Stock up, stock down: Joshuah Bledsoe back to disrupt Patriots offense early in camp

·5 min read

Perry: Bledsoe back to disrupt Patriots offense early in camp originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

FOXBORO -- What we've seen in the first two days from Patriots training camp practices is hardly training camp at all. Bill Belichick will tell you as much. This is essentially an extension of what the Patriots did in the spring, he'll explain. That's all.

No pads. No contact. Nowhere near the kind of game we'll see when wins and losses are at stake.

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Still, we're still going to assess what we can, even with the relatively limited look we've gotten. Partly because these last two days have been our first look at this team in a long time and any information is good information.

But we also know that you want to know every detail you can from these sessions. Plus, the reality is all of this stuff matters. Maybe not as much as a fully-padded joint practice in mid-August. But it matters.

That's why doing an occasional stock up/stock down post is a good way to keep track of how things are trending with individual players. With that, let's get to our first of the summer.

Stock up: DeVante Parker

After leaving teammates in awe at times during Day 1 of practice, Parker picked up where he left off on Day 2. His back-shoulder reception -- he used an arm-over move on Jalen Mills to stop, find space and then drag two feet in bounds -- on a well-placed throw from Mac Jones was arguably the catch of the day.

He hasn't made good on every target. Mills broke up a pass headed his way on Wednesday and Jack Jones was tight on him in the red zone when Jones sailed one in his direction. But Parker has been the team's most impressive receiver to this point in camp. If he can keep it up, he has the skill set to alter how this offense operates.

Stock up: Mac Jones

Despite throwing incomplete on six of his last seven passes on Thursday, Jones was scorching prior to that point. He completed 12 straight at one point in 7-on-7 work and he hit his first five passes in 11-on-11 periods. Also, not all the incompletions at the end of Day 2 appeared to be on Jones. He had to throw one away on a scramble drill when receivers couldn't shake coverage. One pass sailed a little long but might've been completed to Nelson Agholor had Agholor dragged his feet to try to stay in bounds. Another glanced off Kendrick Bourne's hands for a would-be touchdown. Jones has been crisp through two practices, and he hasn't turned it over on over 40 competitive throws.

Stock up: Joshuah Bledsoe

A sixth-rounder last year, Bledsoe missed his entire rookie season as he dealt with a wrist issue. But he's now healthy and he's getting plenty of work with a couple of veteran defensive backs -- Jonathan Jones and Jabrill Peppers -- on the physically unable to perform list. He broke up two passes on Thursday and has been consistently around the ball through two days of practice. He batted a pass from Mac Jones intended for Jonnu Smith and he got his hands on another that Bailey Zappe intended for Dalton Keene. That's four PBUs in two practices.

If he can provide some versatility on the back end as a slot and strong safety hybrid, as he did at Missouri (more on that on this episode of Next Pats), and chip in with some kicking-game work? He may have a real shot at the 53-man roster.

Stock down: Devin Asiasi

How the Patriots handle their tight end room headed into the season will be fascinating. Both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry will be on the roster. But will they carry any after that pair? They don't have to be married to two-tight end sets because they have depth at receiver. If there was going to be a third, Asiasi would seem to be the favorite. But he dropped a pass in a drill with no defense Thursday. He also couldn't work through coverage from Bledsoe on another incompletion sent his way. He had a double-catch at one point during a drill on a short throw.

Asiasi will continue to get opportunities with the second team, but it's worth wondering if the Patriots will keep any of their tight ends after their two highly-paid 2021 free-agent acquisitions.

Stock down: Pierre Strong

This isn't exactly a reflection on Strong's performance. It's just that the rookie fourth-rounder hasn't had much of an opportunity to perform. He's been limited through two practices and so maybe he's dealing with something physically that's holding him out. But there is an opening at the moment for a pass-catching back with James White on the physically unable to perform list. He's a pass-catching back. But those looks are going to Ty Montgomery, JJ Taylor and even Rhamondre Stevenson could get some third-down run over Strong if he remains limited.

Stock down: Bailey Zappe

Brian Hoyer was at practice on Thursday and in uniform, but he apparently was given a veteran's day of rest because it was Bailey Zappe who received almost all second-team reps. He ended up going 2-for-6 in 11-on-11 work toward the end of the session and sprayed the ball, especially while on the move, as the offense sputtered.

It's early yet! But with a chance to gain some momentum and perhaps push Hoyer as the No. 2 on the roster -- Hoyer will be on the team regardless based on the $3 million in guarantees he received in his latest deal -- Zappe didn't seem to make up any ground Thursday.