Patriots OTA observations: First impressions of Mac Jones, Cam Newton in Year 2


FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots held their third OTA of the spring Thursday on the upper grass fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday.

The session lasted close to two hours and due to NFL rules players did not wear pads.

Attendance was spotty as the team was missing close to a third of its roster and it did not feature many competitive periods. It was mostly a teaching session and many of the team drills were conducted at half speed.

Here are some of the things we observed.

— The first impression of rookie Mac Jones was his lack of size. Not only did he look small standing next to Cam Newton, but also Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. It seems likely the Patriots will want him to bulk up. He does throw a nice catchable ball, which was the scouting report on him coming out of Alabama.

— Newton led off every drill the quarterbacks did and still has his familiar unorthodox throwing motion. Any major fundamental changes this offseason were not apparent. He was his lively self, bringing a lot of energy to the field. Newton completed all four of his passes in 7-on-7 work, but again they were not full speed.

— Jones followed Newton in the majority of the drills and looked solid with what the practice was. There was a small glimpse of his competitiveness as during the bucket drill at the beginning of the session when the quarterbacks tried to land the ball in a garbage can in the corner of the end zone, the rookie showed some frustration when he didn’t connect. For the record, no quarterbacks did.

— Stidham and Newton shared the reps as well with Stidham getting three in 7-on-7 work and Hoyer just two. Hoyer did have the play of the day, connecting with Nelson Agholor for a 40-plus yard completion.

— There was some 11-on-11 work late in the practice, but that was pretty much a walkthrough.

— Matt Patricia was on the field and spent the majority of his time standing next to Bill Belichick. Patricia did veer off and coach the defensive lineman at one point. It’s unclear what his exact role will be this season.

— Recently retired director of football research Ernie Adams was on the field doing his usual thing. It’s unclear what his official status with the team is now.

— Josh McDaniels was very vocal with his coaching, which often included not being pleased with the work of the offense, particularly during 7-on-7 work.

— As for the wide receivers, while not much was learned in the session given the speed at which the drills were conducted, Agholor definitely will be a deep threat the team has lacked in recent years. While it’s still very early and newcomers are getting up to speed, Jakobi Meyers seemed to be the leader of the group, taking the first rep of every drill. N’Keal Harry had a drop or two in individual work and didn’t do anything that was overly impressive.

— Troy Brown spent a good amount of time with Mick Lombardi and the receivers. Last year he spent the bulk of his time with the running backs.

— With a ton of running backs absent, Tyler Gaffney and J.J. Taylor got a ton of work.

— The tight ends got a lot of time with the quarterbacks and some hard coaching from McDaniels and Nick Caley. Again, not much can be taken away given the competitiveness, but it seems the position will play a major role in the offense.

— During the walkthrough 11-on-11 work, Michael Onwenu lined up on the inside. He played tackle last year, but could be a candidate to replace Joe Thuney. Tackles Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn were absent, which meant Korey Cunningham and Justin Herron got a lot of work at the tackle spots.

— Like the rookies wearing numbers beginning with No. 50, there are no Patriots decals on the helmets yet for any player. This is Belichick continuing his theme of having to earn everything.

— Robert Kraft, as well as Dave Ziegler were in attendance observing the session.

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