Saturday, August 13, 2022

Patriots training camp: Defense dominates, DeVante Parker with another highlight catch on Day 2

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots were back on the field Thursday for Day 2 of training camp. This session included some special teams reps to go along with some more red zone work, which was the most competitive period of the day. 

As we noted in our Day 1 observations piece on Wednesday, it’s important to highlight that pads have yet to be put on, so there is a ceiling for how physical and competitive these practices can get at this juncture. That said, there was plenty to sink our teeth into as New England builds toward the 2022 regular season. Below, you’ll find the notable highlights from Day 2 of Pats camp.

Defense wins the day, ends on sour note

The most competitive session of Day 2 came at the very end of practice. There, the Patriots were running 11-on-11 red zone drills and blasted music through the speakers the entire time to simulate a hectic environment where communication could be difficult during the year. This portion of practice was almost entirely dominated by the defense, as it did not allow a touchdown or even a reception on the first 10 attempts. 

Cornerback Jalen Mills had a nice pass breakup during this run on wideout Nelson Agholor and rookie Marcus Jones also had some tight coverage on Kendrick Bourne as Mac Jones tried to hit him in the back right corner of the end zone.

“The offense kind of got us a little bit yesterday and we got them today,” said Mills. 

However, on the final play of this period, Jones was able to connect with tight end Hunter Henry for a touchdown. Because of that, the defense got the raw deal of having to do pushups to wrap up the day.

Godchaux gets paid, praise from Belichick

Following Day 1 of camp, it was reported that the Patriots and defensive tackle Davon Godchaux agreed to a two-year, $20.8 million extension. When asked about the deal on Thursday before the start of practice, Belichick heaped praise on Godchaux. 

“He’s one of the best defensive linemen in the league,” said the head coach. “Glad we were able to work that out with Davon and [his agent] Drew Rosenhaus.”

The 27-year-old signed with the Patriots last offseason after beginning his career as a fifth-round draft choice of the Miami Dolphins in 2017 out of LSU. Godchaux started in 16 of his 17 games played during the 2021 regular season and totaled 65 tackles, five quarterback hits, and a sack.

DeVante Parker with another eye-popping catch

DeVante Parker was one of the big winners coming out of Day 1 and he followed that strong debut up with another impressive practice. The veteran receiver made arguably the catch of the day earlier in the session. During some red zone drills, Parker hauled in a back-shoulder fade from Mac Jones that came in a bit low near the receiver’s knees. Parker was able to twist away from cornerback Jalen Mills and reach out to make the catch right in front of the training camp crowd, which popped at the sight of that grab. Mills was wearing mitts during that catch as a technique to avoid tugging on his receiver, but he was draped over Parker, which made the catch that much more impressive. 

After two days, Parker’s stock is certainly on the upswing. 

Don’t sleep on Joshuah Bledsoe

Again, it’s early in camp and the pads haven’t been put on yet, but 2021 sixth-round safety Joshuah Bledsoe has put together a solid start over the first two days. He had roughly three pass breakups on Thursday, which builds on the two PBUs he registered on Day 1.  

Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith sighting

Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith had their moments on Day 2. During 7-on-7s, Mac Jones connected with Henry on an impressive touchdown reception over starting safety Kyle Dugger. Jones lofted what was essentially a 50-50 ball to Henry and he was able to snatch it in the air over Dugger in tight coverage. Henry also had the lone reception on the more competitive 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice, which went for a touchdown. 

Meanwhile, Smith — who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with New England last offseason — did have a nice leaping catch over Joshuah Bledsoe during those 7-on-7s drills from rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe. However, there was some dispute as to whether or not the tight end would’ve been flagged for a false start on the play. Smith is looking to rebound after a 2021 campaign where he logged just 294 yards receiving. 

Mac Jones on Day 2

Mac Jones was sharp to begin the second day of camp and completed all six of his attempts during a 7-on-7 session that was probably moving at a tick over half-speed. Once the competition ramped up during the final 11-on-11 red zone drills, the second-year quarterback struggled and missed on his first six attempts before hitting Henry on the final pass of practice and forcing the defense to do pushups. 

Taking attendance

Defensive lineman Deatrich Wise was the notable player absent from Day 2. The 28-year-old is entering his sixth season in the league and is in the midst of a four-year, $22 million deal he inked with the club last offseason. Other than wise, it was the status quo in terms of attendance as the only other absent players are already on PUP or the NFI list (center David Andrews, safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Chasen Hines, offensive tackle, Andrew Stuber, punter Jake Bailey, cornerback Jonathan Jones, running back James White and defensive back Myles Bryant). 

Rookie running back Pierre Strong remained limited for the second day in a row. 

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