Phil Perry

Patriots training camp stock watch: Trent Brown rising quickly

The big offensive tackle appears to have made great strides since minicamp.

NBC Universal, Inc.

FOXBORO -- Go ahead and call these early-camp practices non-competitive. But don't describe them that way to players, who clearly had plenty of juice as they went at it in the red zone on Wednesday.

Receivers got the crowd going more than once. Defensive players whooped it up after big plays. Cole Strange and Hunter Henry met for a flying chest bump after one touchdown.

There was energy. There was effort. It was competitive. In spurts, at least.

What did we glean from those competitive moments? Have a look at our first Stock Watch of the summer: 

Stock Up

Trent Brown

The big offensive tackle showed up to Foxboro early and in shape. He passed his conditioning test. He took on a full workload in his first camp practice, he seemed to hold his own, and he was locked in at left tackle.

After missing most of mandatory minicamp -- his flight was delayed due to weather, then he participated in only one drill before being taken off the field -- Brown's stock has risen more than any player's here. The Patriots need him. They need him in shape. They need him at his best because when he is, he can be one of the best tackles in the game. He's trending in the right direction. He even looked strong in sprints after practice.

Kyle Dugger

When the offense and defense came together for the first time, it was a 7-on-7 period featuring best on best. Mac Jones was out there with his two big tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki, as well as wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker. The defense answered with Christian Gonzalez, Jonathan Jones, Kyle Dugger and a bevy of other regulars with boatloads of experience together.

First rep? Gesicki looked open as he streaked to the back of the end zone, but Dugger stepped in front of his coverage assignment and snared Jones' pass for an interception.

Expected to be seeing an elevated role as a leader with Devin McCourty gone, the soft-spoken Dugger is one of the team's most talented players. If he can continue to get his hands on the football, he'll be able to lead by example without going too far outside his comfort zone as an emotional beacon.

Hunter Henry

Both Henry and Gesicki were consistently on the field with Mac Jones as receivers -- primarily Smith-Schuster, Parker, Tyquan Thornton and Kendrick Bourne -- rotated in around them. But it was Henry who outperformed them all on Day 1.

He caught two touchdowns on the afternoon in 11-on-11 work, including one where he beat Gonzalez and then hyped up the crowd in the immediate aftermath. He was targeted three times in total by Jones, who clearly trusts the veteran tight end. The pair could often be seen together talking things over between series.

"He comes in, positive energy, he doesn't complain about anything," Jones said. "He just works. That's something that I really try to follow."

Let's mention Demario "Pop" Douglas with this group as well. He didn't catch a pass in competitive periods -- red-zone work is not ideal for someone with his body type when space is tight and size is preferred -- but he did get reps with Jones and the top group. He was the lone rookie to work in with that unit. Not a bad sign for the sixth-rounder out of Liberty.

Stock Down

Riley Reiff

The good news for Reiff? He looks like the odds-on favorite to start at right tackle. The bad news? He had a hard time with the speed and quickness of Josh Uche on Wednesday. There was one rep where there appeared to be a communication breakdown on the right side of the line and Uche had an open lane to Mac Jones early in the down. On another, Uche blew past Reiff with relative ease.

The right tackle spot was an issue last season -- Isaiah Wynn had nine penalties in nine games and rarely looked comfortable after shifting over from left tackle -- and it will be an early focus of ours in camp again this year.

Bailey Zappe

Neither of the top two quarterbacks lit the world ablaze in the first practice of camp. Jones went 5-for-10 in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work combined. Zappe went 4-for-10 working with (and against) second-teamers. Zappe didn't complete any of his first four attempts in 11-on-11 work, and he had a couple of clear misses on off-platform throws. Both of his completions in 11-on-11 (he went 2-for-7 in that period) were tipped at the line and still caught.

Zappe's height and arm strength were held against him by scouts entering the league out of Western Kentucky last year. On Wednesday, those hard-to-change elements of his game popped up as limiting.

Jack Jones

There was very little about Jones' play that stood out on Wednesday. It was when he played that seemed worthy of note. After performing as one of the team's best defenders in OTAs and minicamp -- thought not always with the starters -- he was with the second defense to start training camp.

Was the team sending him a message after his offseason arrest at Logan Airport? Was it simply preparing for the possibility that he won't be available in September? Hard to crawl into Bill Belichick's head to find out what his thought process is as it relates to Jones' workload, but the second-year corner's looming legal situation could make it hard for Belichick to give Jones a heaping helping of top-of-the-depth-chart reps. Even if he's one of their most gifted boundary corners.

Let's mention Marte Mapu here as well since Mapu continues to don a red non-contact jersey. He played in the slot and at the second level, continuing to flash his apparent versatility. The 230-pound linebacker-safety hybrid had a pass ripped away from him by Ty Montgomery at one point for a touchdown.

Contact Us