FOXBORO — As the New England Patriots team enjoys a well-deserved hiatus from on-field practices, individual players are still hard at work making preparations for the upcoming 2022 NFL season.
Accordingly, and in true Patriots fashion, quarterback Mac Jones is taking “no days off.”
New England’s second-year signal caller has taken the proper steps to improve both physically and mentally. He not only sought out measures to increase his velocity, but also methods to build upon his accuracy in various spots on the field. In addition to making individual improvements, Jones’ offseason development program has included spending extended time on the field with his pass catchers.
Since early Spring, the Alabama product has participated in private workouts and informal throwing sessions with several Patriots’ receivers. In April, Jones joined Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, as well as running back J.J. Taylor in Tampa, Florida for an offseason throwing session.
As June drew to a close, the Pats’ starter was spotted throwing passes on a Carlsbad, California field to Agholor, along with minicamp standout Tre Nixon.
With training camp still two weeks away, Jones was once again on the field this week building synergy with a trio of potential offensive weapons: receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey and running back Rhamondre 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 showing during training camp. He saw the majority of his reps in an X-Receiver role, while also receiving notable work on special teams drills. In fact, at one point, he was getting some coverage work alongside special teams captain. Matthew Slater. However, his preseason spotlight began to dim amidst issues with securing the catch. Though Wilkerson was rumored to be in line for a roster spot, he was released by the team during roster cutdown, and subsequently signed to the practice squad. The promising wideout put on an impressive performance in the Pats Week Seventeen’s 50-10 blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wilkerson compiled 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 ahead of 2021, the 6-4, 225-pound receiver went on to set career highs with 13 receptions for 249 yards and a pair of scores. While he is among the least tenured receivers on the roster, Humphrey faces an uphill battle to earn a roster spot. However, his extra-curricular work with Jones may help him to make more of an impression on his teammates and coaching staff in the early stages of training camp.
As a rookie, Stevenson proved himself to be a valuable contributor, both in the present and future, rushing for 606 yards and five touchdowns. Despite the Patriots’ penchant for slowly developing their rookie running backs, the former Oklahoma Sooner has become a factor in New England’s offense in 2021. Listed at 6-0, 230 pounds, he is a physical, powerful runner; yet he is athletic enough to make tacklers miss in short yardage in situational runs. The 24-year-old nicely blends power and athleticism into his running style. After a costly fumble in Week One against the Miami Dolphins, he displayed marked improvement in his ball security. Stevenson also possesses the necessary intangibles to be an effective option in receiving out of the backfield. He compiled 123 receiving yards, on 14 receptions. Still, Stevenson’s prowess continues to be evident on the ground. Whether it be power sidestepping his way into the end zone, or showcasing his speed by breaking for a 91-year touchdown run, he clearly has the skill to be a big part of the Patriots future at the position.
All Patriots players are required to report to training camp on [or before] July 26, with the first team practice set for July 27 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.