The New England Patriots were back on the practice fields in Henderson, Nevada on Wednesday for their second joint practice session with the Las Vegas Raiders. After an up-and-down day on Tuesday, the Patriots responded well throughout practice.
When asked how Wednesday went, quarterback Mac Jones simply said, “better.” Let’s get into what made it better, based on reports out of Las Vegas.
Absentees: WR Tyquan Thornton, WR Christian Wilkerson, LB Harvey Langi
Limited: CB Shaun Wade
Injuries: WR Nelson Agholor, RB Damien Harris
There were no new absences for the Patriots on Wednesday. However, they saw a trio of starters leave the field. Nelson Agholor was spotted departing after appearing to tweak something. He later returned to the sideline with Isaiah Wynn, who also left practice under his own power earlier.
Damien Harris also went off with a trainer but was seen chatting with Raiders players after practice. With the Vegas heat, there may be no cause for concern, but time will tell.
Two-minute success: For the second straight day, the Patriots offense found its most success on offense in the two-minute drill. In that period, Mac Jones connected with DeVante Parker (screen), Johnny Smith, and Ty Montgomery before Nick Folk connected on a 46-yard field goal. New England ended the day with a two-minute touchdown to Hunter Henry, who also caught a ball for a nice gain up the seam earlier that drive, which drew a celebration from the sideline.
After a shaky offensive start in 11-on-11s, which NBC Sports’ Phil Perry broke down, it was a strong bounce-back with more consistency.
Slow start for the Patriots offense today, but they’ve picked it up.
First series of 11-on-11:
Positive Stevenson run
Short completion to Stevenson
RPO to Meyers for no gain
Max Crosby sack
Completion to Henry
Completion to Montgomery
Incomplete to Agholor
C. Jones sack https://t.co/oSt7AoDy2k
— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) August 24, 2022
The Patriots also found success in their red zone period. Jacoby Meyers had the play of the day — hauling in an over-the-shoulder touchdown in the back of the end zone from Mac Jones. Meyers went on to add a second touchdown later, while Ty Montgomery also added a score to end the period.
Judon and the defense: Matthew Judon continues to wreak havoc on opposing offenses. After his strong practice Tuesday, the Pro Bowler responded with a sack, run stuff, and pass breakup in the Patriots 11-on-11 session. Besides Judon, Josh Uche and Christian Barmore recorded pressures while Carl Davis and Ja’Whaun Bentley had run stops, according to Evan Lazar of Patriots.com.
Mills bounces back: After a rough Tuesday practice against Davante Adams and the Raiders, Jalen Mills bounced back in a big way on Wednesday. In his first rep versus Adams, Mills got revenge with a pass breakup. He then recorded another as well as an incompletion when guarding Keelan Cole and Tyron Johnson. Mark it 3-0 after an 0-3 performance yesterday.
Cornerback competition: While Mills had a strong showing, it was not all great for the cornerbacks behind him battling for roster spots/roles. Myles Bryant struggled to contain Hunter Renfrow going 0-2 against him for the second straight day. In 1-on-1s, Jack Jones, Terrance Mitchell, and Justin Bethel recorded pass breakups. The success did not translate to 11s, as Adams smoked Jones for a touchdown and Mack Hollins beat Mitchell for a score of his own.
Right side report: With Isaiah Wynn spending time with the athletic staff during practice, it was Justin Herron who was called on as a replacement. That’s a change, as Yodney Cajuste had previously been handling right tackle duties in Wynn’s absence. Next to Herron was Michael Onwenu at right guard, who had a strong day. He went 2-0 in his 1-on-1 reps, including a powerful win over Kyle Peko.
- The starting offensive line had some issues containing Chandler Jones and Maxx Crobsy, who are one of the league’s premier pass rushing duos. In total, Las Vegas recorded four sacks in competitive team drills.
- Ty Montgomery continues to be involved in the offense. He hauled in a touchdown on Jayon Brown in 7-on-7s.
- New England’s energy and excitement levels were visibly raised on Wednesday, perhaps the highest they’ve been since perhaps the opening days of camp. Mac Jones specifically was amped up on the sidelines after several completions.
New England will now turn its attention to their preseason finale Friday night against the Raiders.