FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Patriots training camp is rolling along with the second day of full-padded practices. As has been the case for a large majority of camp, the defense has continued to come along strong and provide the offense with some headaches. That said, there have been some flashes from the group, particularly at the wide receiver position in contested catch situations.
Below, you’ll find all the latest highlights from Day 6 of Pats camp:
Big day for the linebackers
As we noted in the intro, it’s been a strong start to camp for the Patriots’ defense. On Tuesday, the linebackers really stood out with several eye-popping plays. In particular, veteran linebacker Mack Wilson — who was acquired this offseason in a trade with the Cleveland Browns involving pass rusher Chase Winovich — arguably was the best of the bunch and was making plays all over the field.
During an early period of 11-on-11s, Wilson had a leaping pass breakup on a throw by rookie Bailey Zappe. He also had a “sack” on Mac Jones in another set of competitive drills coming off the left side of the line. Maybe his best play of the day came in the final set of 11s when the team was working in the red zone with music blasting through the speakers to simulate loud environments. There, he popped running back J.J. Taylor in what was the loudest hit of the day.
Elsewhere at the linebacker spot, Matt Judon and Ja’Whaun Bentley were both able to flush Jones out of the pocket during 11-on-11s and likely would have registered a sack had they been able to zero in on the quarterback. Raekwon McMillan also stuffed Damien Harris in the backfield.
Defensive line disruptors
And it wasn’t just the linebackers making noise on Tuesday as the defensive line also turned in a handful of impactful plays. Lawrence Guy was able to stuff the run, beating Isaiah Wynn on one 11-on-11 rep. Henry Anderson also made his mark on the day. During one session, he came in with pressure and forced Mac Jones to throw the ball away. Later, he batted down a ball thrown by Jones at the line of scrimmage.
Standout catches by Thornton, Agholor
While the defense may have won the day, there were some nice flashes by some of the offensive skill position players. Rookie Tyquan Thornton continues to have a solid start to camp and made a ridiculous one-handed catch in 1-on-1 drills. He was matched up with starting corner Jalen Mills and contorted his body to lean back and make the over-the-shoulder grab. Even Mills couldn’t be upset with that reception and gave a quick clap for the second-round pick after the play was over.
“I think Ty is a hard worker,” Mac Jones said after practice. “He’s starting to really grasp some of the things we’re doing and getting open. He clearly has the speed to get open, and we have a great group of guys and we need to spread the ball out to them.”
Later, fellow receiver Nelson Agholor got in on the action with a couple of highlight catches. During the same 1-on-1 drills where Thornton made his catch, Agholor hauled in a ball that was just as impressive. He was matched up with corner Joejuan Williams and fended him off with his left arm while bringing in the football with his right while in mid-air. Agholor also had another strong catch during 11-on-11s, but Jones likely would have been sacked on the play if it were an actual game. Still, it was a strong day for some of the Patriots’ deep threats.
Ty Montgomery showing versatility
What does Bill Belichick love? Versatility. With that in mind, it’s getting harder and harder to imagine veteran receiver/running back Ty Montgomery not making the 53-man roster. While Montgomery is listed as a wideout, New England has used him in versatile ways in camp during competitive drills. He’s run the ball, lined up in the slot, and worked out wide, which is reminiscent of when Cordarrelle Patterson was with the team in 2018. Montgomery has also gotten some reps as a returner.
That ability to wear multiple hats is one of the best ways to endear yourself to Belichick and carve out a role on the Week 1 roster.
How the QBs fared
The offense does seem to be going through some growing pains and the quarterbacks have been under siege at times during camp. That continued on Tuesday as both quarterbacks were forced out of the pocket and scrambled on more than one occasion.
“I think we have a lot of room to grow here,” Mac Jones said after practice. “The goal for me is to not run the ball and throw it so, I think our offensive line is doing a good job, and we just have to get on the same page.”
During 11-on-11s, Jones was 6-of-11 and finished completing all eight of his pass attempts during 7-on-7s. While Jones was perfect during 7s, the majority of those passes were high-percentage throws in the flat. Meanwhile, Bailey Zappe was 5 of 7 in 7-on-7s and 9 of 12 in 11-on-11s.
The newest member of the Patriots that was missing in action on Tuesday was tight end, Dalton Keene. Quarterback, Brian Hoyer, running back James White, and guards Chasen Hines and Andrew Stueber were also absent. Pass rusher Deatrich Wise was present, but worked off to the side.
As it relates to Hoyer, Bill Belichick said that he anticipates the quarterback to return to practice “fairly soon.”