Patriots

Postcard from Patriots minicamp: Jamie Collins makes his presence felt

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Postcard from Patriots minicamp: Jamie Collins makes his presence felt

FOXBORO — Day 3 of Patriots minicamp began with players acknowledging that they aren’t the talk of the town in Boston at the moment. Julian Edelman wore a Bruins jersey (No. 13 borrowed from teammate Phillip Dorsett), and Dorsett, Dont’a Hightower and others wore spoked-B hats on their way out to the fields behind Gillette Stadium. 

The Bruins and Blues will play Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals tonight at TD Garden. There would have likely been several Patriots players at the game tonight, but Robert Kraft is hosting last year’s championship team to his home (including players no longer on the club) to hand out Super Bowl rings. Priorities. 

Here’s what we saw from the final day of Patriots minicamp practice... 

NOTABLE ABSENCES

Sony Michel remained a no-show on the practice fields behind Gillette for the third straight day. Damien Harris got plenty of work in Michel’s absence. 

Patrick Chung, Deatrich Wise, Yodny Cajuste and Demaryius Thomas remained out. They did not participate in practices this week. 

FAKE FOOTBALL, REAL NOTES

Early in the practice, N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers got some 2-on-2 time with Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. Josh McDaniels watched closely and played the role of defensive back, asking the receivers to react to his positioning and adjust their routes accordingly. Harry ran one a yard or two off of where Brady was targeting and the pass skipped away without Harry even being able to attempt to dive for it. When Harry ran the correct distance on his next route, McDaniels and Brady provided him some positive reinforcement. 

When the Patriots did 11-on-11 work with sound piped in, Brady launched his first pass deep for Julian Edelman. Jonathan Jones was right there in coverage and broke up the play. 

Maurice Harris finished off a strong week of work with a long reception from Brady that was the result of some trickery at the line of scrimmage soon after the snap. 

Duke Dawson got his hands on the football deep down the right sideline, breaking up an attempt from Brady to Phillip Dorsett. Dawson has been in the right place at the right time when targeted in competitive drills over the last two days of minicamp practice. 

Jamie Collins once again made his presence felt early on in competitive drills. Rushing off the edge, he read Brady and jumped to break up a pass at the line of scrimmage. In a passing-down role, Collins’ athleticism could be a weapon. 

Stephon Gilmore had one of the more impressive pass breakups of the afternoon in the red zone when Brady tried to hit Edelman. Gilmore left his man with the ball in the air to undercut the throw and bat it out of the back of the end zone. There’s no doubt who the most impressive defensive back has been during “passing camp” this week. Gilmore looks like he’s picked up from where he left off last year. 

Jakobi Meyers and Julian Edelman had drops in drills early in the practice. Matt LaCosse also had a Brady pass go through his hands in an 11-on-11 period later in the workout. 

In a continuation of what happened at times Wednesday, rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham was the second passer up in team drills. He completed short throws to Rex Burkhead and Ryan Izzo but had consecutive inaccurate passes to fellow rookies N’Keal Harry and Damien Harris fall incomplete. His best pass of the afternoon came in the red zone when he hit Jakobi Meyers on a perfectly placed pass that led Meyers to open space in the back corner of the end zone. 

Brian Hoyer was the third quarterback on the field during team drills. His best throws came in the red zone as well. He hit Phillip Dorsett on a 50-50 ball with Joejuan Williams in coverage. He later his Braxton Berrios in the back of the end zone with coverage closing in.  

Check out Phil Perry's 53-man roster projection>>>>

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Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Tom Brady is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his 20-year NFL career. While the legendary quarterback could return to the New England Patriots in 2020, there's no guarantee that he will.

If Brady doesn't return, the Patriots will have a number of ways to address the quarterback position. They could target a free agent passer in one of the strongest free agent quarterback classes ever. They could spend a draft pick on one in a strong 2020 quarterback draft class.

Or they could roll with the only other quarterback option they currently have on their roster, 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham.

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Stidham spent his rookie season backing up Brady and played a grand total of 15 snaps for the squad. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards and threw an interception in that action.

Despite his relative inexperience, Stidham would theoretically be the next man up at quarterback if Brady leaves. But moving forward, he isn't thinking a lot about Brady's impending free agency. He's more focused on what he can do to improve heading into his second year.

"Right now, I can't really think too much about [Brady's free agency]. I have to worry about what I need to do to prepare to enhance my game, to learn as much as I possibly can," Stidham said per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "That's the biggest thing I've focused on, making a big stride from Year 1 to Year 2."

That said, Stidham did call his time learning as Brady's backup "priceless" and said that Brady is "phenomenal" in all facets of the game.

"He's a phenomenal teammate, a phenomenal person, obviously a phenomenal player," Stidham said per Reiss. "There was just so much that I got to learn from him. He was obviously very open to me about stuff that he's thought about the game of football, and stuff like that. It was great. I can't speak highly enough of that guy."

Perhaps Stidham's time learning from Brady has served him well. After all, Patriots fans haven't seen him in action since Week 7 and Phil Perry reported that Stidham was impressing his teammates and coaches alike in late-December.

But is he ready to be a starter? The Patriots moves this offseason will surely tell us more about their thoughts on that.

The Patriots won't definitively know what Brady's plans are for 2020 until he puts pen to paper somewhere. In the interim, it's at least encouraging that Stidham is putting in the effort behind the scenes to improve after spending a year learning from Brady. 

Eminem name-drops Tom Brady on his just-released album

Eminem name-drops Tom Brady on his just-released album

Tom Brady appears to have a kindred spirit as his career continues into his 40s.

Eminem name-drops TB12 on the track "Premonition" off the album "Music To Be Murdered By" which he released on Friday.

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The song takes on the critics of the 47-year-old rapper from Detroit and compares the critiques he gets to ones leveled at LeBron James, 35, and the Patriots quarterback, who'll turn 43 in August. 

Here's part of the song:

“Revival flopped, came back and I scared the crap out ‘em

But Rolling Stone stars, I get two and a half outta

Five, and I’ll laugh out loud

‘Cause that’s what they gave BAD back in the day

Which actually made me not feel as bad now, ‘cause

If it happened to James

It can happen to Shady

They do the same [expletive] to Brady

More people hate me than love me

This game will make you go crazy.”

It's not Eminem's first reference to Brady in one of his songs. In 2013's "Baby", he raps, "I'm what Tom Brady is to the Patriots of rap. Not a man, a weapon."

And it's just the latest Brady reference that has dotted hip-hop and rap since the mid-2000s when the QB led the Pats to the second and third of the six Super Bowl titles they've won. Other artists such as Drake, Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and Kanye West have referenced him as a symbol of excellence. 

Brady told the Boston Globe last year before the Super Bowl he appreciates it.

 “That’s always really cool,” Brady said. “I’m a big fan of so many of those guys. I have a lot of friends [in music] that I’ve met over the years that are fans of what we do, too...I think that mutual appreciation or admiration is really flattering.”