Justin Jones blocks against Michael Hoomananwanui (Photo By: Steven Senne)
The Patriots re-signed rookie tight end Justin Jones yesterday, eight days after releasing him.
Jones, is happy about being back with New England, a team in need of tight end depth, and hopes to make his 2nd chance a lasting one.
“It’s one of those things for me that it was kind of my first welcome to the NFL kind of thing. It’s a big business, man,” Jones said. “Coach [Bill] Belichick tells us all the time to expect roster moves at this time of year. Things change a lot. All you can do is try and not be that guy. Hopefully this time around I’m not.”
Jones is a huge tight end, standing 6’8, making him taller than Gronk. He’s constantly trying to catch up to the speed of the NFL.
He also works on being a better blocker.
“Coach told me I was making improvements and stuff like that,” Jones said. “Maybe needed to happen a little bit quicker for him, but, you know it is what it is. I know this is the time of the year where a lot of guys get shuffled around and everything. No one expects to be released, but we just have to put on our hard hat every day and come to work and hope that you can get your job done.”
Dominique Easley (Photo By: Bob Breidenbach//Providence Journal)
The Patriots held their final open practice to the public today and returned a lot of big names to practice.
Gronkpracticed for the first time in 11-on-11 drills and took hits from linebackers and defensive backs. It took Tom Brady one play to go to his tight end. They connected on two passes during that drill. Gronkowski still hasn’t took part in blocking drills.
Dominique Easley showed off impressive speed today as he practiced for the first time. Easley used his speed and spin move to blow by the offensive linemen in one-on-one drills to win all 3 battles.
Jerod Mayo, Michael Hoomanawanui, Bryan Stork, Jeremy Gallon, Jerel Worthy, Kanoris Davis, James Anderson, Ben Bass, and Ja’Gared Davis were all back at practice.
Sebastian Vollmer, Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga, D.J. Williams, Cameron Gordon, and Tyler Gaffney did not practice. Tommy Kelly missed the first one and a half hour of practice before showing up on the field.
Malcolm Butler had a great day again. He stripped the ball from Gronk during 7-on-7s and intercepted a Tom Brady pass intended for Brian Tyms.
James Anderson might be the best cover linebacker for New England, picked off Tom Brady’s pass intended for DannyAmendola during 11-on-11s.
Brandon Brownerhad an interception. Ryan Mallett threw the pass right to him.
The Patriots have played in two preseason games and we have gotten an extended look at the backups and the players trying to make the team. We got a little sneak peak into the starters Friday, so let’s give our stock report.
CB Malcolm Butler: Butler is having one of the best camp and preseason games of any Pats. He earned first string reps after a great game against the Redskins and got the start against the Eagles. He caused two forced fumbles and was excellent in coverage. He’s been so good that even in a crowded secondary, he’s a lock right now to make the roster.
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: After bad practices to start camp, Jimmy G came out against the Redskins and balled out against the 3rd stringers with 3rd stringers, and then Friday night he got action with first stringers and second stringers and balled out again. He’s got great touch on his passes, he’s accurate, and goes through his reads. He’s the backup.
WR Brian Tyms: This guy has been amazing all camp long and has been the best receiver in two preseason games. He has size and great hands with speed to be a real threat for New England. He has the fans behind him all the way and he’s vastly out playing Josh Boyce. Tyms will be suspended for the first four games which actually might help him make the roster because he will not count against the 53 man roster if they keep him. But, regardless, he should make this team.
QB Ryan Mallett: Mallett had a horrible game against the starters and 2nd stringers of the Redskins. He was demoted to 3rd string against the Eagles and had a good game after a okay practice week. Mallett has a big arm but he throws every pass like a 99mph fast ball. Mallett has a long way to go to be the 2nd QB and for any team to look at him as a starter.
CB Logan Ryan: Great instincts and play maker, but his preseason games have not been strong. He’s a good player just having bad starts in preseason. As long as it stays in preseason and doesn’t spill over to the regular season, I don’t mind.
SS: All the strong safeties. So far, they haven’t been able to stop tight ends over the middle of the field. Just like last year. Duron Harmon had a hold on the position, and I still think he does, but the Pats have been experimenting with that position with Logan Ryan and Kyle Arrington. Patrick Chung has been getting more reps. He looks like the same ole Chung though. He hits hard but misses tackles and can’t cover anybody. This battle will go all season and it will impact if New England can cover the middle of the field.
Jimmy Garoppolo under center. (Photo From Patriots.com)
The Patriots defeated the Eagles in a shootout, 42-35 last night at Gillette Stadium.
Tom Brady started the game and was slicing through the defense until newly signed tight end, Steve Maneri ran a bad route and did not turn around quick enough, and Brady’s pass was picked off by Cary Williams and returned for a touchdown. The Eagles were up 7-0 for a hot minute.
Next drive, Brady went up the field with ease, and capped off the drive with a beautiful back shoulder throw to KenbrellThompkins.Edelman, Amendola were Brady’s go to guys, and Thompkins looked good.
Tom Brady finished the night 8 of 10 for 81 yards and one touchdown. Also, he had an interception.
