PHILADELPHIA — The quarterbacks were hot in the red zone Tuesday.
The Patriots and Eagles worked exclusively in that precious part of the field, where the stakes — and the intensity of every snap — are at their highest points.
Cam Newton and Mac Jones each sizzled during their competitive team periods, which included mostly seven-on-seven work. Newton finished 13 of 15 with a drop (2 of 2 in 11-on-11s) while Jones was 13 of 14 with an interception (2 of 2 in 11s).
Each QB played with a mix of projected starters and backups against the Eagles’ first- and second-teamers.
Newton flashed excellent zip and accuracy. His decision-making was a tick faster than previous days, which was supremely important considering how fast time and space disappear in the red zone.
“It’s the hardest part of the field, honestly,” said receiver Jakobi Meyers, who had a strong day catching underneath crossers. “Space is tight, you’re right there, and [the defense is] really together on the goal line.
“It’s one of the hardest places on the field. We can’t make any excuses, even though it’s hard for us. We’ve still got to go in, run our routes, and make the tough catches.”
Jones tried to force a seam pass to Devin Asiasi and it was picked by linebacker T.J. Edwards. The rookie was pretty much perfect the rest of the day. Jones, who wore a slightly smaller brace on his left leg as he tests out some preventive equipment, showed patience and pocket mobility to make some plays.
Meyers thought dedicating a day to the red zone will pay big dividends.
“Especially for our offense, going against a good team like the Eagles,” he said. “I thought we got better today — a lot better.”
Safety Adrian Phillips said working in the red zone also was beneficial for the defense and he liked the heightened ferocity of every snap.
“Most defenses have a bend-but-don’t-break mentality, but we’re an attacking defense,” said Phillips. “We don’t even want to let them get down there, so when they do get down there, the main thing is we don’t want to let them run the ball, and if they throw the ball, we’ve got to pick it off.
“Every play is big because you’re playing for points now. When you’re out on the [middle of the] field, they can do a whole bunch of stuff, but in the red zone, it’s all about getting into that end zone, so the intensity picks up.
“The O-line and D-line are teeing off a lot more harder.”
Not spotted: QB Jarrett Stidham (PUP); WR Tre Nixon; TE Matt LaCosse; DLs Lawrence Guy and Byron Cowart (PUP); LBs Terez Hall (PUP), Anfernee Jennings, and Cameron McGrone (NFI); CBs Stephon Gilmore (PUP) and Myles Bryant; S Joshuah Bledsoe (NFI); K Nick Folk; and LS Joe Cardona.
The Patriots are running thin at tight end, with both LaCosse (who was dinged hard Monday) and Troy Fumagalli (undisclosed) unable to participate.
Fellow tight ends Hunter Henry (shoulder) and Jonnu Smith (ankle) were present. For the second straight day, Henry was in full uniform but did only conditioning work. Fumagalli worked out in shorts and a T-shirt. Smith was not in uniform.
Cornerback Jonathan Jones did not participate but did join his teammates late in the session as an observer.
INJURIES: Rookie LB Ronnie Perkins dinged his right knee during a kickoff-coverage session and left for a short time before returning with a wrap on the knee.
DRESS CODE: Full pads.
▪ Philadelphia’s Jalen Reagor made a ridiculous, leaping one-handed catch — looked like he had a Velcro hand — over Patriots cornerback Michael Jackson during one-on-one work. The Eagles tweeted video of it, and it’s worth a look.
▪ Gunner Olszewski went full horizontal extension in the end zone to snag a Jones pass during individual drills.
ODDS AND ENDS
▪ New England receiver Kendrick Bourne showed great concentration and body control to snatch a Newton pass that deflected off linebacker Eric Wilson’s hands just before it hit the ground.
▪ Meyers made an excellent catch in traffic on a bullet from Brian Hoyer.
▪ Hoyer was picked at the goal line by linebacker Alex Singleton.
▪ Quinn Nordin was 3 for 4 on field goals at the end of practice. He connected from 33, 40, and 44 yards but was wide left on a 46-yard attempt.
▪ Many Patriots, including Bourne, Devin Ross, and Jakob Johnson, stayed after practice to catch passes from the JUGS machine.
▪ Bill Belichick watched his defense almost the entire practice, while Matt Patricia watched the offense.
▪ Belichick spent time chatting with Mike Lombardi, who used to serve as a Patriots coaching staff assistant. Lombardi’s son, Mick, is New England’s receivers coach.
▪ Practice wrapped up early, lasting about an hour and 20 minutes, which could mean extended playing time for projected starters Thursday night.
Thursday: Exhibition Game 2 at Philadelphia Eagles, 7:30 p.m.