Patriots OTAs Practice Report: Highlights, QB Stats, 3 Studs, 3 Duds

Here's everything we saw during the New England Patriots' final open OTA practice, including a notable development involving Drake Maye.

FOXBORO, Mass. — With all eyes on Drake Maye and the offense, it was the defense that ruled the day during the final New England Patriots OTA practice open to reporters.

Tuesday’s session featured extended team drills in the red zone, with the defense holding a clear edge throughout. The Patriots also made a notable change involving their quarterbacks, and multiple key players were absent from the voluntary practice.

Let’s get into all of it.

Patriots OTA Practice Report — Tuesday, June 4

Jerod Mayo Press Conference

Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo met with reporters for roughly 10 minutes before practice. He was asked about Maye, fellow rookie quarterback Joe Milton, his coaching staff, and more.

On Maye’s development: “He’s doing well. He’s headed in the right direction. A lot of times, people think it’s this longitudinal, just straight line up to the top, and realistically, it’s up and down, up and down, up and down. But hopefully, you end up still … going in the right direction. So, he’s doing well.”

On what he’s seen from Milton: “I think the easy thing to say is his cannon of an arm. But just his energy. He has a natural leadership skill as well. He’s been great for the run.”

On whether the Patriots could move Mike Onwent to left tackle: “To be transparent, not right now, no.”

On working with a new coaching staff: “There comes a point in time where you have to lean on the experts, and I’m not standing up here like I have all the answers because I don’t, whether it’s from a head coaching standpoint, a defensive standpoint, or an offensive standpoint. So, I’m leaning on those guys to really — they’re teaching me at the same time on the offensive side of the ball. So, I think it’s important that those guys get those reps.”

On Matthew Slater’s role: “Everything. Everything. Like, seriously, he’s a catch-all. Remember, we came in together. We’re like brothers. He played a lot longer than me, and I’ve said this before: Who knew Slate should be a gold-jacket guy? Who knew at that time? We think very much alike. What I will say is at this level, it’s hard to find people that tell you the truth, and he’s one of those guys that, he’ll let me know what it really is.”

Attire

Helmets and shells. Pads aren’t permitted until training camp.

Attendance

The following players were absent from practice:

EDGE Matthew Judon
LB Sione Takitaki
CB Marcus Jones
CB Jonathan Jones
LB Jahlani Tavai
EDGE Josh Uche
OL Zuri Henry
OL Jake Andrews
OL Cole Strange
OL Mike Onwenu
OL Chuck Okorafor
WR T.J. Luther
WR Kendrick Bourne
DT Davon Godchaux
DL Daniel Ekuale

Rookie receiver Javon Baker and rookie cornerback Marcellas Dial spent the day on the lower practice field, potentially indicating minor injuries. Tavai also worked on the lower field before watching team drills.

Again, these practices are voluntary, so don’t read too much into attendance — mandatory minicamp is scheduled to start next Monday.

QB Report

Jacoby Brissett
11-on-11s: 3-for-10, four sacks
7-on-7s: 6-for-9

The vast majority of live team periods were conducted in the red zone. The condensed field favors the defense, plus New England’s defense is more experienced and further along than the offense. It would’ve been a surprise to see the offense excel.

With all that said, Tuesday was ugly for all the quarterbacks, including Brissett and the first-team offense.

Brissett went 0-for-5 during the first 11-on-11 period as Patriots receivers failed to gain any separation. The offensive line, which was without most of its projected starters, also struggled throughout.

Still, the entire operation just looks better with Brissett on the field. He’s poised, accurate, and vocal.

Drake Maye
11-on-11s: 3-for-6, two interceptions, one sack
7-on-7s: 3-for-4

It was an up-and-down day for Maye, who had some good plays but also threw two interceptions. The first was an ugly overthrow picked off by Kaleb Ford-Dement and was the kind of bad play that showed up far too often on Maye’s UNC tape.

However, the real story was how the Patriots used Maye. The third-overall pick previously repped behind Brissett and Bailey Zappe during all practices open to reporters. But Tuesday saw Maye rep after Brissett and before Zappe, a notable change, albeit an inevitable one.

