Instant observations of the Patriots’ 2nd joint practice with the Giants

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No matter how good Mac Jones looks, no matter how much the door seems to wiggle open for Jones to win the starting job – no matter what, Cam Newton continues to play well.

Newton made a mistake, accidentally violating the NFL’s protocols for players who are not fully vaccinated and missing a test. So he missed five days of work. In that absence, Jones was excellent, with his best day of training camp on Wednesday.

In Newton’s comeback on Thursday, he was steady and solid, leading a touchdown drive against the New York Giants in joint practices at Gillette Stadium. Newton is the starter — for now. When he’s on the field, he’s not doing anything to lose the job.

Here are our notes from the practice.

The top takeaway: An absolutely horrid drive -- that ended with eight points

The Patriots ran an obscene 18-play drive behind Jones. They faced at least two fourth downs. They dropped four passes. They committed one false start penalty. Jones nearly threw interceptions, with one getting called back for a penalty and one getting dropped in the red area. All the while, the Patriots blasted Bon Jovi and a helicopter landed on the adjacent field. (Yes, a helicopter.) And still, somehow, the Patriots ended up scoring eight points, with a touchdown to Kendrick Bourne and a two-point conversion to Jakobi Meyers. It's unclear if the Patriots were generous with Jones in order to get him more work. But it was a wild series, which Jones ground out and churned into a score. Last year, the Patriots couldn't overcome adversity on their drives, with penalties and drops often ending their drives. Even with countless mistakes, the Patriots found a way to get the ball in the end zone.

QB stats

https://twitter.com/_AndrewCallahan/status/1430921930111135751

Attendance

INJURIES Center David Andrews left pradtice early. CB Jonathan Jones appeared to suffer a lower leg injury. He was in serious pain. NOTABLE PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE WR Nelson Agholor and LT Isaiah Wynn, who left practice early yesterday, were present. LB Josh Uche, who missed all of yesterday, is also here. RED JERSEY TE Hunter Henry and safety Myles Bryant are still limited with a red non-contact jersey. ABSENT WR N'Keal Harry TE Kahale Warring TE Matt LaCosse CB Justin Bethel DT Nick Thurman CB Stephon Gilmore QB Jarrett Stidham DT Byron Cowart LB Terez Hall LB Cam McGrone S Joshuah Bledsoe

The little details

The weather: It was a scorcher, with temperatures rising to a toasty 90 degrees.

The pad level: Full pads. Contact, baby. The QB order in drills: Newton, Jones, Brian Hoyer. The energy: It was a bit more subdued, with so much freaking heat for a second straight day. A few big plays got a rise out of the crowd and the sidelines, including when Devin McCourty intercepted Daniel Jones and got a high five from his former teammate Logan Ryan. But it seemed like energy levels were down slightly from yesterday.

The biggest winner and loser

WINNER Josh Uche had an absolutely dominant series, where he recorded a sack before drawing a holding call on the next play. The offensive line then jumped offsides on the snap that followed Uche's two impact plays. He later logged another sack and a pass breakup in coverage of Saquon Barkey. He was an absolute nightmare for New York. LOSER The receivers struggled with separation and drops on Thursday. It was an all-around unimpressive day. Jakobi Meyers was the best receiver. Nelson Agholor and Jonnu Smith continued to be relatively absent. This group needs to get better -- and fast.

Everything else that's important

  • Defensive tackle Bill Murray beat Giants offensive lineman Ted Larsen. Murray has had a special preseason -- and he continues to build upon that. For the most part, however, the Giants offensive line took care of the Patriots' defensive line in 2-on-2s.

  • In 11-on-11s, it looked like we saw a blown coverage in the Patriots' secondary that sprung Dante Pettis free for a TD from Daniel Jones. CB J.C. Jackon was in the area (though I can't be sure he was responsible). Safety Myles Bryant was left to run Pettis down.

  • During the ugliest drive of the day from Jones (which, as mentioned, somehow ended with eight points), safety Xavier McKinney read Jones perfectly on the QB's first snap of 11s. McKinney nearly picked off Jones on a target to Kendrick Bourne. On the next play, Logan Ryan picked off Mac Jones on a throw to Jonnu Smith. It was a terrible decision by Jones, who was lucky to get bailed out by the penalty that erased the interception.

  • There was no shortage of special teams work, with live punting and kickoff reps. That makes sense considering Bill Belichick and Joe Judge have backgrounds in special teams.

  • Judge said before practice that Mac Jones "jumped off the screen" when the Giants coach was studying tape of other SEC players. Judge said, however, that he wasn't in the market for a QB.

https://twitter.com/McKennAnalysis/status/1430891952224890888

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