Patriots training camp continued on Thursday as Bill Belichick’s team began working in what the coach labels “situational football.”
“We’re working into our second week here,” Belichick said before practice, “starting to add in some situational football, so that’ll continue to be a part of what we do here over the next two-to-three weeks.”
Goal-line defense appeared to be a focus at different points of the day. The Patriots defense once again appeared to hold the upper hand.
Here are a few other observations from Day 7:
The rookie receivers had some impressive catches.
After a series of drops on Wednesday, wide receiver N’Keal Harry flashed his potential on Thursday. He caught one touchdown on a quality throw from fellow rookie Jarrett Stidham in the corner of the end zone, and scored again on a diving catch from Brian Hoyer.
Along with Harry, undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers made a few flashy plays of his own. Meyers has arguably had a stronger camp than Harry, and shows no signs of slowing down, getting some reps with the first team offense. On a pass from Stidham, Meyers tipped the ball to himself for a touchdown.
“He’s made some really competitive catches,” Devin McCourty said of Meyers. The veteran defensive back has been impressed with all of the rookie receivers, which is a group that includes Gunner Olszewski.
“Those guys are working their butts off. They’ve gotten a lot of reps out there from the spring, even till now. They’ve just been working.”
“I think that’s a good thing to see about all these young guys, is there ability and their ‘want to,’ to come out here and try to out-work everybody,” McCourty continued. “That’s what it takes when you’re a rookie. Forget everything, you’re not going to get most things right. You just have to come out here and play hard and try to out-work everybody.”
Dante Scarnecchia is still running.
The Patriots committed multiple mistakes in drills during practice, sending the team on a total of two laps around the field. The first occurred because offensive linemen jumped offsides. The second was due to a fumbled handoff between Tom Brady and Sony Michel.
Patriots fans cheered, however, possibly because 71-year-old offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia was among those leading the team around the field.
“It’s such a blessing to work with Scar,” center David Andrews told reporters after practice. “It’s tough, very tough.”
“It’s his job to hold us accountable,” Andrews said. “He tries to set the tone, and then we hold each other accountable.”
Scarnecchia’s commitment to running with the team has been noted before, but his continuing effort is a testament to his longevity as a Patriots coach.
The Patriots defense got to play offense.
The Patriots ran an unusual drill near the end of practice, as the defense played offense and the offense played defense. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore lined up at quarterback, and fellow cornerback Jonathan Jones ran the first play in for a touchdown on a jet-sweep.
“We actually had some good plays drawn up,” McCourty joked. “We had a couple of guys that didn’t believe in what we were doing — that’s all I’ll say — that really hurt us as a group. But our first play was a touchdown. You know, Bill makes it hard.”
Gilmore has some history at quarterback. He was described as a “cheat code” at the position during his school years, and completed two passes to Alshon Jeffery while the two were at South Carolina.
- Tight end Matt LaCosse had an up-and-down day, making a nice catch over the middle on a pass from Brady in the 11-on-11 session. It wasn’t all good news for LaCosse though, as he made multiple drops in team drills.
- Harry and linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley engaged in a brief scuffle (the first one of the 2019 training camp) after the rookie receiver finished a block of second year linebacker with particular zeal. Bentley took issue with the play and let Harry know, though the incident lasted for just a moment.
- Play of the day: Has to be Meyers’s touchdown catch from Stidham in which he tipped the ball to himself over the Cover-2 coverage of Keion Crossen and Patrick Chung.