Patriots training camp stocks up, stocks down: Offense starts shaky, Christian Barmore out

Patriots training camp stocks up, stocks down: Offense starts shaky, Christian Barmore out

The Patriots are almost two weeks into training camp, and we’re starting to get a sense of what this club is shaping up to be for the 2022 season. While there’s plenty of time between now and when they head to Miami to face the Dolphins in Week 1, now seems as good a time as ever to take the temperature of where this team is at this point in camp.

Below, we’ve highlighted several players and/or group positions and taken stock of their status through two weeks, which includes the first round of padded practices.

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Second-year Patriots defensive end Christian Barmore is in the midst of a terrific camp. He routinely dominates 1-vs-1s and looks to be on his way to a breakout sophomore season. He has been a thorn in the side of New England’s running game throughout camp, especially during the padding drills. If he can improve in that area, he’ll be a legitimate wrecking ball along the Patriots’ defensive line when you factor in his pass rushing ability.

“Christian did a good job,” Bill Belichick said Thursday. “He’s way ahead of where he was last year. First, it’s in much better shape. Second, he has a much better understanding of what we’re doing, what our opponents are doing and the day-to-day or weekly routine of how the progression is going to go because he’s been through it.

“… He was more consistent, like all second-year players — that’s not unique to him — but he was more consistent. He has a better understanding of our scheme, the opponent’s scheme, what can happen, what the problem is, how to deal with those problems when they arise. And his physical development, his techniques, his skills: overall strength, speed, endurance improved. They were good anyway, but they got better through training. He is making progress.”

Stock reduction: Mack Jones, passing offense

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The offense has had its moments in camp, but they’ve also taken their lumps as they work in a new “streamlined” system. Quarterbacks especially struggled when practices went to 11-on-11 from 7-on-7 and the physicality increased in front of them. We’ve often seen Mac Jones or rookie Bailey Zappe thrown out of the pocket and forced to punt the ball. Of course, some of that could be a lack of defense or wide receivers struggling to get separation. Whatever the case, it made for an inept start to the offense as a whole.

Those struggles out of the gate may also have been the catalyst for Belichick to dial things back on Wednesday and hold a non-padded session in an attempt to reset the drive.

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One of the bigger questions entering camp surrounds who will claim the starting outside cornerback spot left vacant by JC Jackson. While Jalen Mills seems destined for one of those starting spots, Terrance Mitchell seems to have the inside scoop to claim the other. The veteran — who signed a one-year, $3 million deal with New England this offseason — has seen the vast majority of reps at that spot, along with some from Malcolm Butler. With those reps, Mitchell has played well and recorded multiple pass breakups and an interception thus far.

Mitchell was also the first player on the field before every camp practice.

Inventory Reduction: Game on

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The running game has left a lot to be desired at this point in camp. New England’s defense was routinely able to get into the backfield and record tackles for loss to derail any drive the offense tried to create. What was notably lacking in the Patriots’ rushing attack was success on interior runs, as there weren’t many holes for the backs to run through. Sometimes we’ve seen running backs jump outside and struggle to get to the rim and turn up as well.

The Patriots ran the football 489 times last season, which was the seventh-highest mark in the NFL. That being said, it’s a big part of their offense that hasn’t really gone gangbusters to start camp, which isn’t ideal.

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Parker came to camp as announced. The former Dolphins pass catcher is a big receiver who has shown an ability to make contested catches. The relationship between Parker and Mack Jones was also noticeable during the early stages of camp. The two connected on several big plays, including a 50-yard touchdown run during 11-on-11 Monday in the club’s first full-padded practice.

Not only did Parker bring a big game to this offense, but also injects some energy in the unit as well.

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