Lazar’s Patriots Training Camp Recap: Thoughts On All 88 Participants

After 12 competitive practices, here's where everyone on the Patriots roster stands.

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With Patriots training camp in the rearview mirror, here’s a nugget on every player we saw over 12 competitive practices:

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady – He looks ready for his 20th NFL season. Any decline in Brady’s numbers will be a result of his supporting cast.

Brian Hoyer – Interesting times ahead for the Pats top backup. Hoyer makes good decisions and is an accurate passer. He’s also BFFs with Brady, but there’s no ceiling with him as your backup.

Jared Stidham – The rookie made considerable strides with timing and decision making over the last few weeks to combine with above-average arm talent. He could push Hoyer out, but that likely won’t happen until next season.

Backfield Players

Sony Michel – After a great rookie season, a full training camp is paying off for Michel in year two. He looks about the same as a runner, which isn’t bad and is now adding more as a receiver.

Jame White – Observing White on a day to day basis is fun. He’s a pro that practices everything the right way. He’ll be a big part of the offense once again this season.

Rex Burkhead – Everyone wants to find ways to get rid of Burkhead, but he’s an all-around solid back. He’s an underrated route runner.

Damien Harris – The rookie from Alabama is dealing with a hand injury. His running style is similar to Michel, but he’s doing more in the passing game than Sony did as a rookie. We’ll see how he’s incorporated into the offense.

Brandon Bolden – We know Bolden can play special teams, but he was pretty impressive as a runner. He’s physical with good vision and contact balance. He knows where the holes are and makes great cuts off his blocks.

James Develin – You can never have too much Develin. Dude is a battering ram.

Nick Brossette – The undrafted rookie has no chance to make the 53-man roster. He’ll continue to get carries in the preseason to limit the workload of the lead backs.

Jakob Johnson – Johnson is guaranteed a spot on the practice squad. He’s competing his butt off and absorbing everything he can, but it’s way too early to tell if he has a future in football.

Wide Receivers 

N’Keal Harry – Harry’s injury is unfortunate. He made at least one highlight-reel catch a day it seemed during camp but is still losing ground out of his breaks. I’m interested to see how Josh McDaniels schemes things up for Harry.

Jakobi Meyers – It’s hard not to be excited about Meyers. His releases at the line of scrimmage are excellent. He does a fantastic job of threatening leverages and making defensive backs lean the wrong way. At the top of the route, he uses those releases to get body positioning where his catch radius and strong hands finish receptions. Add in quick processing speed against zone coverage, and you got the makings of a solid receiver in this system.

Philip Dorsett – Dorsett had a nice camp. He looks comfortable in the Pats offense, and his speed adds an element that they don’t have elsewhere. He’s limited somewhat by size and route tree.

Maurice Harris – Harris has inside-outside versatility, size and typically sure hands. McDaniels should make him into a useful receiver with his tools.

Dontrelle Inman – The Patriots gave Inman more opportunities this week. He’s smooth like Meyers but hasn’t finished plays with the same aggressiveness as the rookie. He could make a late push.

Braxton Berrios – The second-year wideout struggled to separate early in camp but is ascending now. A strong performance against the Lions led to a solid two days in Nashville. He’ll probably never be Danny Amendola, but he has a similar style with good burst and short-area quickness out of the slot.

Damoun Patterson – Patterson is not an NFL wide receiver. He’s got speed, but everything else about his game is extremely unrefined. The Pats might try to retain him on the practice squad because his speed will help them mimic speedsters on the scout team offense.

Gunner Olszewski – Gunner ran his best route on the final day of training camp in one-on-ones against the Titans. He has come a long way as a route runner, especially considering he’s a converted defensive back, but he’s fighting for a practice squad spot.

Ryan Davis – Davis did nothing noteworthy in the 12 competitive practices that we saw. Just a camp body.

Tight Ends

Benjamin Watson – The 38-year-old is the Patriots’ best bet to get anything out of this group in the passing game. He’s not fast, but he can still run well enough to challenge linebackers.

Matt LaCosse – The journeymen tight end is a straight-line speed guy. He can get up the seam and is strong at the catch point. But he won’t offer much nuance in his horizontal cuts and struggled throughout camp as an in-line blocker.

Stephen Anderson – Anderson had a hot start, but injuries caught up to him. He’s more of a jumbo wideout than a tight end. He can play in the slot or even out wide, but he’s too small to handle in-line duties as a blocker.

Lance Kendricks – The veteran had a weird camp coming in late and then suffering an injury. Learning the Pats playbook on the fly isn’t easy, and he isn’t challenging guys much in coverage.

Ryan Izzo – The 2018 seventh-round pick is arguably the best blocker in this group. He has the potential to make an impact in that regard, but he offers nothing as a receiver.

Andrew Beck – The Patriots experimented with Beck as a fullback, an interesting idea. I’d stash him on the practice squad this season and see if he can develop into a lesser version of Kyle Juszczyk.

Eric Saubert – We didn’t get to see much of Saubert after the trade earlier this week. He’s got size and some athleticism, but he’s a self-described “utility man” that’s mostly a special teamer.

