New England Patriots WR DeVante Parker Reinforces Role With Big Plays, Contested – New England Patriots Blog

Foxboro, Mass. – Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and the NFL:

1. Parker’s Place: The red zone was a primary thrust during the first four days of training camp, and it quickly became apparent that veteran receiver DeVante Parker was a big part of the Patriots’ plans.

When space gets tight on the field, the catch radius of a 6-foot-3, 219-pound target like Parker stands out when quarterback Mac Jones is assessing his options.

“Big body, can do a lot of plays, catch catches,” said hard end Hunter Henry. “It’s always good to add a guy like this and put a little pressure on everyone else.”

A signature play from the early part of camp was seen in a 7-on-7 drill at the 10-yard line – Jones in the shotgun, Parker went wide to his left.

Jones released the ball when Parker crossed the goal line, the eight-year-old veteran was not open. He was stopped by cornerback Jalen Mills wearing mittens as part of a technique to avoid being grabbed.

But Jones delivered a right back-shoulder throw and Parker adjusted it, tapping his feet along the left boundary.

“Mack sees where the defender is. He puts it in a great position and I’ve been able to come down it,” said Parker, who has led the NFL in tight-window catches over the past five seasons (less than According to the NFL Next Gen Stats, 1 yard has been covered as soon as a pass comes.

It’s likely what Bill Belichick envisioned when the Patriots secured a fifth-round pick from Parker and the Miami Dolphins in March in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick.

The Patriots may not have a clear No. 1 receiver, but pairing Parker with Nelson Agholor, Jacoby Meyers and Kendrick Bourne – and drafting speedster tycoon Thornton (Baylor) in the second round – could potentially give them a deep Gives different groups.

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Parker, in short, projects to fill the role of what the Patriots envisioned when they drafted N’Keil Harry at the end of the first round in 2019. Harry was traded to the Chicago Bears on July 12 for the 2023 seventh-round pick (and Parker is now wearing his No. 1 jersey).

Parker, 29, is feeding off the energy of the vibrant scene at training camp, where thousands pack the bleachers and hillsides every day. After a separate tight-window catch in the red zone, he pointed to the crowd and raised his arms in the air, causing a roar of attendees.

“Big energy,” said Mills, the veteran cornerback who is often assigned to cover him. “You like to watch it.”

2. Real Football: Monday is an important day for the Patriots – the first practice in full pads. This is the date that Belichick essentially referred to as the actual start of training camp. Defensive tackle Devon Godchaux said players “can’t do much” before that point and expected some setbacks. Added Mills: “That’s when we’re playing real football, watching the big guys in the trenches, clapping those pads, and us on the back end, competing with the receivers, bit them. jamming.”

3. Taking charge: Teammates are seeing a difference in Jones in his second season, and longtime team leaders such as Matthew Slater have said it is only a matter of time before the team really becomes his. “He’s definitely more commanding than he was last year,” added offensive tackle Trent Brown. Jones is usually one of the first players to come in for practice each day, giving himself 15-20 minutes to rest and work on the fundamentals.

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4. OT Switch: Belichick reduced the team’s offensive tackle flip in the spring—Brown on the left, Isaiah Wynn on the right—to nothing more than the benchmark of building versatility along the line. But that’s the way it’s been early in training camp and it seems to be an enduring sentiment, especially when Brown said of left tackle: “It’s feeling like home.”

5. Corner concerns? Mills has a crucial question in the front corner, where veteran Terrence Mitchell got an early opportunity to camp, and Belichick praised his instincts. The Patriots are the sixth team Mitchell, 30, has been with in his nine-year career. Then there is 32-year-old Malcolm Butler, who admitted he is “getting in shape” while realizing he has already pulled out of battle after not playing in 2021. They were the top two choices against rookie Jack Jones (4th round). Arizona State).

6. Stevenson’s Transformation: Ramondre Stevenson reported training camp at 225 pounds, which he said was seven pounds lighter than the previous year. But it’s not just the numbers, as much as the type of weight he’s lifting. “I feel like I’ve become a lot leaner and I feel better overall,” he said. It shows, as Stevenson has seen fluid as a pass-catcher in space was one of his off-season goals. The result is Stevenson giving himself the opportunity to stay on the field in a “passing back” role.

7. Simple = Success? If there was a common thread listening to Patriots offensive players after the first leg of practice, it was their optimism about changes to streamline the attack. Stevenson, for one, said it was “simple, easy to learn, and you can play fast.” Brown and Bourne were among those to echo those views, with Mack Jones saying: “We’re doing a lot of good stuff as planned to get up there and get the ball very fast.”

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8. Uche’s ‘Breakout’: The Browns predicted a “breakout year” for linebacker Josh Uche, the 2020 second-round pick, who played just three snaps (not including below the knee) in last season’s playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills, but a disruptive pass. – Has shown signs of rash when healthy. Uche was at his best in Michigan when his weight was in the 230s, and he seems to be back in that range, despite being listed on the roster at 245. Uche is progressing well early in the camp when he is asked to cover the running back. in the flat.

9. Tight Coverage: The Patriots’ defense isn’t the only group that offers tight coverage; Around 200 media credentials were issued by the team for the training camp in the first four days, indicating how many journalists, camera operators etc. have been present each day.

10. Do you know? The Patriots were 11th in the red zone offense last season with a 61.9 touchdown percentage (63 trips, 39 TDs). AFC East champion Bill is in eighth place with a league-high 77 trips and 48 touchdowns (62.3%).