The Patriots returned to their home practice field after a pair of joint practices and a preseason game against the Packers in Green Bay. The team put the pads away in this session, practicing in shorts and shells. Mike Gesicki, Pierre Strong, and Ty Montgomery all made returns, with Gesicki and Strong donning red non-contact jerseys and Montgomery making his first appearance since the first week of camp. Demario Douglas didn’t participate after warm-ups and Keion White left midway through practice after briefly being involved in team drills.
Physically Unable to Perform
- RG Mike Onwenu (ankle)
- ST Cody Davis (knee)
- DL Trey Flowers (unknown)
- OT Calvin Anderson (illness)
Missing/Did Not Participate
- LG Cole Strange (left leg)
- CB Jonathan Jones (unknown)
- IOL Kody Russey (unknown)
- OT Conor McDermott (unknown)
- CB Isaiah Bolden (concussion)
- WR Tyquan Thornton (shoulder)
- WR Tre Nixon (shoulder)
- WR Demario Douglas (unknown)
Red Non-Contact Jersey (excluding quarterbacks, kickers, and punters)
- TE Mike Gesicki (shoulder)
- RB Pierre Strong (concussion)
STEVENSON AND ELLIOTT LOOK LIKE A LEGIT ONE-TWO PUNCH
Ezekiel Elliott was heavily involved behind Rhamondre Stevenson during his second practice in Green Bay, and that continued today in his Foxborough debut. Elliott took snaps with both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, taking handoffs and even lining up in the slot from empty looks.
In addition to a rushing touchdown in the low Red Zone, which to be fair didn’t involve real tackling, Elliott caught three passes with a pair coming from Zappe and the other from Jones.
Adrian Phillips on new #Patriots RB Ezekiel Elliott: "You can tell that he’s a guy that’s hungry. That’s kind of his thing, right?”
AP adds that Elliott "wants to prove he’s still Zeke and I think he is.” pic.twitter.com/nQvlTbuVS4
— Patriots on CLNS (@PatriotsCLNS) August 22, 2023
Adrian Phillips acknowledged how difficult Elliott is to scheme around as a downhill runner who can split out and run routes at a high level. Phillips also called his new teammate “hungry”, a “cool guy” who makes an effort to greet everyone in the locker room, and said Elliott is “motivated to prove he’s still Zeke.”
KAYSHON BOUTTE KEEPS PUSHING FOR FIFTH RECEIVER SPOT
After a slow start to camp, Kayshon Boutte has consistently flashed and made it seem less likely New England will be able to stash him on the practice squad.
Boutte built on his highlight-reel catch and run against the Packers with a productive practice on Tuesday, catching four passes from Bailey Zappe and another from Mac Jones. His most noteworthy grab was a dig during two-minute followed by a Red Zone touchdown to end practice, which drew praise from his teammates. Boutte also showed his versatility by continuing to work with the kick returners early in practice.
I wasn’t so sure about the team keeping six receivers in my most recent roster projection, but Tyquan Thornton has picked it up despite his inability to stay healthy and I would be shocked if Boutte doesn’t make the 53 at this point. With Thornton currently week-to-week with a shoulder injury, the former LSU Tiger has a serious case for the team’s fifth receiver spot.
CHAD RYLAND CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE IN THE WIND
Chad Ryland has shown off a powerful leg throughout camp, which has been both a blessing and a curse at times.
Both in Green Bay and today’s practice, we’ve seen the wind consistently carry his kicks away from their intended target. This led to the rookie going 0-3 on field goals before making his final attempt to close out practice.
Ryland is clearly talented, but he hasn’t shown the ability to control his kicks in inclement weather. This could force New England to carry both Ryland and veteran Nick Folk, who has below-average leg strength but has been much more consistent.
- Myles Bryant made a pair of plays during a two-minute drill toward the end of practice, breaking up one Mac Jones pass and intercepting another shortly after. Both throws were behind their intended targets. and Jones was visibly frustrated after the turnover, hinting that JuJu Smith-Schuster may not have run his route properly. Nevertheless, it was a continuation of what’s been a good camp for the much-maligned Bryant, who was named an offseason award winner.
- Adrian Phillips had a lot of praise for Mac Jones after practice, saying “I’ve seen him grow and change a lot… Overall he’s a way better quarterback. He took last year on the chin… he’s coming in here every single day and trying to light our defense up. Like, literally light our defense up.” Jones was appreciative when told about the remarks, acknowledging he attempts throws in camp that he might not attempt in practice to learn what his offense can and can’t do.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster had a productive day and flashed downfield after being more of an underneath target for most of camp. He caught a deep touchdown pass from both Jones and Zappe today.
- With Tre Nixon being waived for newly-signed nose tackle Marquan McCall, it seems more likely that Thyrick Pitts will make the Patriots’ practice squad. He’s the only true “X” body type the team has besides DeVante Parker, and he had an impressive catch against Christian Gonzalez today.
- Bill Belichick praised guard Bill Murray for his debut at right tackle against the Packers, noting “he did a solid job [against] a couple of good edge players.” I thought the same in my film review, with Murray showing good explosiveness and looking more comfortable than rookie Sidy Sow in the role, albeit against players further down the depth chart.
- Mac Jones hinted that tomorrow’s session, the last that will be fully open to the media, will be in pads.