Once again, the New England Patriots hit the training grounds on Thursday — and each other. The team, after all, returned to a full-pad setup after spending Wednesday’s practice in shells and shorts.
Needless to say, the intensity has increased, and so has the competition. Here are a few players who caught our eye for better or worse.
Winner: LB Josh Uche. Uche had a relatively quiet start to training camp, but the former second-round pick has recently started to come into his own. He was at his best on Thursday, winning all three of his games 1-on-1: Uche beat offensive tackle Yodny Cadresse twice and also managed to pass Yasir Durant. He also saw rookie-level reps on defense with fellow outside linebacker Matthew Judon absent.
Winner: C David Andrews. The Patriots starting center isn’t just increasing his workload after opening training camp on the physically unable to perform roster, he also had some pretty good times on Thursday. These included 1-on-1 wins over defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Daniel Ekuale.
Winner: OT Justin Herron. Replacement right tackle Justin Herron has had its ups and downs so far in training camp, but Thursday definitely falls into the first of those categories. He looked good throughout the day, with a clear 1v1 win over Ronnie Perkins as his standout moment.
Winner: WR Tre Nixon. The Patriots offense scored just one touchdown in its final 11-on-11 period in the red zone. That touchdown came courtesy of sophomore receiver Tre Nixon who swung away from Malcolm Butler and caught a Mac Jones near the back of the end zone. It was one of four catches Nixon had during teamwork; he also looked improved in 1 vs 1.
Winner: DT of this Godchaux. The recently extended defensive tackle continues to show why the Patriots were comfortable investing in him. Godchaux recorded several tackles for loss and contributed to two drunken runs in the final period at 11-for-11; the first was a co-production with Lawrence Guy, the second overwhelming…
Loser: OL James Ferentz. Ferentz is still the number two center behind David Andrews, but he had a tough day on Wednesday. Not only did he allow Godchaux to help control the line of scrimmage on several occasions, but he didn’t stand a chance against Christian Barmore and Daniel Ekuale 1v1. He was also called for a timeout, but only by members of the media watching the session.
Loser: CB Malcolm Butler. Malcolm Butler returned to training after missing Wednesday’s session but had yet another dull day. He was beaten by Nixon on the aforementioned touchdown and generally gave his assignments some space to perform fairly consistently.
Loser: LB Ronnie Perkins. Sophomore linebacker Ronnie Perkins continues his inconsistent campaign this summer. Thursday was one of his worst days, with him losing 1-on-1 to Isaiah Wynn and Justin Herron and also not looking entirely comfortable during teamwork. At this point, Perkins projects as a depth option.
Other players worth mentioning include rookies Cole Strange, DaMarcus Mitchell and LyBryan Ray. Strange showed some improvement during the 1v1; Mitchell landed a potential sack in teamwork; Ray may have caused problems for Trent Brown.
The three youngsters and the rest of the team will be back at work on Friday. This session, however, will take place inside Gillette Stadium rather than the training grounds.