FOXBORO — While the New England Patriots enjoy a well-deserved break from on-field practices, individual players are still hard at work preparing for the upcoming 2022 NFL season.
Therefore, and in true Patriots fashion, quarterback Mac Jones isn’t taking “any days off.”
New England’s second-year signal caller has taken the right steps to improve both physically and mentally. He not only sought measures to increase his speed, but also methods to build on his accuracy at various points on the field. In addition to making individual improvements, Jones’ offseason development program has included spending extended time on the field with his passers.
Since the start of 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 JJ 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, Calif., field toward Agholor, along with three Nixon standouts in minicamp.
With training camp still two weeks away, Jones was on the field again this week building synergy with a trio of potential offensive weapons: receivers Kristian Wilkerson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey and running back Rhamondre Stevenson.
Scroll to Continue
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 most of his reps in an X-Receiver role while also getting notable work on special teams drills. In fact, at one point, he was getting some coverage work along with the special teams captain. Matthew Slater. However, his preseason focus began to wane amid problems with securing the catch. Although Wilkerson was rumored to be in line for a roster spot, he was released by the team during roster cuts and subsequently signed with the practice squad. The promising tight end turned in an impressive performance in the Pats Week Seventeen blowout of the Jacksonville Jaguars 50-10. 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 during his NFL career. During his time as a member of the New Orleans Saints, Humphrey split his time between the practice squad and the active roster. After signing a future contract through 2021, the 6-4, 225-pound receiver continued to set career highs with 13 receptions for 249 yards and a pair of scores. While he is among the least-recruited receivers on the roster, Humphrey faces an uphill battle to earn a roster spot. However, his extracurricular work with Jones could help him make more of an impression on his teammates and 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 starting lineups 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 lose in situational strides. The 24-year-old combines power and athleticism nicely in his running style. After a costly collision in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, he showed marked improvement in his ball security. Stevenson also possesses the intangibles necessary to be an effective receiving option out of the backfield. He compiled 123 receiving yards, on 14 receptions. However, Stevenson’s ability continues to be evident on the field. Whether it’s the power sidestepping his way into the end zone, or showing off his speed breaking for a 91-yard run, he clearly has the ability to be a big part of the Patriots’ future at the position.
All Patriots players must report to training camp [or before] July 26, with first team practice set for July 27 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.