Lazar’s Pats Camp Notebook Day 10: Lions, Matthew Stafford Get Better of Patriots Defense

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ALLEN PARK, Mich — the Patriots and the Lions held a highly competitive joint practice on Tuesday morning that saw the Detroit offense fight back against the New England defense.

On Monday, and during one-on-ones, the Patriots defense had the upper hand as it had against its own offense in Foxboro.

However, Matthew Stafford and company delivered a bit of a wake-up call for the Patriots starters on a touchdown drive during 11-on-11s at the end of practice.

Stafford completed passes on Stephon Gilmore, JC Jackson, Jason McCourty and Patrick Chung with the final throw resulting in a touchdown to rookie TJ Hockenson.

The Patriots starters thoroughly dominated the New England offense through eight practices and Detroit’s on the first day of joint sessions, but it was an off day for the group on Tuesday.

On the attendance front, safety Patrick Chung returned in his non-contact red jersey after missing Monday’s practice.

Now that we’ve taken attendance, let’s empty the notebook:

1. N’Keal Harry Makes Highlight-Reel Catch, Suffers Injury 

The Pats rookie had an eventful day starting things off with a terrific one-handed grab on a pass from Jarrett Stidham in 11-on-11s. Harry ran a goal-line fade and plucked the ball over his head while keeping his feet in bounds to complete the catch. For Harry, these eye-popping contested catches are becoming a daily occurrence at practice. The bad news is that the rookie suffered what appeared to be a right hamstring injury later on in the session. Harry was blocking on the perimeter when he fell off the block to the ground and then hobbled off, holding the back of his right leg. The 2019 first-round pick tried to stretch his leg out on the sideline, and did return for one play, but sat out the last two periods of 11-on-11s and didn’t run the hill with his teammates after practice. Hopefully, we’ll see Harry again tomorrow or at the very least in Thursday night’s preseason opener.

2. Results From One-On-Ones: Patriots WRs vs. Lions DBs 

For the second consecutive day, the two teams went through a period of one-on-ones pitting the wide receivers against the cornerbacks. The Pats wideouts went 7-15 against the Lions defensive backs with three wins for Maurice Harris, two for Phillip Dorsett, and one apiece for Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski on the plays that I charted. On the flip side, I also had N’Keal Harry losing two out of his three reps (the third was a bad throw) and Jakobi Meyers losing both of his. We’ll get into more detail in three up, three down but a mixed bag from the Pats wideouts.

3. Wynn Watch: Still No Contact for 2018 First-Rounder

Wynn sat out the contact portion of practice once again on Monday as we await his return. Wynn rotated in with the starting offensive line during warmups at left tackle, went through positional drills and conditioning. It was once again Dan Skipper joining Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon as the starting left tackle for the Patriots. Skipper won both of his one-on-ones but did allow a pressure during 11-on-11s.

4. Patriots Starting Defensive Front in 11-on-11s 

The first group out for the Patriots front seven during team drills was as follows:

DE – Lawrence Guy
DT – Danny Shelton
DE – Adam Butler
SAM – Jamie Collins
WILL – John Simon
ILB – Dont’a Hightower
ILB – Elandon Roberts

Don’t look too much into things here as the Patriots continue to experiment with different combinations. But they’ve used Butler quite a bit as a big defensive end, and Collins and Hightower switch places regularly as on the line, off the line linebackers.

5. Shilique Calhoun in the Mix For a Roster Spot

Calhoun was a late addition by the Patriots signing with New England back in May, but he’s starting to stand out here in Detroit. The Michigan State product was a highly productive three-starter for the Spartans before going to the Raiders in the third round of the 2016 draft. Things didn’t work out for Calhoun in Oakland, so he hit the open market, and now he’s getting first-team reps with the Patriots as an edge defender. Calhoun has terrific athleticism which opens up a pass-rushing skill set, but he also made a few plays in the running game on Tuesday. Early on in practice, Calhoun, the strong side defensive end, knifed through a double team and made a big tackle on the running back in the backfield. Calhoun also would’ve recorded a sack during 11-on-11s beating Lions starting right tackle Ricky Wagner. He was on my “up” list the last few days due to his reps in one-on-ones, and now he’s also making plays during team drills. The preseason games will be big for Calhoun as he battles with Derek Rivers and John Simon for the last edge spot.

6. Chase Winovich is a Celebrity, Playing Well 

Other than Tom Brady, Winovich might be the most popular Patriot in Detroit. The University of Michigan star has a massive amount of support from Lions fans and family that live in the area. On the field, Winovich had the rep of the day in one-on-ones beating Lions starting left tackle Taylor Decker with a speed/rip move off the edge. He then thoroughly dominated the Lions’ backup right tackle during team drills. As is the case with all rookies, Belichick is taking it slow with Winovich, but my guess is he’ll be running with the starters by the end of camp.

7. Three Up, Three Down 

Three Up: WR Phillip Dorsett, WR Braxton Berrios, DT Danny Shelton

Dorsett – Dorsett ran a terrific route in one-on-ones to beat Lions cornerback Darius Slay on a comeback on the sideline and then caught a bomb from Brady during team drills. Dorsett has consistently made it difficult for cornerbacks to cover him since the start of camp.

Berrios – the second-year slot receiver was a jitterbug during one-on-ones creating separation with sharp cuts at the top of his routes. He also caught a touchdown on a slant from Brady during red zone work where he jumped inside the corner giving Brady an easy throwing lane.

Shelton – the big nose tackle took starter reps over Mike Pennel on Tuesday. I still expect Pennel to the guy, but if the Pats play odd fronts on early downs, Shelton is a valuable depth piece in the middle.

Three Down: CB Duke Dawson, CB JC Jackson, WR Jakobi Meyers

Dawson – the 2018 second-round pick is in an uphill battle to make the roster. Dawson tends to only reach with his right arm/hand to break up passes, even if he has to go across his body to do so. Today, he tried it again and gave up a completion, and by wrong-arming it, he took himself out of position to make the tackle. He was also flagged for a penalty with the refs present for the session.

Jackson – Jackson is still trending in the right direction but had an off day on Tuesday. He got beat a few times during team drills, and he’s having some trouble with penalties. Jackson’s grabby style of coverage could lend itself to some untimely flags for the Patriots this season.

Meyers – the hype train slows down slightly as Meyers couldn’t separate in either of his one-on-ones and took some reps with the second unit during team drills. I still have high hopes for Meyers, but today was a good reminder for all of us that he’s still a rookie.