Offensive Line

Isaiah Wynn – The Patriots’ top pick in the 2018 draft was a full go this week. He’s 100 percent healthy, and his feet and technique are fantastic — plug and play starter.

Joe Thuney – Thuney picked up where he left off in the Super Bowl when he shut down Aaron Donald. His footwork and core balance are excellent. He’s going to sign a massive deal soon.

David Andrews – The Pats center is the vocal leader of this group. He’s a pretty good football player, too. His knowledge of the schemes is impressive.

Shaq Mason – A master at his craft during camp, Mason should contend for All-Pro status this season. He overwhelms people, smothering pass rushers in one-on-ones.

Marcus Cannon – The veteran right tackle gives the Patriots two bulldozers on the right side. He’s also tough to beat in one-on-ones leaning on his size and upper body strength to absorb rushers.

Dan Skipper – I have my doubts that Skipper will ever be a starting tackle. His feet are a mess, he’s either crossing them or lunging, and he plays too tall to anchor or generate any force. When he keeps his technique and relies on his size, he can be serviceable.

Ted Karras – Karras had a bad day on Wednesday against the Titans, but there isn’t a huge dropoff in the play of the five-man unit when he subs in with the starters. He’s a valuable depth piece.

Hjalte Froholdt – The Danish Destroyer is a future starter. His footwork and ability to reach blocks on the interior is impressive, and he’s a well-balanced pass protector that can mirror all kinds of rushers.

James Ferentz – The son of a coach does a lot of things well technique-wise. He has some of the best hands in the OL group, continually maneuvering to better his grip and leverage. He’s limited as an athlete in a motion-heavy scheme, but he can play in this league.

Cole Croston – Croston hasn’t improved all that much since he first got to New England in 2017. He lets guys get underneath him too often, making it hard to play to his strengths, which are his hand usage and length.

Tyree St. Louis – I was pleasantly surprised by the undrafted rookie. He’s got good enough lateral agility and mass to play tackle in the NFL. Hopefully, they can stash him on the practice squad.

Cedrick Lang – Lang is a big guy with an ideal frame, but he lacks the foot speed to play tackle at a high level.

Martez Ivey – Ivey is a little slow out of his stance and plays too tall. He’s got powerful mitts though and can lock down guys when he gets his hands on them.

Tyler Gauthier – Gauthier showed a lot of improvement over the last few weeks. He has good size and power for the position — another practice squad candidate.

Defensive Line

Lawrence Guy – Guy is an absolute technician that can play anywhere on the defensive line. He’s a baller.

Michael Bennett – The Pats moved Bennett all over the defensive front, and he’s going to be a two-way force this season. His first-step quickness is rare. It’s been a while since we’ve seen that kind of get off in New England.

Adam Butler – As the Patriots move to three-man lines, they’ve experimented with Butler as a big defensive end. He has the pass-rush skill set to do it, and he has flashed some improvement against the run. He’s taking first-team reps.

Mike Pennel Jr. – In a little bit of a surprise, Pennel is losing snaps to Danny Shelton of late. Pennel was doing just fine as a rock in the middle of the Pats defense, so maybe the team wanted to see more of Shelton.

Danny Shelton – Shelton’s first-step has improved some, and he’s also using his arms and hands better to press blockers. He looks better than a year ago.

Deatrich Wise – Wise did nothing wrong to warrant some of the surprise cut talk, but he’ll have to kick inside more to play in odd fronts. Wise can play as a five-technique over the tackle, he’s got the length and size, but it’ll take more discipline than pass rushing.

David Parry – The four-year pro is like a bull in a China shop. He explodes off the ball and can wreck things in the middle, but his aggressiveness might not be the best thing in the Pats scheme.

Byron Cowart – I’m becoming a huge fan. He’s a great athlete and thumper that can play from multiple alignments. If he can refine his technique, he fits what the Pats do well.

Keionta Davis – Davis looks like the same guy as last year. He’ll push the pocket but lacks nuance. I’d rather they keep Cowart at this stage.

Nick Thurman – Unless the coaches see something that I don’t, which is entirely possible, Thurman had a few good reps in one-on-ones, and that’s it. I’d be shocked if he makes the 53.

Ufomba Kamalu – Another raw athletic freak that has some exciting tools, but Kamalu still has no plan as a pass rusher and wins with athleticism in the running game. Don’t see him making it either.

Edge Defenders

Chase Winovich – The third-rounder has done a little bit of everything so far, which is a testament to his football IQ. He’s played as a stand-up edge rusher, hand in the dirt defensive end, and even rushed over the center. He’s got an excellent first step and a natural bend to turn the corner.

John Simon – Simon was the forgotten one out of his group, but he’s taking first-team reps. He’s a smart and intuitive player that executes the various schemes the Pats use in the pass rush well.

Shilique Calhoun – One of the breakout players of camp, Calhoun has a real shot at the 53. He plays a physical brand of football that took me by surprise with heavy hands and a thumpers mentality. He offers length and athleticism as a pass rusher, and can also set the edge. The Pats might’ve found one here.

