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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and the NFL:
Macs side: Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in March that quarterback Mac Jones was “respectful of coming in as a rookie” last season and that he felt Jones “has a little more edge than we’ve seen.”
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The Patriots have two weeks left of their offseason program – with a three-day mandatory minicamp scheduled for Tuesday-Thursday this week – and Jones’ increased leadership has caught the attention of his teammates.
“It’s just on a different level now,” recipient Kendrick Bourne told ESPN. “He’s more comfortable, more confident. He knows what’s going on and the muscle memory is there [from having gone through it] – OTAs, then camp and season. He’s just more locked in, more secure in his position. “
As a result, Jones is positioned to become team captain in just his second NFL season. If this is how it unfolds when players vote at the end of training camp, it would put him in rare company and join Jerod Mayo and Devin McCourty as the only other Patriots to achieve a second year of leadership in Bill Belichicks 23 -year term of office as principal adviser.
“He connects really well with all the players. I’m proud of that guy because it’s not easy,” said Bourne, who was among the visitors to Jones’ house at a hibachi party during the first night of the NFL Draft. “When he enters his second year after having such a year, he will be a challenge, but he’s a guy who likes challenges, just like the rest of us in that Patriot building.”
Jones’ increased level of comfort has shown in practice when he demonstrates to his passers-by what he is looking for on their routes. At one point Tuesday, he split wide and ran a route while broadband receivers watched intently.
Highlight a top observation from the Patriots ‘practice: Mac Jones’ growing level of comfort with WRs to express what he’s looking for routinely.
This video from Tuesday, after DeVante Parker took a rep, shows an example.
Rolling the road, instead of a sharp cut, was the weight. pic.twitter.com/miHqn728bH
—Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) June 1, 2022
“He’s a young guy, but he’s developed as a leader. That’s what this team needs,” said receiver DeVante Parker, now in his eighth NFL season and first in New England after being acquired in a trade from Miami. “I’ve only been here a few weeks, but I still see it.”
Added veteran cornerback Malcolm Butler: “He has a lot of energy on and off the field. His confidence, his scammers – I love him.”
Balance sheet action: Starting safety Adrian Phillips arrived in town last week to attend the final few weeks of the team’s offseason program. He said he felt it was the right thing to do, even though it was not easy leaving his wife, Camille, and their 8-month-old son, Dylan, back in Texas. Camille, who is a doctor, has a demanding job.
“I was at home as a father and homemaker,” Phillips said. “I’m sorry I’m away from him for a long time because this time is so crucial. But I FaceTime with him every day and make sure he does not forget my face.”
Post-McDaniels era: How has the transition been without Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator? He spent time with Bourne last week at the 47th annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts Golf Classic. a player’s perspective.
“It’s been dope so far. Joe Judge, our newest member [of the staff], he’s doing a good job, “Bourne said.” Really just new terminology, new words. Football is football, so it’s just about learning the new words, and getting the old words out. And that’s applying my skills to the new system. “
How much the Patriots’ system actually changes – versus how much the staff focuses on experiments – is one of the biggest intrigues around the team.
“I think [Judge is] enable us to succeed. I’m excited so far, “Bourne said, adding that his skills as a rusher (12 carries, 125 yards, 10.4 averages in 2021) have been among the personal highlights.” Hopefully we’ll have a great year. We’ll see how it goes. “
4. CB issues: If there is one attitude that stands out when asking the question “Do the Patriots have enough?” it’s outside the cornerback. Veterans Butler and Terrance Mitchell have been paired there with top returning Jonathan Jones on the pitch. Jalen Mills and Joejuan Williams have been the others who have worked on the outside, with Shaun Wade getting his first job inside. Draft selection in the fourth round, Jack Jones from Arizona State, who has shown some tackiness in the coverage, could also be a factor as he catches up with the more experienced players. “It’s a good group. A lot of competition,” Butler said.
5. Thornton’s arm: If the Patriots’ second round, Tyquan Thornton, has a successful rookie season as a receiver, that could be the key to how he uses his arms to become a more fluid route runner. This is one area he is focusing on this spring as he works to become “1% better every day.”
“Your arms, it’s your bread and butter, to get in and out of your breaks,” said Thornton, who is wearing a Temporary No. 51 in practice, according to Belichick’s annual spring tradition of assigning beginners unconventional numbers as a reminder to them of what should be most important.
6. Asiasis plan: When the second annual “TE University” takes place 22.-24. June in Nashville, Tennessee, third-year Patriots tight-end Devin Asiasi plans to be there. The primary goal of the third round pick in 2020 from UCLA – which has appeared in 10 NFL games while totaling two receptions at 39 yards and a touchdown – is to gain more knowledge from others around the league.
7. Keene’s condition: This is a make-or-break year for tight-end Dalton Keene, the Patriots’ second third round in 2020, whose best hope of staying maybe is as an H-back type, and it does not help that he is has been restricted for the last two weeks after suffering an undisclosed injury during the first OTA training on 23 May. The setback, though seemingly minor, is a reflection of how the Virginia Tech alum has had a series of unfortunate breaks, which include missing the entire last season on IR.
Compulsory camp: This week’s mandatory minicamp numbers should be an extension of the work the Patriots have done in the volunteer offseason program, and so notable storylines will include some of the players returning to the city who have not been nearby – left tackle Isaiah Wynn outside linebacker Matthew Judon and receiver N’Keal Harry among them. Harry, the 2019 election in the first round, is now a long shot to reach the list in his traditional position, apart from injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. Harry’s best chance is perhaps to ask about a possible switch to tight end to compete with Asiasi and Keene as TE3 behind Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith.
9. Ernie in the spotlight: In all his years as the Patriots’ director of football research, Ernie Adams kept a low profile before retiring after the 2020 season. So it was a rare extended interview from Adams on the “Pats From The Past” podcast on Patriots.com with co-hosts Matt Smith and Paul Perillo. What connects Russ Francis and Rob Gronkowski or the 1970s Patriots team to today’s Baltimore Ravens? Few can answer these questions with the authority of Adam, who does so in an enjoyable chat full of rich football history.
10. Did you know that? Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is set to retire after 17 seasons, appeared in 166 games, with 147 starts. The team he started against more than anything else? The Patriots (13), followed by the Jets (12), Dolphins (10) and Colts (10).