Day 2 of New England Patriots training camp is over. The session, which again took place in perfect conditions on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, once more saw a heavy focus on the red zone while players were not wearing any full pads.
Despite the setup, however, there were a few players that stood out — for better or worse. Let’s take a look at them.
Winner: DB Joshuah Bledsoe: The Patriots’ secondary remains a work in progress, but second-year man Joshuah Bledsoe has certainly thrown his hat into the ring to compete for a spot on the roster. A sixth-round draft pick out of Missouri last year, he had another active day: Bledsoe was able to break up three passes while again seeing some noteworthy action with the top-level defense.
Winner: WR DeVante Parker. Another day, another impressive effort from DeVante Parker. The Patriots’ offseason trade acquisition was once again the top wide receiver on the field and had some good connections with Mac Jones. The first play of Thursday’s 7-on-7 red zone portion already set the tone: Jones hit Parker on a back-shoulder pass near the goal line and he toe-tapped his way for a score against Jalen Mills.
Winner: CB Jalen Mills. Despite giving up the touchdown to Parker mentioned above, the second-year Patriot had a solid session on Thursday. Again serving as a starter on the outside, Mills broke up a slant intended for Nelson Agholor at one point and also was tightly covering Parker on several occasions. All in all, an active day for the veteran.
Winner: TE Hunter Henry. After what was a relatively quiet day for the tight ends on Wednesday, both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith had good performances on Thursday. Henry in particular stood out, catching three total passes — including a twisting overhead touchdown against a tightly-covering Kyle Dugger as well as the final catch of the day to end the offense’s streak of 10 straight unsuccessful red zone attempts.
Loser: QB Bailey Zappe. The Patriots’ fourth-round draft pick experienced some rookie growing pains on Thursday. Serving as QB2 behind Mac Jones — Brian Hoyer saw no competitive reps — he was unable to take advantage of the opportunity. Zappe was charted going 6-for-10 in 7-on-7s and just 2-for-7 in full-team work. He ended the day with an 0-for-4 effort during the session’s final red zone drill.
Loser: CB Malcolm Butler. For the second day in a row, Butler was serving backup duty with Terrance Mitchell starting ahead of him. His practice as a whole was a disappointing one regardless of his standing on the current depth chart: the veteran was beaten twice by Nelson Agholor, once in 7-on-7s and another time in 11-on-11s (even though Agholor was unable to get his feet down).
Thursday’s practice saw some positive contributions from other players as well. The aforementioned Jonnu Smith had an acrobatic touchdown, while rookie Tyquan Thornton caught all four of the throws coming his way.
On the other end of the spectrum were, sophomore linebackers Cameron McGrone and Ronnie Perkins. Both spent some time with the scout-team defense at one point but labeling them as “losers” would still be an overreaction at this point in time and with pads not yet on.
They and the rest of the team will return to the practice fields on Friday morning for session No. 3.