Phil Perry

Patriots training camp stock watch: Barmore flashes special potential

The Patriots' big defensive tackle made an immediate impact when the pads came on Monday.

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FOXBORO -- The Patriots didn't run a live goal-line period at any point during last year's training camp. That made it a bit of a surprise when Bill Belichick had his players take their places at the two-yard line at the end of Monday's session.

For fans in attendance who knew they were going to see the Patriots in pads, that was their lone opportunity to see a full-contact drill. It lasted only four snaps, but they were treated to some real physicality.

"It's kind of like man-up or shut up," Davon Godchaux said. "It's one of those things where you don't want to get pushed back into the end zone, but you want to push the offensive linemen backwards. It's kind of that man-up, gut-up period." 

The offense and defense split the reps, winning two each. It began with a handoff to Kevin Harris, who ran into a crowd led by rookie Keion White, but burrowed his way into the end zone. Jabrill Peppers blew up linebacker-turned-fullback Jahlani Tavai on the second snap to stop Harris in his tracks. After an incomplete pass from Mac Jones to Hunter Henry, Pierre Strong plunged into the end zone for the final play of the practice.

The Peppers hit -- he moved like he was shot out of a cannon on the left side of the offensive formation -- on his defensive teammate felt like a signal that real football had arrived. It was the most aggressive hit of the practice.

"That was our only live period," Peppers said. "Try to set the edge and box it up as much as possible and let the 'backers scrape over the top... Love that. That's the closest to real football you can get.

"You don't really start hitting until the preseason. Whenever I can build that callous and get my body back into the swing of things, I love that."

Peppers is deserving of a Stock Up mention based on that play alone. Who joins him based on Monday's work? Let's find out...

Stock Up

Christian Barmore

When the pads come on, our focus turns to the big bodies along the line of scrimmage. And Barmore was a player who consistently stood out as difficult to block. He had a sack on Bailey Zappe about midway through the practice and seemed to be the reason why there were a handful of pileups along the interior during running-game snaps.

Barmore dealt with an injury last season that prevented him from truly taking off in Year 2. He had only 231 pass-rushing snaps. But his pass-rush win rate (14.9) ranked sixth in the NFL among qualifiers last season -- ahead of players like Quinnen Williams (13.7) and DeForest Buckner (13.1).

If he can stay healthy, there's not a player on this roster who seems more likely to enter into the conversation as one of the elite players in the NFL at his position.

Myles Bryant

While the bigger bodies are deserving of the spotlight when the physicality gets ratcheted up, there were still opportunities for smaller players to stand out. Bryant, for example, got early attaboys from teammates and coaches when he blew up a bubble screen.

It should also be pointed out that Bryant was with the top defense in the secondary on Monday, with Jonathan Jones and Christian Gonzalez playing on the outside.

Demario "Pop" Douglas

Another undersized player. Another eye-opening performance with the pads on. Another day for Douglas' stock to rise.

He got a tremendous reaction from the gaggle of offensive players and coaches watching when he made impactful blocks twice during a bubble-screen-focused period. He freed up Malik Cunningham and Tre Nixon for long runs after their receptions because he was able to get up underneath the pads of defenders and move them.

For a player who had made a statement with his quickness and sure hands prior to Monday, it was impressive that he was able to maintain some positive momentum because of his blocking.

Jabrill Peppers spoke with the media following the Patriots first practice with pads on in training camp. He spoke highly of rookie Demario Douglass out of Liberty, and the physicality he brings.

Kevin Harris

The Patriots seem to have their in-house backup to Rhamondre Stevenson settled. Harris was consistently the first back on the field with Stevenson getting a down day. He handled the first two carries of the goal-line period, and he was mixed in with Mac Jones as both a runner and a pass-catcher throughout the practice.

We'll see if the Patriots add a veteran like Ezekiel Elliott, but Harris seems to have impressed his teammates.

"Big, strong, physical guy," Godchaux said of Harris. "SEC guy, if I'm not mistaken (South Carolina). He has very powerful legs. Once he has the opportunity, you gotta take advantage of it."

Harris seemed to take advantage Monday. He had one Mac Jones pass glance off his fingertips, but he caught two Jones checkdowns and protected the football sufficiently. He also had an explosive cut to daylight on a wide-zone run that led to a healthy gain.

Bryce Baringer

The rookie sixth-rounder lit it up in the punt game on Monday. He had multiple punts that hung for over 5.0 seconds, which is rare. Some drew audible reactions from the crowd in attendance. Also rare.

Both rookie specialists -- Baringer and kicker Chad Ryland -- have been able to show off big legs in the last two days of practice. Good showings by both through the early portion of camp.

Stock Down

Cole Strange

Through no fault of his own, Strange was barely able to participate in Monday's practice because of injury. He got tangled up with Lawrence Guy early in the session and went down with a left knee issue. He spent much of the practice getting examined by the Patriots training staff and medical personnel.

But it seems as though the 2022 first-rounder dodged a bullet. After going through a relatively extensive workout following the injury -- featuring high-knees, backpedals, side-shuffles and simulated pulling-action movements -- he returned to the field with his helmet on but did not participate.

We'll track his availability moving forward. Worth wondering if the knee braces that Patriots linemen are required to wear on the field (and have been for a while) saved Strange from suffering a more serious injury.

Patriots offensive line depth

When Strange left, rookie fifth-rounder Atonio Mafi stepped into his spot at left guard. He didn't stand out in a negative fashion, but the depth along the line was certainly stressed. Chasen Hines missed time injured on Monday as well.

With Trent Brown not participating -- Brown, Matthew Judon and Rhamondre Stevenson appeared to get a day off -- and with rookie interior lineman Jake Andrews missing for a second-straight practice, there weren't many bodies available to offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. At one point during an 11-on-11 period, the Patriots had only one side of the defensive line rush the passer. It looked like that was one way for the team to manage the reps the offensive line had to go through with their numbers reduced.

Bill Belichick met with the entire team late in the practice to tell them to be smart, stay on their feet, and try to keep one another healthy. That didn't keep Bill Murray tweaking something on the final play of the goal-line period. How this unit holds up -- especially since there are questions about their depth at tackle -- will be one of the main storylines through the rest of camp.

Defensive line patience

Both Deatrich Wise and Sam Roberts jumped offsides because of hard counts coming from the opposite side of the line of scrimmage and had to run laps. Jones got Wise, while Roberts was duped by Zappe.

Jalen Hurd

The Patriots' recent acquisition at wide receiver had one of the plays of the day on Sunday, making a touchdown grab in the back of the end zone through tight coverage. But he had a drop on Monday and later in the practice was spotted in the medical/training space behind the practice fields, alongside the equipment shed.

As a player who has dealt with physical ailments throughout his career -- the 2019 third-round pick still has not played in an NFL game -- he'll need to remain available to the Patriots to have a shot at cracking the roster.

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