Lazar’s diary: The Patriots’ offensive changes remain like Mac Jones, Trey Nixon continues to shine

Foxboro, MA – The Patriots held the second day of their mandatory mini camp at the training grounds behind Gillette Stadium for a two-hour session Wednesday afternoon.

The Patriots started with spot drills, full speed 7 on 7, round 11 on 11 with the first team versus the second team, and an extended special teams period before ending training with more group drills.

After so many changes came out on day one, the highlight of the Wednesday session was that things stayed the same on both sides of the ball.

The Patriots’ offensive continued to dig into the outer zone charts with Trent Brown on the left tackle and Isaiah Wayne as the right tackle, while sophomore wide receiver Tre Nixon had another special day.

We’ve called New England’s offensive scheme shift to a Shanahan-style twist in the past, but we may need to tweak that into more McVay-Esque lineups and schemes. Shanahan, like former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, uses the quarterback. The belief here is that Pats will run the plots of a region of 11 individuals (3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB) and 12 individuals formations (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) rather than two groups from behind.

Defensively, New England looks about the same schematically, with the opportunity to play outside the corner in nearly every corner on the list. Unlike the attack, the Patriots’ defense doesn’t appear to be going through an overhaul of the system.

Kendrick Bourne, the Patriots wide player, is back in training after missing Tuesday’s session. Nick Falk, Quinn Norden, Carl Davis, Byron Cowart, Andrew Stoeber and Chasin Hines have not been spotted. Rookie cornerback Marcus Jones was still wearing a red disconnected jersey. James White, Jacoby Myers, Hunter Henry and David Andrews were limited.

Here are nine takeaways from Long Day Two at the Patriots Mini Camp on Wednesday:

1. Bates QB McJones drops more dimes but ends up in an objection

During the team’s practice, Patriots quarterback McJones was sharp again, finishing 19 of 24 with an interception from the hands of Kendrick Bourne. Jones was a bit behind and was off target on Bourne’s pitch but other than that he was in complete control. Mac continues to make high-profile deep throws for Tre Nixon, Jonnu Smith and Nelson Agholor in tight coverage. His touch and subtlety popped into his deep ball all spring. Along with the dimes, Mac comes out of his shell more every day by partying after big plays and talking about mistakes with his teammates. Jones’ drive and field accuracy are the real deal. It looks great.

2. Bates W.R. Trey Nixon continues to shine in spring practice

Tre Nixon’s excellent Year Two Patriots spring with a one-hand hold on a deep cross continued with Jon Jones in tight coverage. Jones seemed to attach to Nixon’s left arm, leaving Nixon with one hand to hunt, and Bates wide secured it to his body for today’s play. He also dodged Shaun Wade on cross at 7secs (Wade struggled in the hole) and grabbed another over the middle against Jones. What distinguishes Nixon from Austin Carr and Riley McCarron from the Patriots tradition? The high level of difficulty Nixon scored against Bates’ top hole angle. If Nixon were doing this as a top 100 pick, we’d actually be fitting him to his red jacket. Nixon also used kicks during the day’s practice, which is notable because he would likely need to get a turn in the kicking game to build a 53-man roster.

3. Busy day for CB Bates rookie Jack Jones again

Although Jones is having some “Welcome to the NFL” moments this spring, it’s hard to ignore the number of reps who have had a wide open competition for the quarterback. On Wednesday, the rookie Bates had some good fights with Nelson Agulure, with Agulur beating him to the go ball down the right sideline and escaping Jones in the pits way. But Jones had a short memory, returning to break a pass to Agulor late in practice. Jones is still adapting to the speed of the NFL receiver and may see things early on in the way he’s never seen before from accurate professional widescreens (Agholor beat him clean in the line on the go). Jones is still competitive in coverage and switches back and forth between team scouts and first team defense. At least, he’s in the mix, which is a standout for a spring camp novice.

4. Bates inside the full-back rotation an early question mark

If there’s one area of ​​the depth chart that’s still not very stable, it’s at linebacker, with the Patriots trailing off an interesting 2021 fifth-placed Cameron McGron, at least for now. Ja’Whun Bentley and Mack Wilson are the best tandems at the moment, with Ronnie Perkins, Raekwon McMillan and Jahlani Tavai in the mix. It’s early days, so expect McGrone to finally get his shot. But we haven’t seen her yet. Josh Uchi and Inverine Jennings get cast in EDGE rusher. This group desperately needs a young quarterback to emerge as an influential player, or they may need to make a call to Dont’a Hightower.

5. Bates Rookie RBs Pierre Strong and Kevin Harris get some running

Plenty of touches were made to my novice running back after a slower start to the spring for Strong in particular. Strong has an explosive gear that was on full display when he broke up with Devin McCurty in a quick 7-second run off the field. Strong was also replaying his start during the special teams periods, an intriguing turn for a back-to-back at 4.37. As for Harris, his size and strength, even in an unpadded session, stand out immediately. Harris is also getting more passes as an audit option than expected. Although it’s a moot point for evaluating a platformer running game, both rookies are already involved.

6. Bates Rookie WR Tyquan Thornton Shows Off Speed ​​With Go Ball

The 5-foot-8 hole angle in 4.62 seconds versus 6-foot-2 4.28 seconds isn’t a fair fight for Miles Bryant. But Tyquan Thornton passed Bryant early 7-7 to catch a deep ball from Brian Hoyer. Thornton still appears to be a year away from his physical development, but he is able to fly, creating some opportunities under defense. As much as we’d all like to see Thornton erupt, slowing him down as he develops is the best option given to where his body and road tree are currently.

7. Pats TE Jonnu Smith makes a Highlight-Reel Catch

Another player making steady progress this spring is Juno Smith. Smith was cheering again when he rose above Kyle Duger to hit a high ball from McJones on a corner road. It was the second day in a row that Juno went over the edge to catch the back of defensive Butts (Adrian Phillips yesterday). It’s starting to feel like Smith’s struggles last year have been more mental than physical, so there’s hope he could be out in a year two with the Patriots.

8. Gunner Replacement: Kickoff and Punt Returners on Wednesday

A sneaky, low-key fight to watch all summer is how the Patriots replace All-Pro returnee Gunner Olszewski. Here’s what it’s like so far in the little camp:

Benz – Trey Nixon, Jack Jones, Kendrick Bourne, Malcolm Perry

Kickoffs – Ty Montgomery, Pierre Strong

Note: Marcus Jones, the returning junior man, is still limited due to off-season shoulder surgeries.

9. Bill Belichick chats with Utah DC Ephraim Banda during training

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spent almost the entirety of training speaking with Utah State defensive coordinator Ephraim Banda. Obviously, we have no idea what they were talking about, but it looks like it was mostly a full ball. The Aggies won the Mountain West Championship last season after moving to an even front (4-3) to unlock linebackers. This is one theory as to what Belichick and Banda were discussing.

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