With training camp in full swing, there’s a lot going on about the New England Patriots and the rest of the league. Let’s use this forum here to run through some of the stories that have come up over the past few days that we haven’t had time to cover elsewhere: Welcome to this week Sunday Patriots Notes.
Check-in with the New England Junior Class. The Patriots rookies were the first to report to camp this year, with 15 of them checking in on July 19, one week before inaugural practice. Led by Cole Strange from the first round, the group has seen some action over the first four sessions so far.
Sunday is the first day off that now presents us with the perfect opportunity to check in with these first-year players. Of course, this is just a brief status update with one big disclaimer before we dive in: players haven’t put out full platforms yet, so ratings will change dramatically next week.
OL Cool Stranger: Strange is the left guard staring at the Patriots at the moment, but with players not wearing full pads, he has yet to fully demonstrate his skills as a blocker. He was praised by his teammates and head coach Bill Belichick, and he also caught the eye during a boating competition on Friday.
WR Tiquan Thornton: Tyquan Thornton saw a lot of action early on in camp, and he put in some good plays while basically running with the second team attack. However, his speed stands out, especially when he is used as the gunner’s captain on the return of the boat.
CB Marcus Jones: With veteran Jonathan Jones on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, the third-round rookie saw some action with his starting attack. Aligned in the hole, he looked competitive in drills of 7 on 7 and 11 on 11; He’s also seen some action as a boat return, although he had one muff on Friday.
CB Jack Jones: Jones was one of the highlights of the mandatory mini-camp, but he wasn’t able to fully carry his momentum into boot camp. However, he saw plenty of opportunities during the first four days.
RB Bear Strong Jr.: The fourth return round has been quiet so far. Strong Jr. was tied up all four days, leaving for the Lower Fields to do some solo work at a time.
QB Bailey Zappe: With Brian Hoyer missing back-to-back drills and not seeing any competitive drills on day two, Zappe was the second most active quarterback behind Mac Jones. The rookie in the fourth round was erratic at times, but he also threw some good passes in between.
RB Kevin Harris: Harris appears to be a depth option in the rear-running position now. However, he saw quite a few opportunities as a passing pro.
DL Sam Roberts: Roberts’ size stands out but he hasn’t been able to make much of an impact yet. Once pads appear that may change.
Heinz OL Chasen: Hines was placed on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list prior to training camp. He missed the first four exercises and is still on the sidelines at the moment.
OL Andrew Stueber: Stueber was also put on the non-football injury list prior to training camp. He, too, missed the first four training sessions and is still far from playing at the moment.
C Russian Cody: With David Andrews opening his training camp at PUP, Russey was second behind James Ferentz early on. At one point, he got a chance to work with Mac Jones during the 7-on-7s.
DT Labrian Ray: Just like the other line workers, Ray hadn’t been able to show off his skill as an Inner Defensive Lineman yet. His time will come from Monday.
LB Darcus Mitchell: Mitchell popped up a few times this week. Time saw the team kick-off back. Participate in the Punting Contest with Cool String. He is wearing the shortest shorts.
DB Brenden Schouler: Schouler may be the most active member of the Patriots’ non-rookie class this week. He saw plenty of action in the kicking game, after all, and spent a great deal of time working on set with veterans Matthew Slater and Cody Davis.
B Jake Julian: Jake Bailey at the start of the week on the NFI opened the door for Jake Julian to see a lot more cast in the gambler. He’s had some booming kicks, and it will be interesting to see how the competition unfolds now that the incumbent is back.
As of now, it looks like New England could see some big contributions from this year’s junior class. Cole Strange will start in the left guard position, and Marcus Jones will compete for a role on defense and special teams, with Tyquan Thornton, Jack Jones and Pierre Strong Jr. as well. Additionally, Brenden Schooler may be able to infiltrate the 53-man roster as a five-unit special team.
Evan’s presence can still be felt. Although he retired this season, the Patriots’ long-time running back head coach Evan Virss is still hanging around the team. On Friday, he was seen watching running training and exchanging some words with Damian Harris after one of them:
Although he is no longer running the show in position, concerns loom whether he is in training or not. Just ask Damian Harris.
“Evan Khattab is clearly one of the most influential people in my life, this period, not to mention my football career. It sure is hard for him to go, but the show is going on – unfortunately – and it interferes with me,” said the fourth-year-old.
