Justin Rohrwasser was the first Patriot to hit the practice field Monday as the team held its first full-pads workout of a most bizarre summer and training camp. The kicker played a little catch with fellow rookie Will Hastings before the rest of the players scurried up the back steps to the practice fields.
There were a few unexpected absences, including rookie linebacker Anfernee Jennings, rookie receiver Jeff Thomas, and veteran (but first-year Patriot) nose tackle Beau Allen. Running backs Sony Michel (foot) and Lamar Miller (knee) remain on the physically unable to perform list.
Hastings (unknown) was limited.
DRESS CODE: Full pads.
A CALL TO ARMS
Cam Newton was a vision in red as he made his entrance. As all quarterbacks do, Newton wore a red jersey over a red hoodie, with red-and-white cleats.
Though Newton wore No. 1, there really was no way to tell who has the upper hand in the first Foxborough QB battle in two decades. Newton, Brian Hoyer, and Jarrett Stidham all had turns at first reps during five team periods.
There was limited throwing during the competitive work, as there was a clear emphasis on the running game. Stidham was 5 of 5, Newton was 5 of 6, and Hoyer was 3 of 6. All stats are unofficial, of course, and should be taken with a grain of salt, as it is verboten to touch the QB, so the pass rush isn’t ferocious.
Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, and rookie J.J. Taylor got plenty of work with Michel and Miller out. Harris had excellent jump in his legs and consistently burst through tiny cracks. As always, Burkhead consistently gave second and third efforts, and Taylor is as elusive in person as his college tape shows. The 5-foot-6-inch, 185-pounder can literally get lost in trench traffic.
The Patriots’ top two picks in April, safety Kyle Dugger and linebacker Josh Uche, were on the field a lot; they are poised to help fill big voids left by Patrick Chung and Dont’a Hightower. Dugger’s tracking skills and body control stood out during individual drills.
TIGHT END COVERAGE
Rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene took a lot of snaps and didn’t look a bit out of place. Asiasi made a nice catch of a Hoyer seam pass during a half-speed hurry-up drill (yes, that does sound like an oxymoron) late in practice.
It wasn’t all great news for the rookies. Taylor muffed a punt (he was sent on a lap) and dropped a catchable pass. Rohrwasser was just 3 of 5 on field goals (we’ll call it between 43-48 yards), hooking one far right and slicing one far left.
▪ Julian Edelman (with his trademark yellow Kent State T-shirt hanging out) skyed between defenders Justin Bethel and D’Angelo Ross to snag a Stidham pass on a long route early on.
▪ New tight end Paul Roberts grabbed a late-arriving Newton pass while falling back. He bobbled it but held on as he hit the turf.
▪ Rookie linebacker Scoota Harris drew one of the largest player reactions when he laid out to break up a Newton-to-Devin Ross pass.
▪ Ross beat Joejuan Williams down the sideline to haul in a deep pass from Hoyer.
ODDS AND ENDS
▪ Jermaine Eluemunor wore No. 65 last season. He is wearing No. 72 now, though his helmet stickers still have his old digits. He received a ton of work and is in the mix to replace right tackle Marcus Cannon.
▪ Taylor, Gunner Olszewski, and Isaiah Zuber took reps returning punts.
▪ Jake Bailey’s leg seemed even stronger than last summer, if that’s possible. He consistently blasted his punts high and deep.
▪ Left tackle Isaiah Wynn talked early this month about improving in every area, and he came out firing, putting several defenders on roller skates during competitive periods.
▪ Fullback Jakob Johnson flashed some nice power blocking.
▪ Jakobi Meyers took a penalty lap after he fumbled during a ball-security drill.
▪ Patriots owner Robert Kraft arrived about 10 minutes into the session and hung around for a while (he had a fist-bump for Matthew Slater) before leaving shortly before the players were dismissed.
▪ Slater was his usual ball of energy during practice, working on solo drills with staffers when he wasn’t needed for a team drill. The 13-year veteran gets the most out of every workout.
▪ New England’s summer soundtrack began with a trio of Drake takes: “Laugh Now Cry Later,” “Jumpman,” and “Nonstop.‘'
Tuesday: Padded practice at 10 a.m.