Jarrett Stidham sends reminder he is nonetheless a think about Patriots’ QB image

1. Evolving QB picture: When Cam Newton injured his right throwing hand and did not finish Friday’s voluntary organized staff exercise, and rookie Mac Jones had a few notable missed throws which may have made one surprise if he’s prepared for prime time, it sparked a query that hasn’t been a big part of the Patriots’ quarterback dialogue.

What would occur if that kind of state of affairs unfolded in the common season?

Jarrett Stidham stepped up Friday as the highest option in 11-on-11 drills and delivered a few spectacular throws, almost as if he was saying, “Hey, do not forget about me! Remember, I was the guy everyone was speaking about at this time last year.”

As a pure passer in a shorts-and-T-shirt apply, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Stidham has at all times looked the half. There would possibly as well be smoke coming off the football on some of his high-velocity deliveries.

But the bigger query has been if that could translate to games in high-pressure conditions, and it seemed telling coach Bill Belichick didn’t wish to see extra of him within the final two video games last season after the Patriots had been eliminated from the playoffs.
On Friday, teammates did not sense Newton’s right hand harm was notably critical, as Newton was joking with them within the locker room after practice. A supply later described Newton as “all good.”

But as is often mentioned in the NFL, a backup is one snap away from being thrust into the highest spot. And with the chance of taking a cautious method by holding Newton out of the following two weeks of spring practices to recuperate, the primary target would turn to Jones, Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer in highlighting how the Patriots may deal with that sort of state of affairs within the regular season.

2. Hightower’s return: Take a yr off from soccer and there is no guarantee you’ll choose up the place you left off bodily. That was the cautious message from Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo on the return of veteran Dont’a Hightower, who opted out of the 2020 season.

“The one factor you’ve received to be concerned about with a guy like that, you are coming off a yr of not playing soccer. Training camp and this era right now, these are times right now where you really need to see them get again into football form,” Mayo said. “Hopefully we get the same Hightower we got in 2019, but we’ll see.”

Hightower hasn’t been on the sector for voluntary OTAs this spring but has taken half in virtual conferences, which adds context to Mayo’s remarks.

Sometimes a yr off can do wonders for a participant physically, with tight finish Rob Gronkowski one instance from last season. Other instances, it might be the catalyst to a profession flip, with retiring security Patrick Chung coming to thoughts.

3. Mac the perfectionist: Jones’ accuracy is certainly one of his greatest property, which was highlighted by how he completed a record 77.4% of his passes final season at Alabama. One factor that stood out at Friday’s apply is how he holds himself accountable on each throw, and lets his pass-catchers know it when he’s uncharacteristically off the mark. An example came on one throw to wide receiver Kendrick Bourne in a simple drill with no protection, with Jones delivering the pass behind him and then seeking Bourne out to let him realize it was the quarterback’s error.

4. All-in: Veteran wide receiver Nelson Agholor has been a full participant in the voluntary offseason program, saying he believes it gives him the most effective chance to grow as a player. Agholor’s first impression of Belichick’s program after two months? “Exactly what I anticipated. I just love how trustworthy he is, and I love that he has an expectation for every participant that’s in this building.”

5. Under-the-radar Patriots: Media members have had an opportunity to observe two practices over the previous two weeks, and here are a few lower-profile players who’ve caught the attention for various reasons:

Rashod Berry, ST — It wasn’t essentially one thing Berry did as much as how he follows core special-teamers Cody Davis, Justin Bethel, Matthew Slater and Co. to their drills in apply as a attainable new addition to the group of players who’re on the roster because of their contributions in the kicking sport.

Michael Jackson Sr., CB — With starters Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson not at Friday’s practice, he was enjoying with some of the prime defenders and had tight protection on one sideline throw.

Quinn Nordin, K — The only rookie free agent on the roster, Nordin’s booming kicks generally appear to be they could land within the neighboring town of Walpole.

Isaiah Zuber, WR — If Agholor, Bourne and Jakobi Meyers are the top three receivers, the speedy Zuber may give N’Keal Harry a run for his cash for a task behind them. He had top-of-the-line performs Friday on a laser from Stidham over the middle.

6. Chief concern: The Patriots were with out their high three offensive tackles in Friday’s practice — Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown and Justin Herron — and in a workout when the protection appeared to convey added stress and dropped completely different gamers in coverage to create confusion, the O-line seemed to be on its heels at instances. It jogged my memory, partly, of the Kansas City Chiefs’ struggles in Super Bowl LV and how a shaky O-line can sink an offense.

7. Hall sidelined: Linebacker Terez Hall, who added a hard-hitting presence to the protection after being promoted from the follow squad last season, hasn’t been on the sector in spring practices as he recovers from ankle surgical procedure, according to a supply. In Hall’s absence, and with Hightower not taking part in voluntary exercises, it has opened up prolonged alternative for free-agent signing Raekwon McMillan to get quality reps at the heart of the defense.

8. They said it: “I definitely haven’t seen any letup. He’s as dedicated to this staff as anybody in the group, and that’s why he is such an excellent leader to comply with on the head of it. He has a high, high standard for himself and for everyone on the staff — players and coaches. But the usual he has for himself is what sets everybody else to attempt to observe it. That’s been the identical ever since I’ve known him. It’s the identical this 12 months.” — safeties coach Brian Belichick, on his father, Bill.

9. Grooming Troy: Longtime Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears, whose passion for the job oozes during media interviews, hinted 2021 could possibly be his final season. Patriots Hall of Famer Troy Brown was moved to assistant running backs coach final yr, with Bill Belichick maybe forecasting that Brown would rise up to Fears’ function whenever Fears steps apart. Brown, who turns 50 on July 2, has a brand new look with black-rimmed glasses.

10. Did You Know: Fears, 65, originally joined the Patriots as a receivers coach beneath Dick MacPherson in 1991. That was the yr Irving Fryar turned in the first 1,000-yard season of his profession, ending with 1,014 yards on sixty eight receptions (14.9 avg.).