Monday night was the ceremony for Kevin Faulk’s induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame, as well as the annual closed practice held for season ticket holders and I was lucky enough to be in attendance. The ceremony was great. We got to hear Bill Belichick and Tom Brady speak about just what Kevin Faulk meant to this team in his time here. Faulk himself spoke for a while and detailed his journey to this great honor. It was a really fun ceremony and a great dive into Patriots history.
As for the practice, the team was in full pads on Saturday and Sunday, so they were back in shells for Monday’s session. Without full contact most of the practice focused on the passing game, as a result most of my observations will be focused on the offensive side of the ball.
- The Patriots need to add a veteran QB behind Jimmy G
Jacoby Brissett was awful last night. He holds the ball too long, which is not uncommon for a rookie. He has the tools to be an effective passer in the NFL, but I am not confident that he could hold down the fort if Jimmy were to get hurt in the first four weeks.
- If he is protected Jimmy will be fine
Jimmy can sling it and he reads the field pretty well too, that much is obvious in practice. He holds the ball a bit too long at times, but if the offensive line can protect him he should be effective in his stint as the starter.
- Martellus Bennett is bigger than Gronk
I never thought I would see a tight end that is both taller and weighs more than Gronk, but Martellus Bennett makes the cut. He is just a bit taller even though they are both listed at 6’6 but he has 10 pounds on Gronk. These two are going to be a lot of fun to watch.
- Mixed results from young receivers
Malcolm Mitchell is listed at 6’1 but looks longer than that when he runs and when he stretches for the ball. He has the perfect build to fill the role played by Brandon Lafell. Chris harper who flashed during camp last year, but made a huge mistake in the regular season game against Denver which cost the team home field advantage, still sucks. Harper tries to catch the ball with his pads too often and it resulted in a pick six for Devin McCourty after Logan Ryan was able to tip the ball. Another camp, another strong showing for Aaron Dobson. Dobson has the most natural talent of any receiver Bill has ever drafted, but he can never put it together consistently. Hopefully this is the year he figures it out because this is his last chance.
- Offense struggles in the red zone
Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan need to get healthy quick. The offense struggled mightily in red zone drills with the exception of one Rob Gronkowski TD (he had another where it looked like he was out of bounds). The team desperately needs the receivers healthy for more viable options inside the 20s.
- All veterans in the pass rush rotation
The pass rush rotation consisted of Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Chris Long, and Shea McClellin, with Don’t’a Hightower at times. This makes sense but I thought Trey Flowers and Geno Grissom would at least see some reps.
- Tons of three safety sets
It feels like the Patriots played almost exclusively with three safeties on the field last year. They did this because they lacked a consistent nickel corner. They drafted Cyrus Jones this year, but still spent the majority of the night in three safety sets, and even when they brought on a third corner it was usually Justin Coleman. This is something I’ll be watching the rest of camp.