FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots were back on the practice field Tuesday continuing their OTA sessions. Before players hit the field, Bill Belichick told reporters that this practice would come at a slower tempo after "a big day" on Monday. While things certainly weren't moving at full speed from wire to wire, some periods of the session saw the pace pick up a bit.
Below we'll cover some of the highlights from the first OTA session open to the media this week, which includes a rookie diving headfirst into his new role and even a fight that broke out between some notable stars.
First scuffle of the season
Let's start it off with the skirmish. Things got heated midway through Tuesday's practice during 11-on-11 drills as 2022 first-round pick and starting left guard Cole Strange got into it with linebacker Anfernee Jennings, which created a bit of a scrum with players pushing and shoving one another while coaches aimed to separate everyone. As things started to ramp up, defensive tackle Christian Barmore came over the top and threw a punch toward Strange. Center David Andrews was also in the scrum separating players. While Barmore and Strange weren't sent to the locker room, neither player returned to practice and watched from the sideline.
No top wide receivers
The top of the rotation players at wide receiver were nonfactors on Tuesday. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, and Kendrick Bourne did not participate in the session and were unaccounted for. Meanwhile, DeVante Parker was spotted but wasn't partaking in much, if any, of the drills. That opened the door for some of the bottom-of-the-roster receivers to get some work in with Mac Jones and the other quarterbacks, which included extra throws after practice.
Christian Gonzalez plugging in
First-round pick Christian Gonzalez saw a heavy workload in New England's secondary. He was working almost primarily on the outside opposite of Jonathan Jones while Jalen Mills was in the slot. While Gonzalez was in on several reps, it's hard to grade his actual performance with New England missing essentially all of its top receivers for the day and wasn't truly tested. That said, the fact that he was out there working alongside last year's starters and above the likes of Jack Jones shows that he has the potential to be a plug-and-play starter on Day 1.
Mike Gesicki sees heavy workload
With the wide receivers sidelined, it was a busy day for the tight ends, including Mike Gesicki who signed with the team this offseason. At one point during the practice when most of the roster was working on special teams, he was off to the side alongside fellow tight end Hunter Henry and running back Rhamondre Stevenson catching passes from the quarterbacks.
Mac Jones looks comfortable
While this was a slower-paced practice, the 11-on-11 period did allow for things to pick up a bit. Mac Jones was moving smoothly as New England worked through the progression to get players lined up quickly to snap the ball off. With the top receivers sidelined, however, there were a few speed bumps getting to the line from those more inexperienced pass catchers as they stepped up into the more prominent roles within the offense. Regardless, Jones does appear to be much more comfortable within New England's offense under new OC Bill O'Brien.