Friday’s best at NFL training camps: Mac Jones, Jalen Hurts, young QBs get valuable practice work

As the 2022 NFL training camps prepare to kick into high gear, the league’s young starting quarterbacks are getting valuable reps.

At New England Patriots camp on Friday, spectators expected quarterback Mac Jones to up his game after the offense was almost completely ruled out, scoring just one touchdown on 11 reps in a red zone drill at the end of Thursday’s practice.

Jones did not disappoint, showing his connection to tight end Jonnu Smith is in a better place than it has been for most of 2021. During one play, Jones threw a pass from about 20 yards to Smith in the back of the end zone, with safety Kyle Dugger in cover, and Smith jumped high to catch the pass for a touchdown. Smith, who then grabbed another touchdown from Jones, then followed with an emphatic spike.

While mostly spry, Jones threw his first interception of the camp – straight into the chest of cornerback Jalen Mills.

In Philadelphia, quarterback Jalen Hurts and the offense had a rocky outing on Friday after a strong showing in opener practice. In Tennessee and Washington, it was the young receivers who made their mark.

Here’s what you need to know about league camps:

What our NFL Nation reporters saw today

Washington Commanders: Sophomore wide receiver Dyami Brown needs to be a bigger threat to Washington in his sophomore season. A third-round pick in 2021, he caught just eight assists. But his speed always excites Washington, and on Friday he made a terrific catch. On the play, quarterback Carson Wentz threw deep down the left side to Brown. Corner Kendall Fuller was in perfect position to intercept the ball with Brown pinned to his side. But as Fuller stretched for the ball, Brown jumped up and reached the veteran and caught the ball as they fell to the ground.-John Keim

Philadelphia Eagles: Quarterback Jalen Hurts and the offense struggled after a strong performance in opening practice.

“It didn’t look good,” center Jason Kelce said.

Corner Avonte Maddox provided one of the defensive highlights, rising to intercept a floating pass from Hurts intended for tight end Dallas Goedert.

“It’s Day 2 of camp. We’re going to get it right,” Goedert said.–Tim McManus

Tennessee Titans: Rookie receiver Treylon Burks had another stellar day of work. He used his height to create separation and gain one-on-one reps. The momentum shifted to group practice periods when he caught a few passes from Ryan Tannehill in traffic down the middle.–Turron Davenport

Green Bay Packers: Given his injury history, it would have been easy to say “same old Sammy Watkins” when he started camp on the non-football injury list (NFI). But the veteran receiver the Packers signed in the offseason was relieved after he was able to start training on Day 3 of camp. He said he felt what he called “an adjustment” in one of his hamstrings after pre-camp training.

“The next day I went out and ran routes and I ran and I felt good, and I think I was kind of in my head [thinking]”Man, it happened again,” Watkins said. “But it was really nothing.” His return to practice on Friday came on a day when the Packers only completed a short half-speed practice. Still, Watkins was able to catch a few passes from Aaron Rodgers as he fell back.— Rob Demovsky

Kansas City Chiefs: New defensive end Carlos Dunlap was not in practice. Dunlap told the Chiefs he needed a few days to get his house in order and wouldn’t be returning to camp until the middle of next week. -Adam Teicher

New England Patriots: Rookie goaltender Cole Strange, the team’s first-round pick, ended practice with an exclamation point when coach Bill Belichick called him up for a punt competition. 6-foot-5, 305-pound Strange carried a punt, then when undrafted rookie defensive lineman DaMarcus Mitchell (Purdue) missed his attempt, Strange followed by catching another with a football already in his reach. It sparked a wild celebration by the offense, which didn’t necessarily earn anything other than bragging rights. –Mike Reiss

New York Jets: Newly signed linebacker Kwon Alexander will be brought in slowly as he gets into football shape. The Jets’ plan is to have him work on his own for a few days before heading to the training ground next week for limited work. He hadn’t been signed since the end of last season, so he didn’t have an offseason program. He will be used at linebacker “Sam” and “Will,” starting as a backup.

“No expectations,” said coach Robert Saleh, who coached him in San Francisco. “(He) just has to do what he always does, which is bring a lot of juice, a lot of energy.” — Rich Cimini

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers ranked in the bottom half of the NFL last season in scoring before halftime, so at the end of practice coach Matt Rhule gave quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield each a chance to see what they could do with 1:45 left on the clock. Darnold engineered a touchdown drive through pass interference on a deep pass and a circus catch in the end zone by wide receiver Shi Smith after the ball was knocked down by a defender.

Mayfield’s group produced a long field goal as time expired. Carolina also ranked in the bottom half of the league in the red zone in 2021. Darnold went 0-for-4 in his first series there on Friday. Mayfield went 1 for 4. Darnold completed his first deep practice pass with a strike over 40 yards to Terrace Marshall Jr. –David Newton

Buffalo Tickets: Starting safety Micah Hyde was injured while trying to intercept a pass from Josh Allen. Hyde dropped the ball as it fell to the ground. After a few seconds, starting safety Jordan Poyer waved to the team’s athletic trainers, who came to deal with Hyde. Several Bills players knelt as Hyde was watched and the music was turned off.

He limped off the field with their help and held the back of his leg at one point before getting into the passenger seat of the cart, which took him to the team locker room. Hyde is suffering from a hip and gluteal injury which is still being evaluated. He and Poyer are arguably the best safety tandem in the NFL, so any missed time would be a big loss for this Bills defense. Jaquan Johnson and Damar Hamlin replaced Hyde for the remainder of practice. –Alaina Getzenberg


Top NFL news of the day

Commanders’ Chase Young will miss at least the season opener

Washington defensive end Chase Young will miss at least the season opener — and possibly more — with a knee injury he suffered late last year. A team source told ESPN earlier this month that Young would return mid-September at the earliest.

Cardinals’ JJ Watt not a fan of Guardian ‘bobblehead’ cap

Watt, from Arizona, doesn’t like to wear the Guardian cap during training camp and was quick to share his thoughts on Friday.

“You feel like a bobblehead,” Watt deadpanned. “Like you’re gonna fall. I’m probably gonna get fined for that. That’s great. … There’s 15,000 gone.”

The Guardian cap is required for all offensive linemen, defensive linemen, tight ends and linebackers during practices from training camp through game two of the preseason.

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