6 takeaways from Day 3 of Patriots training camp

A player looking to have a bounce-back season stood out on Friday.

Jonnu Smith was arguably the star of the third day of Patriots training camp. AP Photo/Steven Senne

FOXBOROUGH – Day 3 of Patriots training camp is in the books. There were still no pads yet at practice, but there were some standout moments during the third day.

Here are six takeaways from Friday’s practice, the penultimate practice before the Patriots move to pads.

The tight ends showed out.

Entering the 2021 season, much was made about the fact that the Patriots would have not one, but two tight ends to significantly help the passing game for the first time since Rob Gronkowski retired following the 2018 season.

Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith signed big-money deals. However, only Henry made much of an impact (he had nine receiving touchdowns) while Smith only had 28 receptions for 294 yards and a touchdown, a career-low.


Smith showed signs at Friday’s practice that his struggles from 2021 could be a thing of the past. In 7-on-7s, Smith arguably made the play of the day when he caught a touchdown pass from Mac Jones over third-year safety Kyle Dugger in the back of the end zone. Smith spiked the ball as the crowd gave an ovation for his catch, which earned him a penalty lap.

When Smith came back, he caught another touchdown, creating separation off Dugger for the score. Later in the session, Bailey Zappe tried to find him in the back corner of the end zone, but his pass fell short, ending up in the hands of safety Adrian Phillips.

Smith added another catch on one target during the 11-on-11s. Speaking to reporters following practice, Smith made it clear that he’s moving on from 2021.

“I love football. I got here by just loving football, loving my teammates, loving the guys around me. All that stuff just comes with it,” Smith said when asked if his contract (worth $50 million over four seasons) adds any pressure coming into this season. “We didn’t grow up playing in our backyards thinking about contracts. We just played because we love the game. I think the reason why so many of us in this game have had success is because we worry about just playing the game and playing it with love. Everything else will take care of itself.”


Smith also joked about his catches against Dugger.

“I don’t know,” Smith said laughing when asked if his relationship with Dugger “would ever recover” after what he did on Friday. “Me and Dugger, we battle a lot. He’s a hell of a competitor, man.”

As for Henry, he caught a pass from Zappe in the back of the end zone during 7-on-7s. However, he collided with receiver Kristian Wilkerson, leaving Henry on the ground for a few moments. Henry got back up though and caught a jump ball pass from Jones on a fade in the end zone during 11-on-11s.

The situation at corner became a bit clearer.

Just like the first two days, both Jalen Mills and Terrance Mitchell were got first-team reps at corner.

Mitchell doesn’t appear fully confident yet that he’s secured the top outside corner spot.

“I wouldn’t say that just yet. It’s only [Day 3]. Nothing’s been done yet, a lot of work has to be proven still. We’re just out here working. I’m just grateful and happy.”

Second-year safety Joshuah Bledsoe, who was a standout in the first two days of camp with multiple passes broken up, split first-team reps at the nickel spot with rookie Marcus Jones.

Jones was conversing a lot with safety Devin McCourty on Friday, noting he was seeking his veteran guidance to help get acclimated into a “faster” NFL.


“Just trust the system,” Jones said on the advice he’s gotten from McCourty. “Everyone’s system is different. So when you come into a new system, you’ve got to learn what to do, how to do it, and everything like that.”

Bill Belichick relayed plays to quarterbacks during 11-on-11s.

We know by now that Belichick, offensive lines coach Matt Patricia, and quarterbacks coach Joe Judge will heavily dictate how the Patriots’ offense goes. It appeared that the situation was a bit clearer following the first two practices, in which Patricia appeared to call in plays via walkie-talkie.

But Belichick spoke with Jones and Zappe between snaps during the final 11-on-11 session on Friday, presumably giving them a play call, while the rest of the unit huddled. In between his stints during the final 11-on-11 session, Jones seemed to have a lengthy chat with Patricia.

Kendrick Bourne has been quiet in the first few practices while Mac Jones develops connections with other receivers.

Bourne was widely viewed as one of the best signings in the NFL last season, catching 55 passes for 800 yards and five touchdowns. While he and several others expect even more in 2022, Bourne hasn’t gotten off to the best start in training camp.

Bourne struggled a bit on Friday, dropping an easy pass during a quarterback/receiver drill with Jones throwing him a fade into the end zone. Bourne registered just one target during 11-on-11s, too, with Mills out muscling Jones’s pass to him in the back corner of the end zone. Through the first few practices, Bourne’s only registered a reception on three targets (by my count) in 11-on-11s.

As for Jones, he completed 8-of-11 passes during Friday’s 11-on-11. Davon Godchaux batted one of his passes at the line and an appeared miscommunication between Jones and Jakobi Meyers led straight to a Mills pick.


Jones completed his final six passes of the day, hitting Henry and DeVante Parker on jump ball fades in the end zone for two of those passes.

Praise continued for Mac Jones.

The second season for a quarterback is usually viewed as one in which they should grow not just as a player, but as a leader, too. Jones’s teammates have complimented his leadership skills a lot through camp so far and it continued Friday.

Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, who was Jones’s top target in 2021, shared how Jones regularly got the receivers together during the offseason and complimented the quarterback’s mobility.

“The offseason is definitely a big part [of getting better],” Meyers said. “A lot of guys kind of lose their rhythm. I think Mac did a great job of pushing us to get together and throwing as much as we can and calling us and checking up on us to make sure we were good. We made sure to keep that rhythm intact.

“As far as him moving around, Mac’s a little faster than people think. He can get out and put pressure on defenses.”

Running back Damien Harris, who has been friends with Jones since the two played at Alabama together, shared why he thinks Jones is an effective leader.

“Mac is just an infectious guy that everybody gravitates towards,” Harris said. “He’s a great leader. He’s a great football player. He’s an incredibly hard worker and he’s an even better friend. Whenever you take all of those attributes and put them into one person, it’s easy to see why so many people gravitate towards him and why so many people want to be around him and want to follow him.”

Two starters returned while a notable player was absent.

Starting center David Andrews participated in Friday’s practice, his first of the summer. He began training camp on the PUP list due to a shoulder injury. Punter Jake Bailey also participated in his first practice of camp after getting placed on the non-football illness list prior to it.


Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer was absent, however, after not throwing in team drills on Thursday. That allowed Zappe to have more time with the second unit. He threw a nice touchdown pass to Ty Montgomery but threw a pick to Justin Bethel as well, going 5-for-7 during the 11-on-11 period.


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