Patriots QB report: Cam Newton bounces back; Mac Jones struggles

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Perry: Cam bounces back, frustrated Jones has ups and downs originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The quarterback competition is expected to be hot and heavy for some time on the fields behind Gillette Stadium so we're going to give you all you need to know about the ins and outs of what's going on with Patriots passers at training camp.

Every snap. Every notable interaction. Every dime. Every miss. Every pick. Day after day. Strap in.

Day 1 was a win for Mac Jones. Here's what we saw on Day 2 Thursday morning ... 

Changing Focus

Just as was the case on Day 1, the focus for the Patriots on Thursday was situational work inside the red zone. And the majority of the team drills were of the 11-on-11 variety, with one 7-on-7 period mixed in.

Tom E. Curran's takeaways from Day 2 of Training Camp

But whereas Wednesday was spent in the "low red zone," near the goal line, Thursday had a mix of high and low red zone work. The run game also received a bit more attention on Day 2 than it did on Day 1. More on that later.

The Numbers

Let's get to the nitty gritty, surface-level look at the numbers in today's Quarterback Report.

In the 11-on-11 team periods, Cam Newton went 11-for-16 with one pass dropped by Jakobi Meyers and one rep that would've led to a sack. Mac Jones went 6-for-12 with two reps that would've led to sacks. Brian Hoyer went 11-for-14. Jake Dolegala, signed on Wednesday, didn't participate in the competitive team periods.

In the 7-on-7 period, both Newton and Jones went 3-for-4. Both passers saw their fourth rep turn into a scramble drill and both resulted in incompletions. Hoyer didn't take part in 7-on-7s.

 Patriots Talk podcast: The Cam Newton-Mac Jones battle begins and there’s already a leader | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Newton was consistently the first quarterback up in team drills for the second straight day, and once again he worked with players who would be considered starters pretty much throughout the session. Jones was consistently the second quarterback up, and he worked with a mixture of starters and backups. Hoyer was third, working with reserves.

At one point at the end of the practice, there was an interesting moment that transpired in terms of the substitutions made. Jones fired incomplete to Meyers, and his off-the-mark throw was possibly due to some pressure from Matt Judon coming off the edge. Before the next snap, the first-team offensive line was inserted, maybe to help give Jones a little more timed as he finished up his on-the-field work for the day. 

Snap Judgements

Cam wins the day: There's a bit of a trend developing here. This happened in minicamp as well. After Jones asserted himself as the better player in Wednesday's practice (just as he did in the first two days of minicamp), Newton answered with an improved performance (just as he did on the third and final day of minicamp practice).

Newton completed his first 10 competitive throws of the day (seven in 11-on-11s, three in 7-on-7s). Eight of them went to running backs as part of Thursday's focus was on the screen game (three of those first 10 completions were screens), and he held one attempt for an extended period of time before throwing a checkdown to Brandon Bolden.

But for the most part, Newton understood where to go with the football during the first half of practice and did so on time.

In the 7-on-7 period, Newton had one extended hold in the pocket that led to an incompletion -- it seemed as though he wasn't sure when to scramble to keep the play alive -- which was one of his worst reps of the afternoon. But he hit all three of his other attempts in the period accurately and helped his pass-catchers pick up yards after the catch with where he placed the football.

After the lone 7-on-7 period -- which essentially marked the midway point of the session -- Newton's accuracy and decision-making seemed to get a little sideways.

He threw four straight incompletions in an 11-on-11 period -- though one was a drop on an accurate ball into the end zone targeted for Meyers. Newton missed throws to Hunter Henry twice, one of which was high, hard and well over Henry's head.

Newton also overthrew a pass that was a "free play" that he apparently wasn't sure was a free play. Defensive linemen Deatrich Wise and Davon Godchaux both jumped offsides, and when Newton caught the snap immediately thereafter, it looked like he was about to bail on the play. Maybe he thought there was a false start on the offense. After being encouraged to play out the down, though, he threw well beyond the back end line, out of bounds and incomplete.

To Newton's credit, he finished strong. Stronger than Jones did, at least.

After a miss long to Meyers down the left sideline and a rep that would've led to a Lawrence Guy sack in a live situation, Newton hit three passes in a row. One was a dime to the sideline in the end zone to Bolden. That was followed by a quick, accurate look to Henry and another completion to Henry that was on-time and on the money.

