Curran: Mac Jones shows some quick feet in 11-on-11 drills


For a minute there, it looked like Mac Jones was getting iced in 11-on-11s. Toward the end of practice, when the Patriots finally broke into a competitive 11-on-11, drive-it-down-the-field session, Cam Newton ran with the first team.

Then Brian Hoyer came on and led the offense of mostly backups the other way. That session had been, for the last week or so, Jones’ session. Had the rookie been relegated?

Nope. When Hoyer was done, the first-team offense came back on the field and Jones led it back the other way. It was an interesting takeaway from what I’d describe as a fruits-and-vegetables practice -- lots of important work done but nothing too tasty to sink your teeth into. It serves as further evidence of the fact Jones continues to have plenty put on his plate in his first training camp. And he does a nice job with it.

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It was a big day for the running game and the Patriots defense seemed to do a nice job plugging holes and walling things up against the combo of Sony Michel and Damien Harris. It’s hard to definitively say where plays would have been extinguished since there’s no tackling to the ground and the backs usually finish their run even after they’ve been “thudded” but the on-paper talent in the Patriots front-seven is showing up as well in these practices.

One player worth noting from Monday was tight end Matt Lacosse. With Hunter Henry absent from practice (along with David Andrews and long-snapper Joe Cardona who, like Henry, were dinged on Sunday), Lacosse got a little more run. He showed up in a goal-line rep when Damien Harris ran off tackle and Lacosse did a nice job moving big cornerback Joejuan Williams out of the area to clear the way for Harris to get in.

Two defensive players who we’ve mentioned before having consistently solid camps showed up again. Linebacker Josh Uche got penetration and had would-be sacks twice in 11-on-11s. And corner Adrian Phillips had another good day which included under-cutting a Newton throw to Jonnu Smith and coming up with a pick. Uche was right next to Newton when the ball was released and likely would have had a sack on the play in normal conditions so that pick comes with an asterisk.

Our guy chronicling the quarterback stats, Phil Perry, had Newton at 4-for-10 with two sacks during competitive 11-on-11. Jones was 8-for-11 with a drop.

The reason results may vary between different reporters? The final outcome of plays often doesn’t tell the whole story. For instance, Newton had a completion over the middle to Kendrick Bourne at the goal line that looked like a touchdown. But Devin McCourty was right there on the play and would have lit Bourne up in normal action. McCourty backed off the contact, allowing Bourne the reception. Newton did rip a nice touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers from in close.

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Newton’s best throw of the day was down the right sideline to James White who made a twisting over-the-shoulder catch on the boundary as it dropped in over Kyle Van Noy.

Jones’ best throw was a similar toss to Sony Michel. He also showed he’s adept at throwing on the move during the 11-on-11s. He was forced from the pocket three times and redirected receivers before delivering well-placed balls. Two were complete. One, on the sideline to Kristian Wilkerson was dropped after Jones beckoned him to come back to him as Jones was scrambling. His final throw in that period was incomplete in the back right corner of the end zone as Michael Jackson had nice coverage on N’Keal Harry.

With the Patriots getting ready for Thursday’s preseason opener against WFT and the team being in pads the past two days, Tuesday may be a lighter workout. There’s no practice access for media or fans on Wednesday as the team slides into something resembling a game-week schedule.

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