Live from Patriots Training Camp: Trent Brown thinks Mac Jones can be special

Mark Daniels
The Providence Journal
View Comments

FOXBORO – There have been moments this offseason where you see Mac Jones throw a certain pass and just say, ‘wow.’

There’s no denying that the Patriots first-round pick has made a solid impression so far in New England. Jones has been competitive with Cam Newton during this quarterback competition. The rookie’s coaches have said nice things about him and the same goes for his veterans teammates.

On Tuesday, offensive tackle Trent Brown who was singing Jones’ praises.

“I think he can be special,” said Brown. “It’s a lot going on for him right now. This is a different ballgame. With Bill (Belichick)’s defense, there’s a lot of moving parts out there. So, he’s just to settle down and I think he’ll be alright.”

Jones is the first quarterback to be picked in the first round since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. There’s been a lot of hype and pressure on the rookie, but he seems to be handling it well. Through 12 days of training camp, Jones has completed 66% (124-for-188) of his passes in team drills. He’s thrown three interceptions. Newton has completed 63% of his passes (103-for-164) and has seven interceptions this summer.

During full-team drills, however, Newton is completing 64% of his passes to go with three interceptions. Jones has completed 63% of his throws to go with two interceptions.

When asked why he thinks Jones can be special, Brown pointed out to those eye-opening passes the rookie has had this offseason.

“To be so young, I think he makes some throws that not a lot of young guys can make,” Brown said. “I think it’s all about settling down honestly and knowing you can still play the game. It’s still football. It’s a different level, yeah, but it’s still football. I think that goes for any rookie.”

New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones throws a pass during an NFL football practice, Friday, July 30, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) ORG XMIT: MAEA106

Matt Judon is ready to make an impact and it starts with the preseason

We’ll finally see the Patriots play in a game when they take on the Washington Football Team in their preseason opener on Thursday. That also means we’ll get to see all these newly signed free agents.

This offseason, the Pats spent more money than any team in free agency history. Of course, that doesn’t always work out well for NFL teams. (Go read about the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles 'super team,' which ended up going 8-8.)

For Matt Judon, who was one of the biggest signings for the Patriots, he’s looking forward to kicking his Patriots career off this week. The Pro Bowl pass rusher said he’ll never take a NFL snap for granted – even in the preseason.

“I don’t (get) anxious, but I am ready. Every time I had the opportunity to step on the football field is a gift. I won’t take it for granted,” Judon said. “However many plays I’m playing, if I got to play through the fourth quarter, whatever it is, I’m going to give it my all and my best. You never know when it’s your last play, so take advantage of all of them.” 

The Patriots – and all NFL teams – will get only three preseason games this year, so the time to knock off the rust is a little shorter in years past. Judon said that he never wants to take a play off because he knows everything he does on Thursday will be on film. There’s no hiding from the cameras.

“Like I said, you take every opportunity and you give it your most. You don’t want to put bad film out there,” Judon said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s preseason, the fifth game of the season, you’re playing a team that’s 0-something, or you guys are 0-something, when you go out there, that film lasts forever. We can pull up film from LT [Lawrence Taylor] or Warren Sapp or any of the greats, and whenever they go out there and that eye in the sky is on, they’re performing.” 

New England Patriots linebacker Matt Judon warms up during an NFL football practice, in Foxborough, Mass., Thursday, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) ORG XMIT: MASR109

Quinn Nordin shines in Patriots in-stadium practice

Day 12 of Patriots training camp turned out to be one of the shortest of the summer.

The held their second in-stadium practice of the offseason, but this session ended an hour early. Prior to practice, Bill Belichick said the team would be installing plays in preparation for their preseason opener against Washington. Tuesday’s practice was mainly non-competitive with the offense and defense running at half speed.

Neither Cam Newton nor Mac Jones took any competitive reps in team drills. Instead, this day was about players running through plays that’ll come up on Thursday night. Backup Brian Hoyer participated in two competitive 11-on-11 periods. He finished 4-of-9 with an interception to Harvey Langi.

Hoyer’s first pass attempt was broken up by cornerback Michael Jackson, who defended Tre Nixon well on a deep ball. Jackson has played well recently. The cornerback has an interception and three pass breakups over the last three days of camp. Hoyer’s completions went to Nixon, David Wells, Gunner Olszewski and Troy Fumagalli. Langi, who’s had a solid camp, came away with an interception off of a tipped ball.

Quinn Nordin continues to look outstanding inside Gillette Stadium. The rookie kicker finished practice making all four kicks from distances of 48, 46, 43 and 33 yards. He’s now 14-of-14 in two in-stadium practices this summer.

Jake Bailey was another star of the day. The All-Pro punter had a couple booming punts early in practice. One looked to be around 50 yards and was touched down before the goal line by Kristian Wilkerson. Another, with great range, bounced before the end zone and back around the 2-yard line.  

New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey (7) punts during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif.

Patriots will be missing Hunter Henry for several weeks

The Patriots will be without Hunter Henry for the next several weeks, but it doesn’t appear that Bill Belichick is too worried about his high-priced tight end.

On Tuesday, ESPN reported that Henry is expected to miss “a couple of weeks” due to the shoulder injury he suffered in practice on Sunday. The 26-year-old was hurt while blocking linebacker Anfernee Jennings and had an MRI. Although the injury isn’t considered serious, Henry could miss the entire preseason.