Overall, there weren’t many opportunities for Maye to showcase his talent. There were many short throws and checkdowns, and he dealt with significant pressure.

Bailey Zappe
11-on-11s: 2-for-4
7-on-7s: 2-for-4

Is “Zappe Fever” entering its final hour?

Mayo recently told Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer that the goal is to trim the quarterback room to three before training camp. Brissett and Maye are locks, and it’s hard to envision New England cutting Milton after drafting him in the sixth round. That leaves Zappe as the likely odd man out.

Zappe’s work early in OTAs led some to wonder whether the Patriots potentially could start the season with Zappe as the primary backup. But Tuesday’s shift might forecast his eventual departure. We’ll just have to wait and see.

As for his performance in Tuesday’s practice, Zappe was Zappe. There were checkdowns, overthrows, and scrambles. He also looks tiny when standing next to Brissett, Maye, and Milton.

Joe Milton
11-on-11s: Zero reps
7-on-7s: 1-for-4

Despite everything we just said about Zappe, Milton remains the clear No. 4 quarterback. He has a long way to go.

Milton’s arm strength is undeniable, but his accuracy and touch need work. At one point, he missed an open receiver in the end zone, throwing hard and wide when patience and a softer touch likely would’ve resulted in a completion.

Three Studs, Three Duds

STUDS
WR DeMario Douglas
The Patriots’ best receiver was targeted early in often and scored multiple TDs during team drills. He was about the only thing the offense could bank on.

CB Christian Gonzalez
After being limited in prior practices, Gonzalez was a full participant and lined up as the Patriots’ No. 1 cornerback. He looked great, particularly during one red-zone rep where he blanketed rookie receiver Ja’Lynn Polk.

DL Christian Barmore
The Patriots’ offense did relatively well during 7-on-7s, but it was a different story when the lines got involved. Barmore was strong on the pass rush, forcing multiple scrambles and would-be sacks.

DUDS
Offensive line
This probably is unfair as the O-line was playing without its top two tackles and left guard. Nevertheless, it was a struggle, and Brissett at one point showed his frustration. Calvin Anderson was the top left tackle, while rookie Caedan Wallace moved to right tackle after previously working on the left side.

WR Tyquan Thornton
The bulked-up Thornton impressed during a previous practice, but he was quiet on Tuesday. The third-year receiver was a non-factor during team drills and might’ve been dealing with an injury.

WR K.J. Osborn
Osborn made some nice plays but also dropped two touchdowns. Too inconsistent, which has been the story of his spring.

Assorted Notes and Highlights

  • Robert Kraft was on hand for most of the practice. He greeted Polk, Osborn, Douglas, and Brenden Schooler, among others.

  • Second-year corner Alex Austin saw a lot of work and was impressive. You never want to make too much of OTA practices, but he might have the inside track on one of the final cornerback spots on the roster.
  • Milton dances. A lot.

  • Tight end La’Michael Pettway was really fired up after connecting with Brissett on a nice TD grab in the back of the end zone during 7-on-7s. The offense talked a lot during 7-on-7s, but the defense did all the talking during full-team drills.
  • Second-year kicker Chad Ryland was 4-for-5, including a miss from roughly 48 yards. He’s competing with Joey Slye for the starting kicker job.
  • Maye’s best sequence: back-to-back touchdowns during 7-on-7s, with the first to JuJu Smith-Schuster and the second to Douglas.
  • Retired running backs coach Ivan Fears continues to watch practices from the bleachers. That’s been the case since he retired after the 2021 season.
  • The Patriots ran drills for the new kickoff rule early in practice. We’re barred from reporting any details, but it was interesting.

Here are some highlights from the drills we saw early in practice:

  • The Patriots were scheduled to hold another open OTA practice on Friday, but it was canceled. Our next look at the team will be on Monday for the start of mandatory minicamp.
  • Tom Brady’s Patriots Hall of Fame ceremony is scheduled for next Wednesday. We’ll be there.

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