Some news and notes for this morning:
Offense Turns It Around Thursday
After the Patriots closed out Wednesday’s practice on a sour note, which led to an explosion by Bill Belichick and a talk with his players after it ended, things seemed to take a drastic turn on Thursday.
According to reporters who were on hand for the session, the intensity was ratcheted up significantly, and the results were drastically better.
Quarterback Mac Jones was on fire Thursday, missing just a handful of throws while completing some terrific deep balls down the field. He was extremely accurate and the offense moved the football extremely efficiently from start to finish, which was a nice change from what had occurred the day before.
One of his most notable moments came after he hit a bomb to DeVante Parker for a touchdown, which came after things had started to get relatively heated between the two sides.
Prior to that play, there were multiple exchanges between Packers defensive back Jaire Alexander and Patriots safety Jabrill Peppers, as Alexander was jawing at him with Peppers giving it right back to him before coach Mike Pellegrino finally stepped in.
Alexander may have wanted to save his energy because, on the next play, Parker beat him for the touchdown.
Following the catch, with emotions already being high, players from the defensive side even came out to celebrate the score, which was a fantastic moment for a team that finally seems to be coming together at the right time.
Jones also hit an earlier bomb to Tyquan Thornton, which went for over 50-yards as the second-year wideout dove for the football and made a nice grab. However, Thornton apparently got banged up on the play and left practice and didn’t return.
Overall, Jones put together what many believe was one of his best practices in this setting as a pro, and it appears like Thursday may have been just the type of performance this team needed to turn the corner and start building some momentum heading into the start of the regular season.
White Suffers Injury, Thornton Also in Question
One notable injury, in addition to Thornton’s, was rookie Keion White, who also left practice on Thursday.
White reportedly suffered a leg injury during the joint session, which saw the rookie stay on the ground briefly before walking off under his own power.
The one positive with White was that, unlike Thornton, he remained on the sideline but didn’t participate in the remainder of practice.
That now puts his status in question heading into tomorrow night’s contest, which will be something to monitor.
As for Thornton, his injury is also one to keep an eye on given that he suffered a fractured collarbone during last year’s preseason.
The former Baylor receiver has already had a tough camp and had finally seemed like he was starting to settle in, with Thursday’s injury being a setback that he certainly didn’t need.
Both rookie receivers Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte each had productive outings and have both had some fairly good moments in camp, which is good news if Thornton misses any additional time.
But for a club that needs every bit of explosiveness it can get, one can only hope that whatever injury Thornton suffered isn’t serious.
Jonathan Jones Making Progress
After suffering an injury early on in camp, defensive Jonathan Jones appears to be making progress toward a return.
The veteran suffered an undisclosed injury a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t practiced since, but it sounds like he’ll at least potentially be ready to go ahead of the regular season.
MassLive.com’s Karen Guregian reported on Friday that the team is “being careful” with him but that Jones “seems to be ok,” citing a source.
With Jones sidelined, second-year defensive back Marcus Jones has reportedly been seeing a lot of time opposite Christian Gonzalez with mixed results.
The club still also has some uncertainty with Jack Jones, who saw his court date pushed back from what was initially set for today (August 18th) but is now set for September 15th.
Jonathan Jones has been a key member of this secondary in recent years, often drawing the duty of covering opponents’ fastest players, and has done a solid job.
He’s someone Bill Belichick has also repeatedly spoken highly of, and the team again took a step to keep him in the fold after Jones agreed to a new two-year deal earlier this offseason.
Elliott Settling In
Running back Ezekiel Elliott took part in Thursday’s session, which came one day after he was essentially a spectator during Wednesday’s practice.
But that changed on Thursday, with Elliott running the football on a handful of plays and he also apparently is settling into a leadership role with his new team.
WBZ’s Dan Roche pointed out a moment where Elliott helped Bailey Zappe get through a rough patch yesterday.
“One notable moment for me from Elliott involved QB Bailey Zappe,” wrote Roche. “After Zappe threw a pick down by the goal line, Zeke gave Bailey a pat on the back and was talking to him.”
“Later towards the end of practice, Zappe found Kayshon Boutte on a TD pass. Elliott ran straight to the Pats QB to celebrate. Nice to see from the veteran newcomer Elliott.”
Given some of the additional comments by Mac Jones earlier in the week, Elliott appears to be well-liked and seems to be fitting in quite well thus far.
That’s good to see, as he’ll likely play a key role in balancing the workload with teammate Rhamondre Stevenson, while also hopefully seeing the effectiveness he had in the red zone in Dallas translate here as well.
Odds and Ends
Linebacker Anfernee Jennings was thrown out of practice after coming to the aid of rookie Keion White following an incident between White and Packers linebacker Keshawn Banks. Banks reportedly got into it and took a swing at White, with Jennings coming out of nowhere and leveling him, tackling him to the ground. Belichick’s policy about fighting is strict, but he was probably happy to see Jennings sticking up for his teammate. … White was reportedly later involved in another altercation where Green Bay linebacker Isaiah McDuffie lost his helmet in a scrum on the ground, and White tossed it. Clearly, the former Georgia Tech standout is a firey player. Hard not to be excited about what he’ll bring this season. … Bill Murray found himself among the recent names getting some work at right tackle with the second team. That’s a spot that still has question marks, and the club continues trying to establish some depth there. … Kyle Dugger has quietly had a solid camp, notching another interception in Thursday’s session. … Greg Bedard gave Mac Jones a pretty good endorsement during his appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz on Thursday. ” I thought Mac Jones looked more comfortable, not that he didn’t look comfortable yesterday, but he just had it today,” said Bedard. “I thought he was really good in today’s practice.”
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2023 Patriots Preseason Anfernee Jennings Bailey Zappe Bill Belichick Bill Murray Devante Parker Ezekiel Elliott Green Bay Packers Isaiah McDuffie Jabrill Peppers Jaire Alexander Jonathan Jones Keion White Keshawn Banks Kyle Dugger Mac Jones New England Patriots Tyquan Thornton