Van Noy believes the Wilson hype
LB has had his eye on rookie QB for years
FOXBORO — Could Kyle Van Noy have a future in scouting?
According to Van Noy, he knew Jets quarterback Zach Wilson possessed rare talent years before the young gunslinger became the No. 2 overall pick in last April’s draft. Van Noy said he first noticed Wilson during a 7-on-7 passing camp a friend of his coordinated in Utah for high school recruits. Van Noy had offered to help run the camp, but couldn’t keep his eye off one dynamic quarterback who had committed to his alma mater, BYU.
“You knew (Wilson) was going to be special,” Van Noy said Thursday. “He’s got a cannon, and he carries himself in a different way that you’re like, ‘OK, he’s got it.’ That’s the kind of guy you like.”
Van Noy and the Patriots surely loved facing Wilson in Week 2, when the rookie threw four picks and took four sacks during a 25-6 Pats win at MetLife Stadium. Wilson finished 19-of-33 for 210 yards and zero touchdowns, after throwing as many passes to Van Noy’s teammates as his own through the first two-plus quarters.
But according to Van Noy, he sees a much sharper quarterback now on tape; one shaped by his extra three games of experience since that loss that should make him tougher to defend Sunday in Foxboro.
“You just see a lot of talent and him understanding his players better, how to navigate through the pocket better, just everything he’s done -- better,” Van Noy said. “Decisions are better, and he’s definitely getting a lot better each and every week, and I knew that back when I met him.”
Earlier this week, Bill Belichick highlighted Wilson’s work against the Titans, a game the Jets won while the rookie went 21-of34 for 297 yards, two touchdowns and one pick.
“He had a lot of big throws against Tennessee. He hit some of the outside throws like he did against us, downfield throws against Tennessee. He’s athletic, gets out of the pocket every week,” Belichick said. “It’s a challenge back there to contain.”
Hightower returns, Onwenu at RT
Dont’a Hightower returned to practice Thursday after sitting out Wednesday’s session with ankle and elbow ailments. He was limited during initial drills and later listed as limited on the team’s official practice report.
During those same drills, offensive lineman Mike Onwenu took reps at right tackle. Against the Cowboys,
Onwenu flipped from left guard to right tackle, a position he played last season as a rookie. He played exceedingly well, despite only practicing twice in the two weeks leading up to kickoff.
If Onwenu starts at right tackle Sunday, and right guard Shaq Mason returns from his abdomen injury, backup Ted Karras should replace Onwenu at left guard, giving the Patriots their healthiest O-line in weeks.
Agholor reflects on his overtime drop
Nelson Agholor would love a do-over.
His drop on the first play of overtime last Sunday, when the Pats dropped a heartbreaker to Dallas, still hurts. Had Agholor caught the ball, he may have taken his short slant pattern to the end zone.
“I’m mad about that one. I don’t really want to talk about it,” Agholor said Thursday. “I think a part of me got a little eager, peeking ahead a little bit. I just wasn’t in the moment. I didn’t keep my eyes on it, kind of peeking ahead. It’s over with, but yeah, I got a little eager.”
Agholor now considers the drop a lesson learned for the next time in a similar situation.
“I can learn from that. Just stay in the moment, even in overtime. Just move the chains,” he said. “Catch it first, and go from there. What they told you as a young kid.”
Jones went back to Agholor two snaps with a backshoulder throw that fell incomplete on the right sideline, a play that appeared to suffer from a lack of chemistry or communication. Again, Agholor sees room to grow and improve.
“It happened, but we’ll get better,” he said. “We’re working on it. It’s’ one of those things that I think the coaches are better to explain that one, but for me, if he gives me opportunities, it’s my job to just find a way. That’s how I look at it. I wish I was a little bit closer to it, and give myself an opportunity to make a play on it.”
Belichick, Pats expect Jets wrinkles
No team in the NFL should be fresher than the Jets, who are coming off an early-season bye week.
That rest has been reflected in the team’s injury report this week, where only six players were listed Thursday. Belichick also believes New York’s coaches will have put their extra time to good use come kickoff.
“I think we’ll see not maybe as much as what we’d see on opening day and that kind of thing, but I’m sure we’ll see some adjustments. It’s a game plan team,” Belichick said. “Especially offensively and in the kicking game that we’re going to have to see some things, be ready for some things that we probably aren’t already practicing. That’ll be a challenge for us, too.”
Asked about the possibility of seeing a wider playbook from the Jets, Van Noy agreed.
“I would agree with that. (Belichick)’s done this longer than I have,” he said with a laugh. “So I’ll lean on that.”