American Football

Patriots OTA Notebook: Mac Jones, Bill O’Brien lead the show on offense


NFL: MAY 31 New England Patriots OTA
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Patriots held their first open organized team activity on Wednesday.

The New England Patriots were back on the practice fields for their third organized team activity of the offseason on Wednesday. The 90-minute session also marked the first practice open to reporters.

While organized team activities do not include pads or contact, there was still plenty to take away.


Absentees: K Nick Folk, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, LS Joe Cardona, CB Christian Gonzalez, OG Chasen Hines, DB Isaiah Bolden, OG Mike Onwenu, OT Trent Brown, DL Christian Barmore, DL Davon Godchaux, DL Lawerence Guy Sr.

Limited: RB Rhamondre Stevenson, TE Scotty Washington, WR Kayshon Boutte, CB Marcus Jones, DB Cody Davis

Red non-contact jersey: LB Marte Mapu


Bill O’Brien’s offense: It was hard to miss new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien on the practice field Wednesday. Not only could you easily pick out his voice, but it was clearly his show on offense throughout the day. He operated mainly by himself on the sidelines and handled sole possession of walkie talkie duties calling in plays.

As for the offense itself, quarterback Mac Jones would not get into specifics after practice but did hint that O’Brien has brought offensive elements from his past coaching stops, including Alabama.

“He’s taken a lot of good things from each stop,” Mac Jones said after practice. “He has such a great experience in this league, and in the football world, it’s like a walking dictionary.”

Mac Jones, QB1: Speaking of Jones, it was clear throughout the day that he operated as the team’s QB1. Bailey Zappe worked in behind him as Trace McSorley handled QB3 duties.

Tyquan Thornton steals the show: After not making a splash move at the wide receiver position throughout the offseason, a Year 2 leap from Tyquan Thornton would go a long way for the Patriots offense. If Wednesday afternoon was any indication, it could be headed in that direction. The sophomore receiver showcased his explosiveness throughout the day and hauled in a handful of passes from Mac Jones. It was a positive start he’ll hope to build off of.

Malik Cunningham: While the UDFA is listed as a quarterback, Cunningham was not in a typical red quarterback jersey Wednesday as he spent the afternoon with the wide receivers. He did get some end of practice QB reps with what you could likely call the scout team.

Offensive tackles: With projected starting tackle Trent Brown not present, Calvin Anderson manned left tackle duties while Riley Reiff appeared on the right side. If Anderson rotated out, Reiff would bump over to left tackle with Conor McDermott taking over right tackle. Rookie Sidy Sow also appeared at right tackle with a different unit.

Joe Judge involved: An offseason coaching shuffle has left question marks about Joe Judge’s role/title, but he was extremely involved and hands on with the special teams unit on Wednesday. Judge was vocal during several kicking drills as he appears to be working hand-in-hand with Cam Achord.

Safety Rotation: Replacing long-time safety Devin McCourty, who was in attendance as a spectator Wednesday, will be no easy task. On Wednesday, it was a rotation at safety as Jabrill Peppers, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, Joshuah Bledsoe, and Jalen Mills all took reps at deep safety. Mills, who appears to be making the switch over from cornerback, wasted no time making an impact as he picked off Bailey Zappe.

Other notes:

  • In the coaching staff department, Evan Rothstein continued to work with the quarterbacks.
  • Ty Montgomery appears to be picking up where he left off from last training camp, hauling in a handful of passes out of the backfield. He may enter training camp with the best odds to be the team’s third-down back.
  • Newly signed tight end Mike Gesicki saw plenty of time on the field with fellow tight end Hunter Henry.
  • Bill Murray was the first guard up next David Andrews with Michael Onwenu sidelined. James Ferentz also worked in with Murray. Rookies Jake Andrews and Atonio Mafi flanked second-year man Kody Russey in another unit.
  • With Marcus Jones limited, Myles Bryant, Kyle Dugger, J.J. Taylor, and Demario Douglas took turns fielding punts.
  • Rookie punter Bryce Baringer’s leg was impressive as the ball sounded loud coming off his foot. Fellow rookie Chad Ryland got all the end of practice kicking duties with Nick Folk not present. He made his first four field goals before missing his final two.

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