FOXBORO – The Patriots had a lighter day of practice on Monday in preparation for their upcoming joint practices with the Carolina Panthers. Day 12 of training camp saw players wearing shorts and shells as there was no contact throughout the morning session.
Bill Belichick had his players run mainly full-team drills, but they didn’t appear to be full speed or completely competitive. Instead, Monday was a day to install new plays and try to work on old plays before the Panthers come in for Tuesday and Wednesday’s session.
With non-competitive drills, defensive backs don’t always run full speed or try to stop a receiver or tight end from catching the ball. For those reasons, Mac Jones practice completion percentage doesn’t matter. However, there were a few takeaways from Monday’s practice.
Nelson Agholor was the star of the show. The veteran receiver has had a very good training camp and continues to be one of the best receivers on the field in Foxboro. On Monday, Agholor made a 1-handed touchdown catch in the back left corner of the end zone with Jonathan Jones in coverage. The receiver outdid himself later in practice when he hauled in a 1-handed touchdown catch again. This time, in the 2-minute drill, Agholor made the highlight-reel catch with Jalen Mills in coverage.
Rookie Tyquan Thornton also made a nice reception. He caught a touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe with rookie cornerback Jack Jones in tight coverage. Thornton finished off the score with a thunderous ‘Gronk’ spike.
One other noteworthy event was during the 2-minute drill. Here we saw running back Rhamondre Stevenson used as the team's third-down back. With James White retired, Stevenson seems to be the leader to be used as the Patriots next receiving back. Ty Montgomery could also factor into this equation, but hasn't had the same amount of reps as Stevenson.
Patriots attendance was down slightly on Monday with Isaiah Wynn, Malcolm Butler, Joejuan Williams, Cody Davis, Bill Murray and Justin Herron not practicing. With Wynn and Herron out, Yodny Cajuste saw all the reps at the top right tackle spot. Cajuste is having the best training camp of his career, according to Bill Belichick.
At cornerback, the Patriots continue to play Jonathan Jones at outside cornerback and opposite of Mills. On Monday, Myles Bryant was used as the team’s top slot cornerback with Marcus Jones as the top backup. Jonathan Jones is looking more and more likely to start at outside cornerback. That move could make someone like Butler or veteran Terrance Mitchell as a surprise cut later this month.
The Patriots resume on Tuesday with joint practices against the Panthers. Practice is scheduled to start at 9:30 and is free and open to the public.
Joint practices are the Patriots 'first big test'
The Patriots didn’t play many starters last week in their preseason opener. Instead, coaches and players are focused on seeing how their group looks in joint practices this week against the Carolina Panthers.
This week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, will give us our first look at Patriots starters against another NFL team. Belichick said these sessions are a big benefit to his staff and team.
“There’s so many things,” Belichick said. “The individual matchups are good. We’ve been working against each other for a long time, so new individual matchups, schemes are different. We’ll see some different x’s and o’s, but also maybe techniques on the way guys pass-rush or route-running or things like that. And, I would say, less predictability of practice.
“We kind of know what’s on the other side of the ball and what we can and can’t do. Some things we aren’t going to see from the opposite side of the ball. With a new team, everything’s kind of new, so it keeps you on your toes and forces more communication and more awareness, and we need that.”
The biggest question surrounding the Patriots is about their offense. We might not learn who the offensive play caller will be this fall, but we’ll finally see how the Patriots starting offense looks against another team’s starting defense. With a new scheme change and playbook changes, there’s been some frustration in Foxboro this summer.
Trent Brown called these joint practices their first real test of 2022.
“I think this will be our first test,” Brown said. “Tomorrow will be our first big test. With Game 1 three weeks away, tomorrow will be a nice gauge to see where we are and see what we need to do before Week 1.”
Added Kendrick Bourne: “It’s exciting just to see where we’re at. Test us – it’s a good test. We played Carolina last year. It was a good game. I know they’re going to come here with a lot of good energy… Just to see where we’re at is a good thing.”
What you need to know about Day 12 of camp
Welcome to Day 12 of Patriots training camp.
This marks the last week that the Pats will hold open practices in New England. The team will practice together today, Monday, at 9:30 a.m. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Patriots will host the Carolina Panthers for two days of joint practices. These practices tell us a lot about the Patriots and their individual players.
The joint practices will lead into the Patriots second preseason game, against Carolina, on Friday night inside Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots will finish up training camp next week in Las Vegas with joint practices against the Raiders. Those lead up to the team’s preseason finale in Vegas – and before you know it, the fall and 2022 NFL regular season will be here.
Stay tuned as we’ll have you updated with everything that happens today in Foxboro.
This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: New England Patriots Day 12 training camp: Live updates