about was the fact that despite being not even two weeks into training camp, his team has already covered what he believes is significant ground so far ahead of their first exhibition game against Houston on Thursday night.
Belichick said they’ve spent a lot of time focusing on situational football and have covered ‘most everything’ to this point, which has him feeling good about where they are.
“I mean, we’ve got most everything in that we’re going to do. We’ve been through every situation on a practice field,” said Belichick. “We covered most of them in the stadium the other night. I mean, there’s always more to do. We’ve covered all of the situations. We haven’t covered every single play we’re going to run, but we’re pretty far along.”
The New England Patriots opened the preseason spending a lot of time on Red Zone work, which was a good portion of the first several sessions they held when things kicked off. Since then, they’ve opened things up a little more and worked on a variety of other areas, but it’s been fairly competitive to this point on both sides of the football.
Belichick added that, with his team back in pads, the goal was to focus on some fundamentals ahead of their preseason contest against the Texans on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. That will be the second time his team will see some time inside the venue, with the club holding a season-ticket holder-only practice last Friday night.
He also told reporters he was pleased with the amount of work they got done and the amount of ground they’ve covered. So far, they seem in a better place than they were a year ago, which is definitely a good sign as they continue getting ready for the 2023 season.
Gesicki Locked In At This Point in Camp
Mike Gesicki spoke to reporters during a rainy press conference after practice on Monday, and one of the things he noted was the level of preparation that goes on here, which he talked about at length.
Gesicki pointed out that Belichick has harped on avoiding mistakes, which Gesicki said has definitely been a point of emphasis to this point in camp.
“Honestly, it’s just our operation, communication, getting in and out of the huddle,” said Gesicki. “Like I’ve said, and it’s been said in the building a ton, ‘Before we win, we must keep from losing,’ and we’ve just got to continue to focus on that and harp on that because these opportunities in the preseason are a good opportunity to iron out some of those mistakes and be ready so this way, once September rolls around and it’s go time, all of our pre-snap operation and communication and all that kind of stuff is ready to go.”
He also went on to say that things are good between he and Mac Jones, with Gesicki noting one part of practice that stood out when it came to Jones modifying his part of things to help make life easier on his receivers.
“It’s good,” said Gesicki on their chemistry to this point. “Today, he hit me on a cross route and obviously it’s raining out and put pretty really good touch on it, not trying to fire it in there in these conditions. I went up to him afterwards and said, ‘Good touch on that because in these conditions, it’s harder to catch the ball, obviously.'”
“He has that awareness which is just another positive to his game. But, I mean, the chemistry’s good, on the field, in the building, outside the building, everything’s good. So I’m excited to be here and excited to keep progressing in that aspect as well.”
Not a Great Day For the Offense
With the rain coming down, the passing game certainly appeared to suffer as it sounds like neither quarterback really had a great day.
Jones was inconsistent as the defense was able to get pressure up front with Cole Strange, Mike Onwenu, and Trent Brown each sidelined. Bailey Zappe didn’t fare much better, with the second-year quarterback seeing a pass picked off while others were batted down.
The latter continues to be an issue, which was something that plagued him in his final outing against Chicago. He also had an issue during the team’s blowout win over the Lions when Zappe had a pass batted back to himself for a reception (a six yard loss), a rare feat by a quarterback.
Undrafted rookie Malik Cunningham saw some snaps at quarterback, with Cunningham finishing with some good moments as the rain ended up allowing him to show off some of his athleticism.
After spending some time at receiver for most of training camp, the fact he got some snaps at quarterback is interesting since it’s hard not to wonder if he’ll see any action there Thursday night.
Last preseason, Jones didn’t appear in the opener against the Giants, with Zappe and former Pats QB Brian Hoyer each seeing the majority of the action in that one. Should Jones sit that one out, it’s possible we could see Cunningham later in that contest behind Trace McSorely should the coaches decide to take a look at him against the Texans.
Mac Jones talked about Cunningham during his press conference, giving Cunningham some credit for the athletic ability the rookie displayed Monday.
“Yeah, it’s awesome, man,” said Jones of his teammate. “He’s very athletic. He’s a smart kid. He works hard. He doesn’t get a lot of reps, but you can see when he’s in there that he’s a little bit of a playmaker. Maybe I can take some of his running ability and add it to my game.”
But overall, by the sound of things, there were a fair amount of contested passes and it was a challenge for everybody given the inclement weather.
Gesicki told reporters he spent some time after practice getting some work in dealing with wet footballs, which is a change from his normal routine of catching balls from the jugs machine. With the rain, the veteran said that wasn’t an option so he spent his time doing that instead.
Boutte Shines Again
While the passing game wasn’t perfect, rookie Kayshon Boutte apparently made the play of the afternoon.
The rookie hauled in a pass from Cunningham that was thrown high, but he was able to reach up and pull it in one-handed Odell-Beckham-Jr.-style before hitting the turf.
After a slow start, it sounds like Boutte’s been gaining some momentum as of late and he’ll be among several players that fans will likely be watching when we get to see the Patriots offense in action Thursday night.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported on Monday that free agent defensive end Trey Flowers was in town for a workout, marking the second time the 29-year old has visited Foxboro this offseason.
Flowers last visited the club in March but hasn’t landed a new deal, with the former Patriot remaining available as he continues looking for his next opportunity.
Injuries have been an issue for Flowers in recent years, with the veteran having ended up on injured reserve in each of the last three seasons.
Flowers was originally drafted by the Patriots in Round 4 of the 2015 NFL Draft, with the former Arizona standout playing with the team until he left via free agency to Detroit in 2019.
Some will remember one of his more notable moments where he made a big fourth quarter sack in Super Bowl LI against Atlanta as the Patriots trailed 28-20 with just under four minutes left in regulation.
On the play, Flowers burst up the middle and overpowered Falcons center Alex Mack, dropping Matt Ryan on a 2nd-and-11 for a huge loss of 12-yards. That play kept the Falcons from potentially moving the chains and maybe even kicking a field goal, which would have possibly sealed it.
Instead, tackle Jake Matthews was called for offensive holding on the next play, putting Atlanta in 3rd-and-33 as Matt Ryan then threw incomplete to Taylor Gabriel.
From there, the Falcons punted away the football to New England, who then took it 91-yards the other way on 10 plays (which included the unbelievable catch by Julian Edelman for 23-yards), with James White finishing the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run to knot the score at 28-28 after Danny Amendola hauled in the two-point conversion.
We all know how that one ended.
Flowers won two rings in a Patriots uniform and certainly put together a nice career for himself up to that point. Whether or not he’s got anything left appears to be the question, so it will be curious to see if he gets another shot to run it back with his former team one more time.
Posted Under: Patriots News