During his morning press conference, Belichick was asked about Henry. Belichick called Henry “day-to-day” and made it clear that he’s not stressed out about the situation.

Earlier this offseason:Hunter Henry, others explain why they didn't skip OTAs

“Hunter has participated in everything that he’s been able to do since he’s been here, so he’s gained a lot of experience in the time that he’s been here. I would say he’s day-to-day,” Belichick said.” And I would say as players improve — and this goes for everybody, not just specifically him — but as players improve and they can do more, then we can gradually work them into things… So (Henry) is day to day. He’ll come back as he can come back.

Big plans:Jonnu Smith hopes to create a new Boston 'TE' party with Hunter Henry

“We have many other players in that category, but Hunter’s a smart guy. He has a lot of experience. He’s been here and done everything that we’ve done as a team, so when we get him back, we’ll get him back, we’ll get him back there in the pace and the schedule that fits his physical situation. But he’ll continue to make progress. There’s still a lot of things that he can do. There may be some things that are limitations, like other players have, but again, we try to focus on what those players can do, not what they can’t do, so they’ll continue to move ahead in the areas that they’re able to.”

The Patriots signed Henry to a three-year, $37.5 million contract in free agency. The team also signed tight end Jonnu Smith to a four-year deal worth $50 million. The two veteran tight ends are expected to play a big role in the Patriots offense in 2021. The team undoubtedly wants both of them healthy to start the season.

Joining the team:Hunter Henry pleasantly surprised to end up with the Patriots

The Pats could hold out Henry for the remainder of the preseason to get him ready for Week 1 against Miami. That wouldn’t be a surprise considering the impact they think he can make. 

13 Patriots missing from Tuesday's practice

The Patriots were without 13 players for Tuesday’s practice at Gillette Stadium — the last practice in Foxboro open to the public until the team’s joint practices with the New York Giants on Aug. 25 and 26.

Christian Barmore was among the absentees. Apparently, the rookie defensive tackle has been dealing with an ankle or foot injury. He was present at the last two practices after missing the previous two sessions. Running back Tyler Gaffney was released to make room for safety Malik Gant. Gant spent the 2019 offseason with the Patriots practice squad. 

Nelson Agholor was present for the start of Patriots practice, but the veteran wide receiver didn't participate after the team stretch. He was a limited participant on Monday after missing Sunday's practice.

Henry (shoulder), David Andrews (hand), Joe Cardona, Nick Folk were also absent. Stephon Gilmore, Chase Winovich, Jarrett Stidham, Terez Hall and Byron Cowart are still on the physically unable to perform list. Cameron McGrone and Joshuah Bledsoe remain on the non-football injury list.

The Patriots had three players return to practice: cornerback D’Angelo Ross, running back Brandon Bolden and safety Adrian Colbert, who was wearing a red non-contact jersey. Bolden and Colbert missed the last three practices. Ross missed the last four sessions.   

Patriots tight end Hunter Henry makes a catch during practice last Thursday. On Sunday, he injured his shoulder and could miss several weeks of training camp.

Why Washington is on the schedule

The Patriots will play their first preseason game on Thursday when they take on the Washington Football Team. On Tuesday, the Pats held a practice inside Gillette Stadium and Bill Belichick said this would be when the team prepared for their preseason opponent.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Washington on the schedule. Belichick said he enjoyed having the Patriots play against coach Ron Rivera-led teams in the preseason because of how well they’re coached.

This is the second season for Rivera in Washington. He was previously in Carolina and the Panthers were a staple on the Patriots' preseason schedule.

“So today we'll start with really the first preparation on Washington and be ready for Thursday night. Obviously, this is a good football team. Well coached,” Belichick said. “Coach Rivera’s always done a good job in Carolina and then had some success last year in Washington. I think he does a great job of having good, sound, fundamental teams that are tough and physical, so this is a good opportunity. I always have liked to play against Coach Rivera's teams in preseason."

“We played Carolina quite a few times since I've been here when Ron was there, so those are good games for us to work on our fundamentals and techniques and see the good, solid, hard-nosed, tough football that he teaches and that they're good at. They have a lot of very good players. They're an explosive team. On offense, they've added a lot of explosive players and one of the top defenses in the league, as they were in Carolina, so it will be a good opportunity for us to give us a chance here to start on our preparation.”

Ron Rivera, pictured when he coached Carolina, is now the coach of the Washington Football Team.

3 Rhode Islanders among Myra Kraft Award honorees

Three Rhode Islanders were among the 26 volunteers who will be recognized as Myra Kraft Community MVP Award winners at a luncheon at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. The winners were selected because of their volunteer efforts at a nonprofit organization in New England. 

The local winners include Lisa Allen, of Providence, for her work at the Fall River (Mass.) Deaconess Home; Alison Hornung, of North Kingstown, Glimmer of Hope Foundation; and Ed Mastriano, of East Providence, MENTOR Rhode Island.

Each organization will receive a $10,000 donation courtesy of their honoree. The Kraft Family will also announce one surprise grand prize winner, whose nonprofit will receive a $25,000 donation. The Kraft Family and New England Patriots Foundation received more than 250 applications for the awards this year.

View Comments