The New England Patriots were back on the practice field on Friday night for their annual in-stadium practice at Gillette Stadium.
There was a great fan turnout on a night where the team put on the pads and went through the entire pregame process. This practice typically serves as somewhat of a dress rehearsal, but things initially looked to be a bit more amped up in the early-going.
Players split up for a Team Blue vs. Team White matchup. Matt Patricia was calling the offensive plays for Team Blue with Mac Jones at quarterback, while Team White was left to Joe Judge and rookie Bailey Zappe.
It was the final practice of the week with the team slated to be off for the weekend before returning to prepare for Thursday night’s preseason opener against the New York Giants.
Here are five takeaways from the team’s in-stadium practice.
This was a padded jog-through practice
There was a feeling Friday’s practice would turn into a simulated scrimmage with everyone splitting into teams and approaching it as such. But it was actually a padded jog-through practice at the stadium.
It isn’t uncommon considering the Patriots usually conduct such practices without pads on. So things were definitely a bit different this year in that regard.
This was still a valuable practice considering it simulated the exact emotions the team will be going through when they host the New York Giants in the preseason opener.
Tavai sighted on the sidelines
A great sign from the start was Patriots linebacker Jahlani Tavai being spotted on the sidelines after Thursday’s injury scare. It was a lower-leg injury that required help from trainers for him to get off the field.
But he was right back out there on Friday with a compression sleeve on his injured leg and walking with a noticeable limp.
Tavai has been working in with the second-team defense and figures to play a key role on special teams. So the Patriots would hope to have him back sooner rather than later. But the fact that he was on the field walking around is a good sign.
Uche and Herron get sent to the locker room
Just because it was a jog-through practice doesn’t mean it wasn’t getting competitive on the field. A brief dust-up between linebacker Josh Uche and offensive lineman Justin Herron had to be broken up.
It ended in Belichick sending both players back to the locker room.
Herron seemingly didn’t like how hard Uche was going on his pass-rushing reps, and things got heated.
Josh Uche and Justin Herron got into a little skirmish. Uche has been going pretty hard at Herron on his pass rush reps. Looked like Herron had enough. #Patriots
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 6, 2022
It was nothing super serious, obviously. Things are going to get competitive at this time of the year, especially with preseason football right around the corner.
Even before practice, you could tell players were pretty amped up and ready to go.
Hoyer was throwing bombs
Age is nothing but a number for Patriots quarterbacks.
Brian Hoyer went into gunslinger mode at practice with a 60-yard touchdown throw to receiver DeVante Parker and another deep touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne.
Brian Hoyer drops on the in the bucket to Kendrick Bourne on a deep fade, with Bourne taking it to the house.
DeVante Parker met Bourne in the end zone, and the two showed off a pretty complex handshake.
— Alex Barth (@RealAlexBarth) August 6, 2022
Hoyer still obviously has plenty of juice left in the tank as a backup, but the real story here is the possible big-play potential with both Bourne and Parker on the field.
That’s the not-so-secret ingredient the Patriots offense missed last season—the ability to make big plays. The team would love nothing more than seeing those same plays show up on Sundays.
Jennings works in with the top defense
Patriots linebacker Anfernee Jennings is clearly rising up the depth chart, and it was proven with him taking first-team reps in place of the absent Matthew Judon at practice.
Some hastily closed the door on the 2020 third-round draft pick out of the University of Alabama. He struggled during his rookie season and missed all of last season. But he is showing up in a big way on the practice field in his third NFL campaign.
#Patriots practice wrapping up. A good assessment of the roster heading into the first week of the preseason. Couple things:
– Anfernee Jennings 📈
– Right guard doesn’t feel settled yet
– Ty Montgomery a big factor on O
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) August 6, 2022
His stock is definitely on the rise, and it’ll be interesting to see how he performs in the preseason.