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Joshuah Bledsoe leads the way for young Patriots high schoolers


Bledsoe was one of the standout players in the Patriots’ first four practices.

Joshuah Bledsoe, pictured at the Senior Bowl, is off to a strong start in Year 2 after missing nearly his entire rookie season through injury. AP Photo/Rusty Costanza

FOXBOROUGH — Safety Joshuah Bledsoe spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve due to a hand injury.

Now in Year 2, Bledsoe has been the surprise so far in Patriots training camp. The 2021 sixth-round pick was arguably the best defensive back for much of the first four practices, recording five pass breakups, and was on cover to force a few more incompletes for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

While being the breakout player in the padless portion of training camp, Bledsoe is just “glad to be out there on the pitch” after failing to play in a game as a rookie, adding “he can’t complain”.

“It feels good to be on the field with my teammates,” Bledsoe said after Saturday’s practice. “Obviously you make plays that just build confidence. Now I just try to take it game by game and give it my all in every game.”

Bledsoe credited what he learned watching from the sidelines as a rookie for part of why he had a strong start to camp.

“Last year I was locked up mentally, so it’s just carried over to the pitch, and I’m able to play fast.”

Not only did Bledsoe’s veteran teammates notice his play to start camp, but they also credited his ability to learn while he was off the field.

“He’s just growing,” safety Adrian Phillips said after practice Thursday. “He’s able to go out and put things together. He’s learning, he’s asking questions, things you want to see from young guys, and he’s looking forward to getting out there.

“Sometimes [you mess up] and this is happening in our domain. You know, you go back on something and you might mess up, we might all mess up, but he’s not scared and he wants to get another rep, so it’s good to see him grow.

“Josh was flying all over the place today,” added corner Jalen Mills after Thursday’s practice. “He kind of missed a bit because of his hand. Now he has the opportunity to show the coaching staff what he has from last year. I think it’s really important to him.

Bledsoe’s performance rewarded him later in the week. He shared nickel corner snaps with rookies Marcus Jones and Jack Jones, as well as second-year corner Shaun Wade, as veteran Jonathan Jones remains on the PUP roster due to a shoulder injury.

Although the corner is not Bledsoe’s listed position, he was part of the first-team defensive unit that looked solid for much of Saturday’s practice. Mac Jones completed just 6 of 12 passes during 11-on-11, having to hold the ball and struggle for many plays due to receivers’ inability to create separation against the secondary.

Bledsoe brushed off any alleged struggles anyone thought he might have had during training.

“We’re all versatile,” Bledsoe said. “We can all play anywhere and make it difficult for the quarterback. We line up in a position once, then another set comes, and we change it. We always do the same thing. People are just in different places. It’s really cool.”

Bledsoe isn’t the only young high school player to stand out in camp so far. Rookies Marcus Jones and Jack Jones were also there. Jack Jones had a pass breakup for 7-for-7 on a pass from Bailey Zappe thrown to fellow rookie Tyquan Thornton.

Jones also felt the defense had a good day on Saturday.

“Yeah I think so. We just came out firing on all cylinders,” Jones said. “The defense came out with juice. After the defense made a play, we just fed off of that.

Jack Jones said he felt “much more comfortable” working with the Patriots in training camp than he did in minicamp, saying he had built a base on which he wanted to lean on.

“I’m always getting my feet wet,” Jones said. “I’m just hoping to get one percent better every day and keep piling day on day. I’m learning something new, so like I said, one percent better every day, so I think it’s a great start.

Since minicamp ended in early June, Jones said he’s put on “a few pounds” to help bulk up his 5-foot-11, 175-pound frame. Like Bledsoe, Jones also feels versatile, saying he has no preference if he plays outside or inside as a corner, nor if he prefers a zone or coverage scheme. men.

Like Bledsoe, Jones is proud to bond with the Patriots high school veterans, citing Malcolm Butler as one of the players who helped him a lot because he sits next to him in meetings.

“These guys help me with a lot of things, in the theater, off the pitch,” Jones said. “I feel like I ask these guys more questions than anyone else. So I mean, I’m just following their example. They know more than me.

Returns from Bledsoe and Jones were good early on, but both players know they are still very early in the season as padded training doesn’t start until Monday.

“[The coaches] say I’m doing pretty well. I just take it day to day,” Bledsoe said.


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