The New England Patriots are finished with two of their three scheduled joint practices with the Detroit Lions prior to their preseason opener on Thursday. As part of joint practices, the teams, who do not meet this year, have put together a combined plan to help work on weaknesses to get better.
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New England, primarily, can benefit from practice reps against opposing competition to get different looks on both sides of the ball. The Patriots have seen a lot of positives over the past two days, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Here’s what we’ve seen so far in Detroit.
N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers Are For Real
The Patriots are looking to fill a couple holes at receiver this year and may have found the right candidates. Harry and Meyers have continued to improve and have earned first-team reps along the way. Meyers especially, who has gone from unknown to possible starter in a matter of days, is coming into his own.
Over two days of joint practice, Meyers has stood out among the group of receivers and his connection with Brady is starting to strengthen. He was targeted six times on Monday and put in some good reps on Tuesday.
Harry, who had issues with drops last week, continues to show flashes of excellence, making a one-handed catch during Tuesday’s joint practice sessions. He hasn’t been getting a lot of reps with Brady but he is showing improvement.
The Pass Rush Doesn’t Look Bad
There’s a lot of depth on the edge, and it will be interesting to see who makes the most of their opportunities this preseason.
Rookie Chase Winovich, who can be used as either a linebacker or a defensive end, had a monster day on Tuesday. He recorded a pair of sacks and had a big hit on special teams. Playing near where he enjoyed a successful college career at Michigan, Winovich looks to be feeling at home.
Other bubble players making an early push for a roster spot are Derek Rivers and Shilique Calhoun. It’s been a tumultuous two years so far for Rivers who missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury and wavered between gameday inactive and reserve last season. But so far in camp he has gotten runs with the first-team defense both inside and outside.
Calhoun, meanwhile, is competing hard for the job as well. Also extremely versatile, he has taken a few reps with the starting defense and has been solid in 11-on-11 drills.
Up in the Air
The punting battle continues to wage on between veteran Ryan Allen and rookie Jake Bailey. Allen had a strong 2018 season but he has shown some rough patches over recent years.
Meanwhile, the incumbent Bailey has been the better of the two in head-to-head competition but has been inconsistent in his net yardage. His contract also favors the team more than Allen’s.
It is still early in camp, but Bailey appears to be on pace to win out the job if he keeps up his performance. It will be interesting, however, to see if Bailey gets any game action. Last year, rookie punter Corey Bojorquez never saw the field in his dual with Allen. But as of now, anticipate at least shared punting duties on Thursday.