Monday Patriots training camp observations: Defense wins day in spirited session


FOXBOROUGH - After a lighter day Sunday, the Patriots certainly picked up the intensity Monday morning with a full-padded practice that lasted a little over two hours.

There was a lot of hitting both during individual drills and team drills, which sparked some jawing back-and-forth between the offense and defense at the end of the session.

Overall, the defense got the better of the offense, especially during some 11-on-11, end-of-game situations when Cam Newton appeared to be sacked on two plays, once by Jason McCourty and then Deatrich Wise.

While Jarrett Stidham participated in team drills for the first time since last week, the majority of the reps still belonged to Cam Newton. The former MVP did not have as good of a day as Sunday, especially at the end of practice during two-minute work as he was quite sloppy.

In terms of attendance, Stephon Gilmore, Sony Michel, Lamar Miller, Yodny Cajuste, Jake Burt, Jeff Thomas and Beau Allen were all missing. Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger were late arrivals and both were limited.

Jakobi Meyers was limited once again as well, and linebacker Terez Hall left the session early.

Here are some observations from the session.

— As we said before, Newton saw the majority of the reps, but it wasn’t as clean of a practice as he had Sunday. He missed a few throws and also had to run a lap during 11-on-11 work when Chase Winovich knocked the ball loose. His energy was still there, including going back-and-forth with the defense at the end of practice. Newton also had an interception earlier in 11-on-11 work when he tried to throw a deep-ball to Damiere Byrd in double coverage. Myles Bryant recorded the interception. Not every day is going to be perfect, so it’s not worth overreacting to one below average session. Newton seems to be on a good pace with learning the offense and developing chemistry with his teammates.

— Stidham saw a few reps in 11-on-11 work, but he was still clearly limited. His workload seems to be increasing a little more each day as he is dealing with a reported hip injury, but he is not yet back to full strength. In 1-on-1 drills when he was throwing to tight ends early in the session, he had a tough time, especially on some of his longer throws.

— It’s clear Brian Hoyer is the most confident of all three quarterbacks as he’s the loudest on the field when calling plays and directing traffic pre-snap.

— N’Keal Harry had a good bounce-back day as for the first time this summer he made a few notable plays. He had a nice touchdown grab from Newton on a fade route against JC Jackson and then also caught a touchdown on a slant route later on. Also, during a blocking drill he showed his intensity by going back-and-forth with defensive back Michael Jackson after the play. To this point, Harry hadn’t really made any plays, so this was good to see and the Patriots certainly hope he can build off it.

— JC Jackson had an active practice, playing a physical-style at cornerback and got his hands on a few passes.

— Three players on defense who stood out during 11-on-11 work were Deatrich Wise, Winovich and Josh Uche. Winovich had two sacks on his own, while Wise and Uche also got into the backfield. This was part of the defense getting the better of the offense and then letting them know about it.

— Part of the physical practice was rookie linebacker Cassh Malluia suffering an upper-body injury. Devin Asiasi flattened him on a block which had Malluia land on wide out Devin Ross. Ross got up relatively quickly, while Malluia was on the ground with trainers for a few minutes. He remained on the field the rest of practice, but did not participate. His status moving forward is worth watching.

— Two players who continue to make the most of their opportunities are Damien Harris and Gunner Olszewski. Harris made some great cuts, while Olszewski continues to look more like a wide receiver and make plays in the passing game.

— While Julian Edelman and Newton didn’t connect on as many passes as Sunday, it was still an active day for Edelman. He was part of the offense jawing at the defense and whatever was bothering him last week physically appears to have gone away.

— Both kickers — Justin Rohrwasser and the newly added Nick Folk — got some live work. I had both of them 3-for-3 from 30-45 yards, although there was some question on one of Rohrwasser’s kicks. Both also made a chip shot when simulating rushing onto the field later on in the session. Watching the two kick, Folk’s look more smooth and travel higher. The team bringing Folk in is an indication they are not fully confident in the rookie.

— At the beginning of practice a slip-n-slide was set up and rookies, as well as new coaches, took part in a fumble recovery drill with Matthew Slater manning the hose. This is something the team has done for the last couple of seasons at one point during training camp. In the past, Tom Brady had the hose.