Derek Rivers – Rivers added a few new moves to his pass-rush toolbox with a long arm and jab step move, but he’s still mostly a speed or speed to power guy. The team hasn’t given up on him yet.

Trent Harris – Harris is a longshot to make the roster. He could maybe contribute on special teams, but there are too many bodies ahead of him on defense.

Linebackers

Dont’a Hightower – This is the best I’ve seen Hightower look physically in some time. He’s moving extremely well while still maintaining his patented power.

Kyle Van Noy – One of the best trash talkers on the team, Van Noy brings some levity to camp. He also looks in control within the scheme and is moving all over. He’ll pick up where he left off last season.

Jamie Collins – Collins has been one of the best stories of camp so far. His reclamation project is in full swing as he rotates from off the ball to on the ball depending on where they put Hightower. The Patriots haven’t had a linebacker that can cover grass as fast as Collins since, well, Collins.

Ja’Whaun Bentley – One of the early breakout stars of 2018, Bentley looks like he’s playing himself into shape. His instincts, pursuit angles and physicality against the run are all still there. But I’d like to see him moving better in space.

Elandon Roberts – it’s a numbers game this summer for Roberts. He’s a good two-down linebacker that plays the run well and has improved in coverage. Roberts’s development against play-action is pretty remarkable.

Brandon King – King is getting some run on the second unit but is going to make the team as a special teamer. I wouldn’t be stunned if they cut King, but I’m not expecting it to happen.

Christian Sam – The 2018 sixth-round pick flashed at the beginning of camp with a few big hits on the goal line but continues to run with the second unit. He has a good feel for blocking schemes against the run.

Calvin Munson – Munson is an interesting competitor for King as a special teamer and reserve linebacker. He plays the game at a good pace and doesn’t have much wasted movement.

Terez Hall – The undrafted rookie is a great athlete, but he’s undersized and undisciplined. A potential practice squad candidate with future special teams value.

Cornerbacks 

Stephon Gilmore – Watching Gilmore practice is an absolute treat. I wish I could do it all season. He’s calm and in control at all times. A total stud.

Jason McCourty – McCourty continues to take starter reps opposite Gilmore. Jason has a better understanding of the defense in year two and is a positionally sound corner, but he’s not a playmaker like Jackson.

JC Jackson – If JC broke out last season, he’s one of the best bets to make the leap this season. He suffocates guys in man coverage and has excellent downfield ball skills. If he continues to show improvements in zone coverage, it won’t be long before he starts playing over McCourty.

Jon Jones – Jones was excellent throughout camp working out of the slot. He’s starting to see things quicker and is incredibly sticky in coverage.

JoJuan Williams – The rookie has a long way to go with his technique and knowledge of the coverage system. He’s improving at the line of scrimmage, which is helping him stay in phase.

Duke Dawson – Dawson had a strong close to camp after a horrible few weeks. He doesn’t have the short-area quickness to react to cuts at the top of the route, so he needs to anticipate route breaks based on tendencies.

Keion Crossen – Crossen has all the tools, but he’s still raw at the top of the route. He’s got core special teamer written all over him.

Ken Webster – The rookie was only out there for three of the 12 practices starting camp on the PUP list. We’ll see how he looks in the preseason games.

D’Angelo Ross – Ross is now on injured reserve ending his 2019 season, but he made the most of his opportunities in camp. Although he’s undersized, the undrafted rookie was extremely strappy in coverage getting the better of Braxton Berrios and other in one-on-ones. He’ll be on the watch list for 2020.

Safeties 

Devin McCourty – Ho-hum camp for Devin. He still looks like a quality starter.

Patrick Chung – Chung spent camp in a red non-contact jersey, but he had some good battles with Jesse James, TJ Hockenson and Delanie Walker. He’s good to go once he takes the red jersey off.

Duron Harmon – Harmon could be a surprise cut. He’s a serviceable backup, but he lacks the anticipatory skills to be a real difference-maker on the backend.

Terrence Brooks – Who knew Terrence Brooks would play so much defense? They’re grooming him as a backup to Chung but with less responsibility. He’ll play on special teams too.

Obi Melifonwu – I want Obi to make the roster, but he’s still very raw. He needs to improve his eye discipline and focus in coverage.

Malik Gant – The undrafted rookie made a few plays on the ball in camp but doesn’t have the athleticism.

AJ Howard – Howard has played some safety and corner. He moves pretty well, but there’s too much depth in the secondary for him to make the 53.

Specialists

Ryan Allen – There’s something to be said about a punter that boots it the expected distance every time. That’s Allen.

Jake Bailey – Bailey is a classic big-legged punter. His hits are majestic, but his misfires are ugly. He’s pretty good on kickoffs too. We got a close one.

Stephen Gostkowski – The Patriots didn’t bring in any competition at kicker. Gostkowski is the guy.

Joe Cardona – No competition for Cardona either, and there were no mishaps with the operation in camp.

Matthew Slater – Slater’s special teams only practice routine is fascinating. He’s a great football player and leader.

Nate Ebner – We only saw Ebner for three practices, but he projects as a core special teamer once again.