The Patriots once again hit the field in front of the media on Tuesday, but it was what happened after practice that stood out.
Once New England's session finished up, quarterback Mac Jones gathered fellow signal callers Bailey Zappe and Trace McSorley for a brief throwing session with rookie pass catchers Kayshon Boutte, Demario Douglas, Malik Cunningham, and Ed Lee. Heading into a critical third season, the Patriots quarterback's leadership continues to shine through.
Oh - and he had a pretty good practice too. Here are some key notes, observations, and takeaways from Tuesday’s session:
Listen live to weei 93.7:
- After popping on day one of open practice last week, second-year WR Tyquan Thornton was not on the field for the Patriots on Tuesday. Recievers JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, and Kendrick Bourne were absent from the session as well.
- Though JuJu was absent on the field, Bill Belichick told us prior to practice that “he’ll be here”, after returning to Foxboro from a trip to Washington D.C. with the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. This likely means he was inside working out.
- No signs of a quarterback competition in Foxboro. Bill O'Brien and Mac Jones are in sync and the third-year quarterback continues to show comfort and command of his unit.
- RB James Robinson, WR DeVante Parker, OL Chasen Hines, and TE Scotty Washington all worked on the lower fields but did not participate in practice.
- Rookie fifth-round pick Atonio Mafi got plenty of work with New England’s guard group on Tuesday with Mike Onwenu absent.
- I’m starting to wonder if the end is near for QB Trace McSorley. He struggled again getting a grasp of the Patriots offense.
- Cornerback Christian Gonzalez was back at practice for the Patriots on Tuesday and was thrown right into the mix on the boundary. His length and lack of unnecessary movements are what stand out in the 6-foot-1 rookie. He’s a plug-and-play starter for this team.
- LB Marte Mapu is going to play a lot of football as a rookie. Once again, despite being non-contact, the third-round pick was heavily involved in the Patriots defense on Tuesday.
- CB Marcus Jones was back on the field for the Patriots after missing last week’s practice in front of media, but quickly scurried down to the lower fields, typically reserved for those rehabbing an injury.
- Not a lot of Jack Jones with the main unit on defense on Tuesday. I wouldn’t quite call it a “phase out”, but the second-year cornerback may have some work to do if he wants to crack the starting lineup, especially with Jonathan Jones returning.
- Joe Judge continues to be heavily involved with the special teams. I'd say he looks like the real coordinator - not Cam Achord.
- S Jabrill Peppers, CB Isaiah Bolden, WR Demario Douglas, WR Kayshon Boutte, and WR Ed Lee were the return men during punt drills. Bolden muffed one and a lap ensued.
- With rookie Bryce Baringer not at practice, Corliss Waitman took over punting duties and showed off a boot of his own. May we be entrenched in a punter competition come training camp?
Who Said What?
We once again spoke to head coach Bill Belichick prior to practice, who told us that Tuesday would be a lighter day after a “big day” on Monday. He was right.
After reports surfaced on Monday that Bill O’Brien’s paws are all over the Patriots offense, Belichick was asked about the relationship between Mac Jones and their new OC. As only Bill can do, he kept it short and sweet: “It’s just a teaching process for all of us.”
Mike Gesicki gave us a bit of a better answer on his new quarterback: “Mac’s awesome,” New England’s newest tight end told us after practice. “He’s my guy.”
As for Kyle Dugger? “[Mac’s] leadership [stands out]. He’s always putting in the work and leading by example.”
The Patriots star safety was also asked about the idea of an extension, given that he’s in a contract year:
“That’s not on my mind,” Dugger said. “I enjoy playing for this organization.”
Despite a light wide receiver room and a couple of noticeable mishaps, the offense won the day on Tuesday and it's clear that they're already light years ahead of where they were a year ago. Though the defense was out of sync for some of the session, they're a talented enough group to snap out of it.
We'll be back at Gillette for more Patriots coverage on Friday, June 9th as they hit the field again in front of the media. We’ll have you covered here at WEEI.com for all of it.