Lazar’s Notebook: Patriots Offensive Changes Remains Like Mac Jones, Tre Nixon Keep Shining
FOXBORO, MA – The Patriots held the second day of their official minicamp at the stadium behind Gillette Stadium in a two-hour session Wednesday afternoon.
The Patriots started with fitness, a full 7-on-7 run, an 11-on-11 run with the first team against the second team, as well as special long-term teams before completing most exercises.
After several changes on the first day, the most exciting thing about Wednesday’s episode was that things were the same on both sides of the ball.
The Patriots trial continued to make way for the outside world with Trent Brown on the left and right on the right, while second-year receiver Tre Nixon had another well-known day.
We have named the ugly New England plot to change Shanahan-Style changes in the past, but we may need to change this to suit the McVay-Esque style and design. Shanahan, like former sponsor Josh McDaniels, use the back. The belief here is that the Pats will run four plots from 11 employees (3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB) and 12 groups of people (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) instead of the two back teams.
Defensively, New England looks the same in order, with almost every corner having the opportunity to play in the corner. Contrary to many mistakes, the Patriots’ defense doesn’t seem to go through a major overhaul.
Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne returned to training after missing Tuesday’s session. Nick Folk, Quinn Nordin, Carl Davis, Byron Cowart, Andrew Stueber, and Chasen Hines were not seen. Rookie corner Marcus Jones was still in a red knit jersey. James White, Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Henry, and David Andrews were a minority.
Here are nine vessels from the long second day at the Patriots minicamp Wednesday:
1. Pats QB Mac Jones Quits More Dimes But Ends And Expels
In a team test, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones was back in action, finishing 19-of-24 and removing Kendrick Bourne’s hands. Jones was a little late and had no intention of throwing at Bourne but probably had all the power. Mac continues to throw deep punches at Tre Nixon, Jonnu Smith, and Nelson Aghlor for a solid defense. His touch and accuracy on his deep ball have been well known throughout the spring. Along with the lower dimes, Mac comes out of his shell every day and celebrates after the big game and discusses the wrongs with his teammates. Jones’ leadership and bottom line are real actions. She looks great.
2. Pats WR Tre Nixon Continues Light in Spring Activities
Patriots second-year receiver Tre Nixon’s excellent spring went on and on with one hand on a deep cross with Jon Jones hiding tightly. Jones appeared to hit Nixon’s left arm, leaving Nixon with one hand to catch, and Pats wideout defended it against his body to play that day. He also ran away from Shaun Wade on a crosser in the 7s (Wade has been struggling in the division) and caught another ball between Jones. What distinguishes Nixon from Austin Carr and Riley McCarron’s of Patriots lore? The biggest challenge to Nixon’s handling against the Pats’ top corner. If Nixon were doing this as a top 100, we would have deserved his red jacket. Nixon also played gymnastics these days, which is well known because they would need to take part in the push-ups to form a team of 53 men.
3. Busy Day Pats Rookie CB Jack Jones Again
While Jones is having a “welcome in the NFL” season this spring, it’s hard to ignore the amount of reps he is getting with open competition around the corner. Wednesday, the rookie Pats had a good fight with Nelson Agholor, with Aghlor hitting him on the right ball and fleeing Jones on the road to dig. But Jones had a slight memory, coming back to break Aghlor’s late pass. Jones is still changing the pace of the NFL receiver and can see things early in a way he has never had with pro wideouts (Agholor hit him well on the line to the ball). However, Jones competes in hiding and jumps back and forth between the scout team and the first team defense. Instead, he was in a state of shock, which is what happens next.
4. Pats Inside Linebacker Rotation Initial Signal of Questions
If there is one section of the deep chart that has not been established yet, it is on the linebacker, with the Patriots waiting to upgrade Cameron McGrone for the fifth time in 2021, at the moment. Ja’Whaun Bentley and Mack Wilson are at the top of the tandem right now, with Ronnie Perkins, Raekwon McMillan, and Jahlani Tavai in the mix. It’s almost there, so expect McGrone to shoot at the end. But we have not seen it yet. Josh Uche and Anferenee Jennings are getting reps at the EDGE rusher. This group is in dire need of a young linebacker to look like a player, or they may need to make a phone call to Dont’a Hightower.
5. Pats Rookie RBs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris Get Running
Rookie running backs had a big impact as they slowly started until spring for Strong in particular. Strong has explosive weapons on display as he hurries off Devin McCourty from the back of the 7s. Strong was restoring the game during special teams, an impressive episode of running with 4.37-speed. As for Harris, his size and strength, even in the seamless segment, are immediately apparent. Harris is also holding more trips as a way to count than expected. Although it is difficult to test running games without pads, all of these players already have them.
6. Pats Rookie WR Tyquan Thornton Shows Run With Go Ball
A 5-foot-8 slot with a 4.62-second speed versus 6-foot-2, 4.28-second burner is not a good fight for Myles Bryant. But Tyquan Thornton ran past Bryant early 7-on-7 to catch a deep ball from Brian Hoyer. It still sounds like Thornton is one year older than he is, but he can fly, which makes it another chance under defense. As much as we all want to see Thornton explode, taking a step back and developing it is the best way his body and its value are here.
7. Pats TE Jonnu Smith Makes a High-Reel Appearance
Another player who progresses slowly in the spring is the end of Jonnu Smith. Smith once again had all that wrong with his excitement as he lifted up Kyle Dugger to the top ball from Mac Jones on the corner. It was the second straight day when Jonnu went over the kidney to catch the back of the Pats (Adrian Phillips yesterday). It starts to feel like Smith’s troubles last year were more psychological than physical, so there is hope he can end his second year with the Patriots.
8. Switch Gunner: Kickoff and Punt Returners Wednesday
A cheap battle to shine all summer long is how the Patriots bring in Gunner Olszewski back to All-Pro. Here’s how it looks so far in the minicamp:
Punches – Tre Nixon, Jack Jones, Kendrick Bourne, Malcolm Perry
The Kickoffs – Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong
Note: The man returning to Rookie Marcus Jones remains a minor due to seasonal surgery.
9. Bill Belichick Interviews Utah State DC Ephraim Band During Exercise
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spent the rest of the day talking to Utah State defender Ephraim Banda. Obviously, we don’t know what he was talking about, but it looked like the whole ball. The Aggies won the Mountain West Championship last season after switching forward (4-3) to open their linebackers. That is one of the points Belichick and Banda were discussing.