Concerns have coached the Patriots for 20 seasons, but earlier this year they handed the keys to Vinnie Sanseri. The 28-year-old served as Concern’s aide last year and was the logical candidate for the position.
“Venny does an amazing job day in and day out, always preparing us to be our best and always making sure we have all the tools and all the resources we need to get out here and play for free and play with enthusiasm, and play with a clear mind, the way we can go out and make plays,” Harris said.
“Obviously we miss Evan, he’s irreplaceable, but Vinny is doing a great job and we all stick around and learn from him and we’re all in this together. We’re going to do everything we can to get this ship going.”
The training camp has a family feel. It is clear that the bootcamp is physically and mentally challenging for all involved, as players in particular are required to perform at a high level under a lot of pressure. At the end of the day, their jobs are on the line and every misstep or lack of focus can be fatal to one’s chances of making a roster or training squad when all is said and done.
In the midst of it all, the human side of sport should not be forgotten. Fortunately, the camp is also a reminder of this aspect of the game.
After all, several players were present from their close families to take a look at some of the social media channel offerings:
Of course, the Foxborough family extends much further than that. The team, after all, makes itself known to its fans as well – and there were plenty of them present during the first four days of camp.
Wednesday’s opening session was already a sign of things to come. While the fans poured in relatively slowly with it being a workday morning, the seats were well filled and the energy was high once training started just after 9:30. Players like wide receiver DeVante Parker seem to be feeding off energy coming from the stands.
From this perspective, the first week of camp was a rally that culminated in the eventful Saturday issue:
The Patriots had a full house on Saturday, and had to open the slopes up to Gillette Stadium to give everyone a chance to watch the session. Needless to say, New England loves their team, even with the greatest player in franchise history having a memory from the past.
Having quarterback Mac Jones, who was greeted every day as he entered the field, certainly helps with that, though.
Belichick acknowledges Danny Amendola’s contributions. Two days before training camp kicks off, Danny Amendola, a former Patriots receiver, announced his retirement from the NFL. Amendola spent five years in New England, won a pair of Super Bowls, and always seemed to play his best when the lights were brightest.
He didn’t earn the nickname “Playoff Danny” by chance, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick also recognized his reliability earlier this week. Speaking to reporters the day after Amendola retired, Belichick compared him to the likes of fellow slot recipients Troy Brown, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman.
“I love Danny,” Belichick said. “He was a very good player for us, he had a lot of skill, he played mostly inside, but he could play outside. She could come back, very smart, strong, dependable, big hands and focus. He was a good footballer. Glad to have him here, and he was definitely a huge contributor to us while he was mostly here – I mean he lost some time, but he was there at every possible opportunity.
“He was tough and he was a good footballer. …Very dependable. He was tough, he was blocking. …We’ve been very lucky with the players we have here, but Danny definitely ranks high in that group.”
Avoid patriots strong blows For at least another year. With the training camp, as well as the production of HBO strong blows. The Detroit Lions are the team that has appeared on the show this year, and the first episode coming August 9 at 10 p.m. ET serves as a reminder that we won’t see New England qualified to do the show until at least 2024.
In order to be featured on strong blowsAfter all, teams must meet many criteria. One misses the playoffs in consecutive years – something that never happened with Bill Belichick as coach of the team. The Patriots missed the tournament in 2020 but rebounded again in 2021 by leading 10-7 and qualifying to be the sixth seed in the AFC.
Their journey to the playoffs may have been only a short one, but it has reset the clock for the organization to appear on the show. Despite his affinity with NFL Films, who co-produced the series, Bill Belichick probably isn’t too sad about it.
“Reset” N’Keal Harry is a quiet start. After three mostly disappointing seasons, first-round pick N’Keal Harry was traded from the Patriots to the Chicago Bears earlier this month. Earlier this week, Harry shared his thoughts on leaving his chosen team 32nd in 2019.
“I was already asleep and my boss was in my house and he went downstairs,” Harry said. “[He] He told me I just got traded. When he told me I was traded with Bears, I was excited. I jumped out of bed. I was just excited, man.”
Harry has struggled to make an impact in New England, but is looking forward to the opportunity to do just that as a bear. But so far, he’s been fairly quiet in his first training camp in Chicago.
According to reports from Lake Forest, Harry had some heartening moments, but he also dropped a pass at one point that led directly to a road blockage. The “badly needed reset,” as he called it, appears to be a work in progress.