“It’s fun being out there,” Brady said. “Sitting on the sideline like last week isn’t nearly as fun, so getting out there and getting a chance to play a little bit was great. It was a great experience for me, fun to be out there with my teammates, so I enjoyed it.”
Jimmy Garoppolo saw time with the starters and was the 2nd string QB for New England and saw a quarter and a half of play.
He was sharp, he’s winning the backup competition with ease. He started things off moving the Pats up the field and going through reads before hitting two easy check downs to FB/TE James Devlin. The second was for a 15 yard touchdown. Devlin was pretty good at tight end.
The next series, Garoppolo hit Brandon LaFell on a beautiful deep pass up the sideline for a big gain, and then threw a perfect pass to the back of the end zone for Brandon LaFell. Behind Garoppolo, the Pats took a 21-7 lead.
Garoppolofinished 6 of 12 for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
“I felt good going into this game, had a good week of practice,” Garoppolo said. “Going against another team always brings out the competitive spirit in everyone.”
Garoppoloalso said he had no idea he’d be the second QB in until right before he went in.
Ryan Mallett entered the game in the 2nd half, and scored quickly after a turnover by the Eagles. He ran in for a 6 yard touchdown and later on he would hit Brian Tyms for a 17 yard touchdown.
Mallett was 7 of 11 for 92 yards and a touchdown.
“If you get to play in the game, that’s all that matters,” Mallett said. “I just want to go out there and try to get better as a player, and I felt I did tonight. I’ve just got to keep building on it.”
Brian Tyms had another impressive night, and when he scored, he did the ole Randy Moss celebration. Moss is a guy Tyms model his game after.
Brandon LaFell looks like he could really be a red zone threat for Tom Brady. His hands looked great last night.
Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen looked great, but James White has yet to live up to practice hype.
Malcolm Butler was the best defensive player last night. He earned first team reps and balled out.
On the Eagles very first play, Foles hit his WR and Butler quickly hit the receiver with Hightower and the ball popped out and was recovered by Tommy Kelly.
On the second series, the secondary caused Folesto hold onto the ball for too long and Foles was sacked by Ninkovich.
Eagles tried to throw Butler’s way, but most of the time, Butler won the battles. He’s having a great preseason.
The Patriots weakest position is strong safety. Kyle Arrington had reps there along with Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon. All struggled, and none could cover the middle of the field. Like last year.
Overall, the starting defense looked good. They looked solid.
The Patriots have a bit of a situation at tight end behind Gronk for the 2nd year in a row.
Last year, they were unprepared, but this year, they knew they needed a 2nd guy, but we saw free agency, and draft come and go with no big tight end signed.
Now, heading into the 2nd preseason game, no tight end has emerged as a clear number two guy. To make it worse, half of the tight ends have been out of practice for a week and won’t play tonight.
We haven’t seen Michael Hoomanawanui or D.J. Williams in a while and neither will play tonight. The only two tight ends available for tonight’s game is Steve Maneri, and James Devlin, a FB whose has been taking snaps at tight end.
I doubt either one is the team’s number 2 guy behind Gronk, but they will certainly have plenty of chances to prove themselves tonight.
So, who will the Pats turn to if something happens to Gronk, or when they need a 2nd tight end to catch some passes?
Well, they don’t need a 2nd tight end to catch a lot of passes if Gronk is healthy, so Hoomanawanui, the guy with more experience with New England will be either the number two tight end or the number three tight end. Either way, he will be on the team and see plenty of playing time, mostly as a blocking tight end.
He’s a great blocker and decent pass-catcher, but like we saw last year, he’s not going to boost the tight end position if Gronk goes down.
D.J. Williams is my Darkhorse guy to be the number two tight end.
He’s been having a pretty good camp before the injury that’s sideline him and he’s a good pass-catcher. He’s probably the 2nd best pass-catching tight end on the team behind Gronk. I hope to see him in one preseason game to see exactly what he can do, but I’m betting on him.
When New England wants to run a two tight end formation, Williams will probably be the guy, and if they need someone to step up in Gronk’s place, it’ll be Williams. But, I’ve been wrong before.
I’ve read scouting reports about him and they thought he could play OT in the NFL because of his size, and great blocking ability.
He’s big, but has no speed and will be a short yardage target. He’d be a good red zone target with his size.
He’s a great blocker, and will excel at that with New England.
I don’t know if he makes the team, but tonight you’ll get to see him and he’s someone to keep an eye on.
James Devlin is a FB for New England but has taken snaps at tight end and tonight, you’ll probably see him at TE.
It’ll be fun seeing Devlin out there. He’s a good blocker, decent runner, and catcher so I personally can’t wait to see if he could be a real possibility at tight end this season.
It’s been rumored that Brandon LaFell could play tight end some. He has versatility, able to play outside, inside, and tight end, so there’s a real possibility he’ll line up at tight end a few times.
Don’t count on LaFell taking a lot reps at tight end throughout the season though. You might see him line up there a handful of times throughout the entire season, so he’s not the 2nd guy. He’ll just add a wrinkle to the spot.
For me, the Pats will have Hoomanawanui as their number 3 guy and Williams as their number 2 guy. They will use LaFell as a wrinkle and that’s all the tight ends I see New England having.