5 takeaways from Day 4 of Patriots training camp

One unit struggled during the final practice before the Patriots put on the pads on Monday.

Mac Jones and the Patriots' offense had a rough go of it on Saturday. Mary Schwalm/AP Photo

FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots on Saturday held their fourth and final practice before putting on the pads Monday. While Saturday’s practice was the most-attended yet during training camp, there was a sense that the players are ready to get the pads on soon.

Here are five takeaways from Day 4 of Patriots training camp.

The offense looked lethargic.

Patriots fans packed the practice field outside Gillette Stadium, so much that the ramp along the outside of the stadium had to be open up for the overflow. Unlike the first few days, though, the offense didn’t give the surplus number of fans much to cheer for.

In the first 7-on-7 session, Mac Jones overshot tight end Jonnu Smith in the end zone. On the final play of the session, tight end Hunter Henry dropped a pass from Jones on a seam route.


After completing just half his passes in the first 7-on-7 session (4-for-8), Jones was better in the second, completing passes to Jakobi Meyers and Kendrick Bourne, among others.

The uninspiring play from the offense, which was in part because of the defense, continued in 11-on-11s, too. Bourne and second-round rookie Tyquan Thornton didn’t record a reception on the 20 pass attempts during in the period, with the former not even getting a target. Unlike the first three days of training camp, the Patriots held their first 11-on-11 session in the middle of the field as opposed to the red zone, which should have benefitted the speedy receivers.

Second-year linebacker Cameron McGrone, who didn’t play in 2021 as he recovered from a torn ACL, recorded a would-be sack when the second-team units went head-to-head. Starting left tackle Trent Brown committed his second false start of camp during the second 11-on-11 session, earning him a penalty lap.

Receiver Kristian Wilkerson had the play of the day for the offense as part of the first 11-on-11 session, catching a deep ball over rookie corner Jack Jones in the end zone. However, he might have gotten away with offensive pass interference on the play.

Jones said he would’ve appreciated the penalty call there.


“I mean, I don’t make those calls. I’m just playing football,” Jones said with a smile.

Terrance Mitchell, Jalen Mills, and Justin Bethel each recorded pass break-ups throughout the day, as well.

“We just came out firing on all cylinders and the defense came out with juice,” Jones said. “[Whenever] the defense made a play, we kind of just fed off that.”

Patriots linebacker Mack Wilson “definitely” felt that practice went well for the defense on Saturday.

“We’re just trying to build that chemistry, that camaraderie amongst each other. When we come out here, we [want to] have fun, compete, and fly around. Overall, we just try to make each other better with how well we perform against one another.”

Of course, no one should be panicking over the fourth practice of the season, especially as it was padless. The offense also looked stellar on Day 1 and outplayed the defense on Day 3.

Mac is on the move.

Jones was busy on his feet Saturday.

Part of that might have been by design. The Patriots have had their second-year quarterback work on rollouts in certain passing drills with receivers during camp as the team appears to be trying to work a bit quicker on offense.

But a good amount of Jones’s movement on Saturday definitely wasn’t by design, either.


Jones consistently faced pressure, having to throw on the run or throw the ball away on multiple occasions. There was a play where he ran deep into the backfield for what likely would’ve been in a sack if it were a game during 11-on-11s. In another play during the red zone 11-on-11 session, Jones looked like he was able evade the pressure and run a few years up the field for a touchdown.

Jones ended up going 6-for-12 over the two 11-on-11 sessions on Saturday. His best throws came on a pass to Meyers, who caught a jump ball over second-year corner Shaun Wade in the back corner of the end zone, and a pass to Henry in the opposite corner of the end zone.

However, he threw a pick for the second straight day, which might have been why he didn’t stick around on the field for long once practice ended, like he did for the first three days.

Kyle Dugger gets his revenge.

Henry and Smith headlined Day 3 of training camp with touchdown grabs over Dugger, but the tight ends were silent for much of Saturday.

In fact, Dugger held his ground for much of the day, noticeably making a play in coverage to force an incompletion on a pass to Devin Asiasi during the 7-on-7 period.

On one of the final few plays of the day though during the 11-on-11 period, Henry caught a ball and scored again over Dugger. Unlike Friday, Dugger made it up for it.

Dugger leaped in front of Jones’s pass for an interception and if it were a real game, he likely would’ve run end zone to end zone for a touchdown. The play gave the defense another play to go crazy over while Jones went up to running back/receiver Ty Montgomery to discuss what went wrong as the offensive unit was forced to do pushups.

No Brian Hoyer again, but Bailey Zappe doesn’t impress in extra reps.

The Patriots’ veteran backup quarterback wasn’t in attendance for the second straight day and didn’t throw for the third straight day. That meant the fourth-round rookie Zappe got even more reps on Saturday.


Zappe left a lot to be desired. He went just 3-for-9 during 7-on-7s, with one pass going wide and another pass to Asiasi falling short in the end zone, allowing corner Joejuan Williams to get a pass break-up. Zappe also struggled in 11-on-11s, going 3-for-8.

Overall, Zappe’s first week of training camp hasn’t been too impressive, though Saturday was definitely the most he’s struggled.

Still, the rookie is holding his head high.

“It was good,” Zappe said when asked how he assess his performance on Saturday. “I mean, there’s always stuff to work on and continue to work on. We’re going to continue to stack days here and continue to get better every day.”

Other news and notes.

  • Tre Nixon’s been the annual “non-starting receiver that sticks out the most during training camp” so far. He had three catches on all three targets during 7-on-7s and added another catch during the 11-on-11 period. He’s also been returning kicks and punts throughout camp. He did receive some tape treatment on his heel at one point on Saturday. He remained in practice though. Nixon’s been impressive since OTA practices in the spring and the second-year receiver could be on his way to locking up a spot on the final 53-man roster.
  • In addition to Nixon, Marcus Jones Montgomery, Kyle Dugger returned kicks on Saturday. Rhamondre Stevenson has also returned kicks throughout camp.
  • Undrafted rookie punter Jake Julien has been taking some of the kick-offs.
  • Defensive end Deatrich Wise missed practice for the third straight day. Henry Anderson, who was signed from the Jets in 2021, looked like he got his snaps on the top unit on Saturday.


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