FOXBORO — As the New England Patriots enjoy a well-deserved break from on-field practice, individual players are still hard at work preparing for the upcoming 2022 NFL season.
Accordingly, and in true Patriots fashion, quarterback Mack Jones is taking “no days off.”
The second-year signal caller at New England has taken the right steps to improve both physically and mentally. He was not only looking for measures to increase his speed, but also methods to upgrade his accuracy at various points on the field. In addition to individual improvements, Jones’ offseason development program included spending extended time on the field with his passing.
Since early spring, the Alabama product has been participating in private workouts and informal throwing sessions with several Patriots receivers. In April, Jones joined Kendrick Bourne, Jacoby Meyers, DeVant Parker, Nelson Ahlor, as well as running back JJ Taylor in Tampa, Florida for an offseason throwing session.
As the end of June approached, the Pats starter was spotted throwing passes on a field in Carlsbad, Calif. to Aholor alongside minicamp standout Tre Nixon.
Two more weeks of training camp, Jones was back on the field this week building synergy with a trio of potential offensive weapons: receivers Christian Wilkerson and Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and running back Ramondre Stevenson.
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Work with Wilkerson
Since joining the Pats in 2020, Wilkerson has been a mainstay on the team’s practice squad. The SE Missouri State product had an impressive performance during training camp. He saw the bulk of his reps in the X-Receiver role while also getting notable work in special teams drills. In fact, at one point he began working coverage alongside the special teams captain. Matthew Slater. However, his preseason spotlight has begun to dim amid catching issues. Although Wilkerson was rumored to be in line for a roster spot, he was released by the team during roster cuts and subsequently signed to the practice squad. The promising wideout had an impressive performance in the 50-10 drubbing of the Jacksonville Jaguars in Pats Week Seventeen. Wilkerson collected four receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns in his most productive game as a pro.
Help for Humphrey
Humphrey entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2019. The former Texas Longhorn has since appeared in 18 games, including six starts, to catch 16 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns throughout his NFL career. During his time as a member of the New Orleans Saints, Humphrey split time between the practice squad and active roster. After signing a futures contract before 2021, the 6-4, 225-pound receiver continued to set career highs with 13 receptions for 249 yards and a pair of scores. Despite being among the fewest starters on the roster, Humphrey faces an uphill battle to earn a roster spot. However, his extracurricular work with Jones could help him make a better impression on his teammates and the coaching staff in the early stages of training camp.
Refinement of Rhamondre
As a rookie, Stevenson proved to be a valuable contributor, both now and in the future, rushing for 606 yards and five touchdowns. Despite the Patriots’ tendency to develop their recruits slowly, the former Oklahoma Sooner has become a factor in New England’s offense in 2021. Listed at 6-0, 230 pounds, he’s a physical, powerful runner; however, he is athletic enough to make players miss for short yardage on situational runs. The 24-year-old perfectly combines strength and athleticism in his running style. After a costly mistake in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, he showed significant improvement in ball security. Stevenson also possesses the necessary intangibles to be an effective receiving option out of the backfield. He collected 123 receiving yards on 14 receptions. Still, Stevenson’s prowess continues to be evident on the field. Whether it’s power around his way to the end zone or showing off his speed by busting for a 91-year-old touchdown, he clearly has the skill set to be a big part of the Patriots’ future at the position.
All Patriots players must report to training camp on [or before] July 26, with first team practice set for July 27 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.