Monday was our fifth day of training camp but our first in full pads, which is a milestone in preparing for our season, and we are just ten days from the first preseason game and forty-one days until our regular season opener. So many exciting storylines came out of camp today.
Several Patriots were out today, including Deatrich Wise, Brian Hoyer, Pierre Strong, James White, Chasen Hines, and Andrew Stueber. However, on a more positive note, several players, including Jabrill Peppers, Jonathan Jones, and Myles Bryant, returned on Monday.
It was reported to be an extremely quiet atmosphere among the players and the crowd despite being the first day of padded practices. It is surprising to me because I thought pads and contact would increase the intensity and emotion. So it feels a little concerning to me that this didn’t create a more intense day at training camp.
Training Camp Standouts
McMillan stood out for the simple fact that he is still practicing with the first team defense five days into camp, which would be an outstanding achievement for him as he missed the 2021 season and had just 27 tackles in 2020 despite playing all 16 games. If he holds off Josh Uche (who struggled today), he may be one of the biggest winners of Patriots camp. (More to come on him later in the week).
He showed his elite speed throughout camp, including making Terrance Mitchell whiff on a route. He could be earning himself a starting receiver spot. I feel he could be an outstanding player if he can continue to get open. Thornton also beat Joejuan Williams on a slant and had a diving catch on the sideline later in the day.
Despite getting beat by Thornton (he wasn’t the only one), he is a winner simply because he is with the first team defense and is holding his own against the first team offense. He seems likely to get more playing time in the regular season and seems like a lock to make the team which was in doubt before, as he had just 44 tackles in three seasons.
Wynn is a winner today as he opened up two enormous holes for Damien Harris and had an overall solid day (besides having to run a penalty lap). Still, more importantly, Trent Brown frequently ran laps for mental gaffes. If this continues, Wynn will be our left tackle, and Brown will be on the right side or a backup.
Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux
Both defensive tackles had a fantastic day today in one-on-one and 11 on 11 drills. This could be a great pair of run stoppers this year. Barmore had Cole Strange struggling all day (showing he may not be ready to start Week One).
He was outstanding against outside runs, which could help him get more snaps against the run, especially against running backs known for getting to the outside. More performances like this in camp and preseason games would be crucial in him making the team, especially as he is suspended two games to start the year, so he is likely at a disadvantage to make the team out of camp.
He had a solid day going 10/15 passing, and showed his scrambling ability on a touchdown to Devin Asiasi. His biggest win may be Brian Hoyer being inactive, which gives him a chance to possibly steal the backup job as a rookie from Brian Hoyer. At the very least, he is ensuring he will make gameday rosters as the third quarterback.
Regardless of what happened, he is the biggest winner of the day as he signed a four-year, 13.5 million dollar contract with 6.5 million guaranteed. He is now the second highest-paid punter in the NFL.
Patriots Cap Space
Bailey’s contract restructuring and extension gave us 1.85 million in additional cap space, leaving up with about 4.5 million to spend. Could that be for Odell Beckham? We did lose a little cap space for next year, but we still have over 50 million next year (second most in the NFL), so we could have another considerable spending spree next year.
Need To Improve
He had a mediocre day in camp despite playing with the scout team, which is slightly concerning after being a healthy scratch for 13 games last year despite being a third-round pick. He could be a surprise cut if he does not have a good preseason.
He had an up and down practice as he allowed a 40-yard catch by DeVante Parker but also broke up two passes, including one in the red zone against Thornton. The bigger concern is that he was taking a significant portion of his reps with the backups, which may indicate a reduced role this season.
He had one massive connection to Parker but missed several wide-open receivers and had several passes broken up. I don’t think this is a long-term concern as he did not have these issues last season, but it was not a good start in pads for him.
Besides frequently running penalty laps, he was also beaten in a one-on-one drill. As a result, he is not doing what he needs to in order to steal the left tackle spot from Wynn. It may be a good idea to play Brown at right tackle regardless because he was outstanding there for the Raiders and 49ers.
Not being able to practice could affect his entire career as Bailey Zappe may be closing the gap for the backup job, and a 36-year-old third-string QB could easily be cut and more so when they are making almost two million with just a 240,000 dead cap hit.
There seemed to be several players who were frequently running penalty laps. Again, it could be the adrenaline and rust after not wearing pads in practice for seven months, but it could affect us in the regular season if it is not corrected.
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