Patriots rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas makes a catch during a training camp practice in Foxborough, Mass. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Rookie wide receiver Demario Douglas’ 1-on-1 drills have been must-watch spectacles through the first two weeks of training camp.

Douglas is undefeated – a perfect 8 for 8 – in the drills so far. The 5-foot-8 wide receiver can put his foot in the ground, break and suddenly gain separation on his defender when matched up individually.

Half of those wins have come against one of the quickest players on the team in cornerback Marcus Jones, who’s a brave soul for trying to take on Douglas any chance he can get.

“He’s a quick guy, for sure,” Jones said. “We’ve just been going at it every single time. Whenever I see him go up there, I try to go against him, he’s trying to go against me. Just trying to make each other better.”

Douglas, a sixth-round pick, credited Jones with making him faster. The rookie has also beaten cornerbacks Christian Gonzalez, Myles Bryant, Rodney Randle and Shaun Wade in the 1-on-1 drills. Douglas’ win over Bryant came in a red-zone drill Tuesday on an in-route when his sudden quickness left the slot cornerback facing the wrong direction while the rookie wideout easily hauled in quarterback Mac Jones’ pass.

The key, according to Marcus Jones, is that Douglas never loses his momentum.


“I would say definitely his quickness, making sure he knows how to stem,” Jones said when asked what makes Douglas so difficult in those 1-on-1 assignments. “And then also getting out of his breaks. He’s real quick. He doesn’t slow down. Some receivers, in their rookie year, slow down out of their breaks, but he keeps it going. That’s a great thing to have.

“And then also taking the coaching,” Jones added. “Coaches say something one time and he’s right on it, making sure that he’s trying to perfect it. So that’s a great thing to have.”

It was notable to see Douglas earn time alongside wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton and tight ends Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki on Tuesday while the rest of the team worked on kickoff drills. The reason he’s earned more reps with starters – and why he’s spending time with starting quarterback Mac Jones rather than backups Zappe and Trace McSorely early in practice – is that the team is rewarding a player they feel is performing well.

It bears watching how the wide receiver depth shakes out before the season begins. Douglas has more catches from Jones over the past week than second-year pro Tyquan Thornton. Thornton had a solid day of practice Tuesday, however, winning both of his 1-on-1 drills over Wade and Gonzalez and catching three passes during full-team drills.

“Better than last year,” Belichick said about Thornton. “Much better idea of what to do, how to do it, how to prepare, what to expect. Smart kid, works hard, understands a lot.”

JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne and Thornton – a 2022 second-round pick – all seem like locks for the roster. But Douglas is pushing Thornton for reps in practice, and fellow 2023 sixth-rounder Kayshon Boutte has shown special traits in practice after a slow start to training camp. Boutte hauled in one of the best catches of training camp Monday on a somewhat errant throw from rookie quarterback/wide receiver Malik Cunningham. Boutte leaped in the air and caught the pass one-handed in the corner of the end zone.


Boutte has made an especially strong push in the last week. He fell to the sixth round in the draft because of an injury, a poor showing at the NFL Scouting Combine and off-field concerns, but he’s shown enough of the skills that once made him a five-star recruit coming out of high school to potentially convince the Patriots that he’s worth continuing to develop.

The Patriots open preseason Thursday at Gillette Stadium against the Houston Texans. Expect to see a lot of Douglas and Boutte, as Belichick said, “the players who are least experienced will get the most playing time.”

MARCUS JONES flashed something of a mischievous grin after the Patriots’ 12th training camp practice on Tuesday.

The second-year, do-everything cornerback has, of course, practiced extensively in the secondary. He’s taken plenty of reps on special teams, where he was a first-team All-Pro as a rookie. But thus far, Jones has not seen a single snap on offense – where he showed promise in some opportunities last season, including scoring a touchdown on his first career offensive snap.

Jones was asked how he may be preparing for a potential offensive role.

“I find out when you guys find out. I can’t give you anything,” Jones said. “I don’t know anything right now, so whenever my number’s called, I’m going to make sure I’m going to be ready.”


For now, Jones’ focus is on defense, where he’s getting much-needed reps after he had a late start last summer, when he was present at his first training camp but wearing a red non-contact jersey for most of the preseason. Belichick noted how far along the second-year corner is compared to then.

“Way ahead of where he was last year,” Belichick said. “He wasn’t even … I don’t think he was practicing until the middle of August, late August, so with a training camp and a year under his belt, a year of regular season and the offseason, good. He’s made a lot of progress. …

“He’s done a good job, and he knows a lot more, understands more. He’s more familiar with who he’s playing against and what we’re doing.”

Despite a late start last year, Jones was productive in his defensive opportunities as a rookie, as he recorded a pair of interceptions and seven pass breakups. He’s hoping to carry that over this year with more experience and knowledge.

“I’m feeling good,” Jones said. “Like I said before, just taking it day by day, so just trying to get better versus different receivers that we have and everything like that. Just trying to take it day by day.”

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