New England Patriots camp is in full swing as players now have three days of padded practices under their belts.
Given the quarterback competition, the tight end situation, and the position battles on defense, there are plenty of players and storylines to keep tabs on this summer. There also are quite a few rookies who are out to prove they can be a difference-maker right away for New England.
On a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss which players are "popping" and "dropping" so far in practice.
For Perry, the standout performer so far is the Patriots' 2020 second-round selection out of Lenoir-Rhyne University.
"Let's go with the rookie Kyle Dugger," Perry said. "Making good on the investment that the Patriots made of him this past draft. Second-round pick, they traded out of the first round ... Tom, this guy is all over the football every single day.
"Monday, he's forcing a fumble on Jakobi Meyers ... He picked off Jarrett Stidham on Tuesday, and then on Wednesday he had his best day which resulted in a pick of Cam Newton in the red zone, a near-pick of Jarrett Stidham the very next play in the red zone, a pass breakup on Brian Hoyer shortly thereafter. All over the ball, all the time. The kid is coming from Division II with no offseason and he's come in and as soon as the pads come on, he's making plays right away."
Along with Dugger, another rookie is making his presence felt in camp. Curran has been impressed with what he's seen out of tight end Dalton Keene so far.
"Not off the charts, but in the first couple days of practice you can see the Patriots are taking advantage of the versatility he has," said Curran. "Bill Belichick has said, 'Look, [Virginia Tech] didn't run anything like what we run here.'
"But the upside of it is it might not have run anything near the same style offense, but they used him in a million different ways and it looks like the Patriots are taking advantage of not just his smarts and versatility, but he's taking advantage and saying, 'Hey my name is Dalton Keene, some call me Rambo, and I'm going to run into you.'"
Perry added to Curran's point with another rookie tight end, Devin Asiasi, who has been flashing his upside in camp. To hear more about which players are "popping" and "dropping," you can listen to the full episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.
Also discussed by Curran and Perry in the episode: Three things that have stood out in the first three Pats practices, the good and bad from Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, and how Bill Belichick will divvy up the QB reps.