Friday, August 19, 2022

Patriots training camp observations: DeVante Parker impresses, Matt Patricia calling plays among Day 1 notes

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — School is back in session. After veterans officially reported the day prior, the New England Patriots hit the practice field for their first day of training camp Wednesday. It truly was an ideal day to be reintroduced to football as the hot weather beamed down onto the turf and the fans in attendance brought an appetizer of what kind of buzz the club will receive once the regular season gets rolling. 

Naturally, given that it’s the first day of camp and pads haven’t even been strapped on yet, the introductory nuggets should be taken with a grain of salt, but there were plenty of notable developments to chew on with camp now underway. Below, you’ll find some of the biggest highlights from Day 1. 

Trent Brown holds onto left tackle spot

As was the case back during the team’s minicamp sessions, Trent Brown maintained his position at left tackle when the Patriots opened up training camp. When asked about the move back to blindside tackle, Brown said it was “feeling like home.” 

Of course, the 6-foo-8, 380-pounder started at left tackle throughout his first stint with the Patriots back during their Super Bowl LIII title run during the 2018 season. In those 19 games (including playoffs), Brown allowed 39 pressures and just three sacks. However, following the Week 11 bye and through Super Bowl LIII, he allowed 15 pressures and zero sacks, so there is a ceiling of high play from him at this position.  

With Brown slotted in at left tackle to begin camp, 2018 first-round pick Isaiah Wynn manned the right tackle spot.

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DeVante Parker makes presence felt

DeVante Parker, who was acquired by the Patriots this offseason in a trade with the Dolphins, didn’t waste much time showcasing his ability. The 29-year-old receiver used his big frame to bully opposing cornerbacks throughout the day’s practice and displayed a quick rapport with Mac Jones, as the two connected on multiple touchdowns. After one of those contested touchdown receptions during red zone drills, Parker even gestured to the fans in attendance, firing up the crowd.  

If Parker can continue to utilize his body to box out defensive backs and make the type of contested receptions he showed Wednesday, he could be in line for some quality targets by Jones in the red area. 

Terrance Mitchell gets first crack at outside corner

One of the storylines worth keeping an eye on coming into camp will be how the outside corner position will sort itself out following the departure of J.C. Jackson in free agency. As expected, Jalen Mills manned one of the starting spots, but it was noteworthy that veteran Terrance Mitchell was the first man up to start opposite of him. It’s possible — if not likely — that New England will rotate that spot throughout camp with rookie Jack Jones, Malcolm Butler, and others getting a crack at the job as well. If Day 1 is any indication, however, it would seem like Mitchell has in the inside track to start.

Who called the offensive plays?

Offensive play-calling duties have been a point of focus in New England ever since Josh McDaniels accepted the Raiders head coaching gig. By the looks of it, senior football advisor Matt Patricia holds that responsibility (or at least he did to begin camp). Patricia, armed with a walkie-talkie, was seemingly calling plays during the offense’s competitive sessions and was also seen inside the huddle during drills as well. He also spent some time with the offensive line. 

Meanwhile, offensive assistant Joe Judge was working with the quarterbacks at the start of practice as players warmed up,  and he largely stayed with that positional group throughout the session, albeit with some work with the pass-catchers as well. 

While Patricia was the apparent play-caller and Judge had his hands over the quarterbacks, it was also interesting to see Bill Belichick leaning more heavily towards the offense on Day 1. He was more hands-on with that side of the ball out of the gate. 

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