10 quick Pats camp thoughts ... without pads

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Aug. 2—Here are my 10 quick thoughts on Patriots training camp thus far, without pads (players are wearing pads on Tuesday):

1. Mac Jones size

He's not as big as he looked on TV throwing passes in the Alabama pocket. He's listed at 6-foot-5, which is at least two inches shorter than Cam Newton. Is that a concern? No. But he's no Tom Brady, who also is 6-foot-5, who seemed to see everything standing back there 15 feet behind the center.

2. Mac Jones eyesight

While Jones size may not be impressive, his ability to throw passes in between defenders down field is very impressive. His over-the-linebackers-in-front-of-the-safties throws are better than advertised. It tells me he understands defenses.

3. Jakobi and N'Keal making statements

I put these two together because after the spending spree at wide receiver in March for Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and N'Keal Harry have been very consistent, albeit without pads. Meyers looks quicker and stronger, and Harry looks calm and collected. I expected Meyers to be in the running for the No. 3 guy and Harry to be long gone by now. Honestly, both have answered the early challenge. Let's see what happens during the preseason games. Meyers needs to score and Harry needs to remain on the field.

4. Phillips making 'strong' statement

With the loss of Patrick Chung to retirement (though he did miss last year opting out due to the pandemic), that role as strong safety appears to be belong to Adrian Phillips, whom Bill Belichick signed last year for $6 million over two years. Belichick had an out with Phillips if it didn't work out, saving $3 million in cap space this season. But Phillips has proved to be the ultimate pest at safety, particularly on the talented tight ends. This could be a position upgrade if Phillips continues this progress.

5. Jake Bailey is a true weapon

There are only a handful of punters over the years that you could call weapons. Guess what? The Patriots punter is a weapon. Jake Bailey is coming off a first-time All-Pro season, as in the best in the sport, and over the last five days has looked every bit the part. At one point on Monday he had three straight kicks going 75 yards, 70 yards and 60 yards ... in the air. A little earlier in practice he and another All-Pro, gunner Matthew Slater, worked on downing punts inside the 5-yard line. Two straight were at the one, with Slater making a spectacular tip of the ball. Anyway, this is going to be a big strength when it comes to field position.

6. Newton will be running

While Cam Newton continues to throw like, well, Cam Newton, which means "ugly," remember a big part of his game is running with the football. His size helps because he is bigger (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) than almost any player attempting to tackle him. He has taken off many times in this camp, telling us that is part of the offense.

7. Depth, depth and depth

Belichick is going to have some tough decisions to make when final cuts are made. The Patriots have a bevy of players at several key position groups, including running back, wide receiver and the entire defense. The Patriots appear to have enough players to survive an injury bug, at least to some extent. There will be some very good defensive backs and linebackers who will have to catch on with another team.

8. Situational football rules

Most NFL teams take a few weeks before focusing on situational football. Not the Patriots. On the first day, red zone offense and defense ruled the day. Yesterday, Day 5 of camp, it was third down offense and defense. The point is Belichick, per the norm, starts off running and seeing who can and can't handle the quick decision-making.

9. Folk story continues

Nick Folk is not going to make a 55-yard field goal. It's not going to happen. But from 45 yards in, he is money. He seemed to be a "hotel guy" when he arrived as a late season fill-in in November of 2019 and then after the Patriots drafted Justin Rohrwasser in the fifth round in 2020. But here we are 21 months later and Folk, who has made 40 of 45 field goals here, including 22 for 22 inside 40 yards, and he's a shoo-in as the starter for 2021. He has been very steady early in camp and that isn't a surprise.

10. Special teams still special

Slater, Brandon Bolden, Justin Bethel, Raekwon McMillian ... to name a few, have been very busy early in camp focused on the punting, kicking and block teams. The Patriots, due to Belichick's desire to have top-flight special teams, appear to spend an inordinate amount of time "during" practice on the other part of football that gets little publicity. Again, this goes back to Belichick's obsession with field position. There aren't many teams, if any, with four or five players focused primarily on special team like the Patriots. It sends a message.