After one completion, Newton looked like he was feeling it as he did a subtle little celebratory dance. He completed four of his final five true attempts on the afternoon, with the Guy "sack" and the overthrow to Meyers mixed in.

Mac boils over: Jones had a decidedly different finish to his afternoon. Here's how it broke down.

He had a pass to N'Keal Harry on the sideline broken up by Joejuan Williams. The next throw went incomplete as well -- a ball low and away to Meyers -- and Jones bent down to slap the turf with both hands. Even before he was drafted, the scouting report on Jones was that he had a bit of a temper at times, and his emotion seemed to boil over somewhat in that moment.

After hitting Troy Fumagalli on a short completion, Jones led Meyers too far out in front for another incompletion. (That was the play that led to the first-team offensive line coming on referenced above.) Yet another incompletion to Meyers followed -- an air-mailed throw into the end zone that flashed a bit of hesitation on Jones' part. When the ball hit the turf, Jones tilted his head back, frustrated.

When Jones hit Sony Michel on his final attempt of the day, it was worth watching him after the fact. How would he handle the emotions of struggling at the end of a practice early in his first pro training camp?

Jones walked toward the sideline with his head hung a tad, and he was met first by Newton, of all people. After a brief interaction, Newton patted Jones on the backside and let Jones blow off some steam. Brian Hoyer quickly caught up with Jones as Jones walked hurriedly to nowhere in particular, and the veteran seemed to try to encourage his rookie teammate. Once Hoyer let Jones be, Newton doubled back. The two competitors for the starting quarterback job in New England then stood together for a few minutes, Jones with his helmet off, Newton doing most of the talking.

It was a moment worth documenting. Newton has been supportive of Jones through two days of camp. There have been times when Newton can be heard cheering on Jones after good throws. At the end of the day on Thursday -- whether Newton was consoling, encouraging, trying to share some helpful advice or something else -- it looked like he wanted to be someone for Jones to lean on after Jones had just undergone what was probably the roughest on-the-field stretch of his young career.

It wasn't all bad for Jones, just as it hadn't been all bad for Newton on Day 1. He completed his first six throws of the practice (three in the 11-on-11s, three in the 7-on-7s). Perhaps his most impressive throw was a touchdown pass to tight end Matt LaCosse that came out quickly and was placed away from the nearest defender on what looked like a curl route. He hit Meyers on another -- a deep cross that was accurately thrown -- in 7-on-7s. Jones also looked light on his feet as he was asked to execute some stretch-run footwork and bootleg throws early in the session.

(As an aside, the style of practice on Thursday was more focused on the running game than Wednesday's pass-happy session had been. We saw both quarterbacks operate different types of rushing attacks with Newton executing zone-read, quarterback draw and quarterback sweep plays. Jones, meanwhile, worked on handoffs from shotgun and under center. At one point, Jones pulled off the jet-sweep give that he fumbled on Day 1.

It'll be interesting to see moving forward just how much time is devoted to the Newton-specific run plays. That part of the Patriots offense will obviously feature different wrinkles based on which quarterback is in the game. If the Patriots show stretch-run style looks, that could benefit Jones, who's not a next-level athlete but is mobile enough to roll out and throw on the move. That kind of running game, with an accompanying play-action passing attack, is the basis for the kind of offense that has benefitted young quarterbacks across the league in recent seasons, including Jimmy Garoppolo in San Francisco and Baker Mayfield in Cleveland.)

On Day 2, Jones didn't have the same number of eye-opening passes that he compiled on Wednesday. And though the ball generally came out on time, he wasn't quite as quick with his decisions on Thursday. He had one scramble-drill rep in 7-on-7s, a tuck-and-run rep in 11-on-11s, and he would've taken a Nick Thurman sack on a play where he held onto the football perhaps a beat too long in the pocket.

Time will tell if Jones will be able to bounce back as Newton did to a certain extent from one practice to the next. Lucky for him, he won't have to wait long. The Patriots are back at it again on Friday at 9:45 a.m.

Should be another opportunity for a lot of throws for both quarterbacks, as the team can't be in pads -- and therefore might not be able to realistically focus many more practice periods on the run game -- until Tuesday.