On Wednesday, the New England Patriots were back in action on the practice fields adjacent to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The defending Super Bowl Champions have completed two thirds of a three-day mandatory minicamp. While final roster projections might be a bit premature, several details are starting to emerge on those that might find themselves a part of New England’s 53-man roster in September. On the day in which team owner Robert Kraft celebrated his 78th birthday, the Pats took the field for their second day of minicamp practices.
Some people call him Maurice…
While it is uncertain if he indeed ‘speaks of the pompitous of love,’ wide receiver Maurice Harris has certainly ‘played his music’ in the New England sun. On this bright, near 80-degree day in Foxborough, he continued to make his case for a spot on the Pats 2019 corps of wide receivers. The 6’3” former Washington Redskins’ wideout has been quite impressive, thus far. He spent much of Wednesday taking reps with quarterback Tom Brady and the first team offense. Harris seemingly caught all that was thrown his way, and his ability to track the ball in the air was on full display. In addition to lining up with fellow receivers Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett, he also participated in punt returning drills.
The Rookie Harris also Rises
With lead back Sony Michel sidelined for the second straight day (undisclosed reasons,) rookie running back Damien Harris continued to get quality reps, in both handoffs and in the passing game. Harris has shown good contact balance in space, as well as reliable hands. He has looked quite comfortable while running routes, and impressive while bringing in checkdown passes. In true Patriots’ fashion, the ‘next man up’ continues to make the most of his opportunities. Harris’ performance has only helped to solidify the Pats’ decision to select him with the 87th pick in the third round of the 2019 draft.
Gilmore “Happy” to Help with Harry
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was among the most impressive defenders on the field during Wednesday’s practice drills. New England’s star defensive back had two pass breakups on the day. He provided stifling coverage on rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry and veteran Phillip Dorsett. While Harry struggled more than he succeeded on day two, he continues to work on getting situated into the Patriots offense. The experience of matching against a seasoned veteran like Gilmore provides Harry with some of the best on-the-job training available. Harry also was also seen absorbing some of the wisdom and counsel of former Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown, who continues to work with the coaching staff during camp.
Holding the Line (backers, that is)
Once again, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo was heavily involved in the workings on the defensive side of the ball. As was the case on Tuesday, Mayo continued to call defensive plays during 11-on-11 drills. The former Patriots linebacker, turned coach, was a defensive play-caller on the field during his playing days. While speculation has arisen that he is being groomed for play-calling during the season, it is more likely that Mayo’s experience is being used to its greatest effectiveness. Linebacker Jamie Collins worked with the starting linebackers for much of Wednesday. He looks to be a key contributor to the group, heading into training camp.
Additional Day Two Notes:
Safety Patrick Chung, running backs Sony Michel and Nick Brossette, offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and defensive end Deatrich Wise were absent from Wednesday’s practice. Safety Nate Ebner was present at practice, but was not in uniform.
Quarterback Tom Brady was 10-of-16 in 11-on-11 drills and 13-of-19 overall in team drills. Brian Hoyer was 9-of-14 in 11-on-11 drills, and 15-of-20 overall. Jarrett Stidham was 4-of-5 in 11s and 7-of-9 overall. Danny Etling was 1-of-3 in 4-on-4 drills and did not compete in full-team drills. (Statistics via Doug Kyed, NESN)
The Patriots conclude their 2019 mandatory minicamp on Thursday, June 6 on the practice fields at Gillette Stadium.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC