The New England Patriots’ training camp is underway as the team took the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for the first time on Wednesday morning. The 90-minute session itself saw a heavy focus on red zone work, meaning that we did not yet get a clear perspective on how the coaching staff views its roster and depth chart at this point in time.
That said, today’s practice allowed us to take the closest look yet at this year’s Patriots team. It also gives us an opportunity to highlight those that stood out — for better or worse.
Winner: WR DeVante Parker. The Patriots’ offseason trade acquisition did not take long to make its presence felt. Parker, who arrived from the Miami Dolphins in April, put on a show on Wednesday. He caught back-to-back touchdowns from Mac Jones in a 7-on-7 drill, beating rookies Marcus Jones and Jack Jones in the process. Parker later also outmuscled Terrance Mitchell for a reception in 11-on-11 work. ’twas a good start.
Winner: WR/RB Ty Montgomery. With James White on the physically unable to perform list, the Patriots gave wide receiver/running back hybrid Ty Montgomery some added opportunities with the starting offense. The 29-year-old, who joined the team in free agency, made the most out of them. Montgomery was active throughout the day, at one point beating cornerback Shaun Wade for a touchdown.
Winner: DB Joshuah Bledsoe. Bledsoe’s sophomore training camp is off to a good start, with the 2021 sixth-round draft pick seeing plenty of action on Wednesday. His best play of the day came when he broke up a Mac Jones end zone pass intended for Jakobi Meyers, but he also was able to get his hand in on other plays as well. There is a long way to go, obviously, but Bledsoe appears to be in the mix for a roster spot in the secondary.
Loser: CB Jack Jones. The Patriots’ fourth-round rookie showed some promise during mandatory minicamp, but he had a rougher time on Wednesday. Jones fell victim to one of DeVante Parker’s touchdown receptions in 7-on-7s and also had to give up a contested scoring grab to fellow rookie Tyquan Thornton in 11-on-11s. Jones had some positive moments as well and saw action as a punt returner, but the hype train slowed down a bit.
The Patriots saw positive contributions from other players as well, with Joejuan Williams registering an interception against Brian Hoyer and Jalen Mills notching a pass breakup as well. The aforementioned Tyquan Thornton also had some encouraging moments while playing primarily with the second-team offense.
They and the rest of the team will return to the practice fields on Thursday morning for session No. 2.