With the players returning from a day off, the morning two-plus hour session on the sunny, warm practice fields behind Gillette Stadium saw the coaches seemingly turn up the expectations just a bit. It was a pretty physical and at times boisterous workout.
Gronkowski was working with Brady, as a small group of top receivers generally do during special teams work, when Bill Belichick brought Revis over to the mix. At that point Revis gave the tight end a three-quarter speed or so coverage look during a few breaks in his routes. Brady also gave Gronkowski some specific instruction on how he wanted things run.
Not only could Revis give Gronkowski a unique look in coverage as one of the top corners in the game, he might also be able to give the big target some tips on how he might beat the smaller, more talented coverage players that teams could throw at the soft-handed human mismatch.
Regardless, the visual of the three working together was a three-man image to illustrate the potential theme of the new New England season. Even Patriots owner Robert Kraft stopped by the drill to say something to Brady. Mix in the nearby Belichick and Hall of Fame talents at owner, coach, quarterback, tight end and cornerback were all within about 10 yards of each other on one practice field in Foxborough.
That's a pretty neat image for Patriots fans to digest.
Anyway, here are one man's blogservations from the practice field on a nearly perfect day for football practice:
--Those not practicing included
--With Connolly absent,
--With Stork absent
--Kline continues to take reps as an extra, oversized tight end at times in team action.
--Former Patriots offensive coordinator and current Kansas head coach Charlie Weis was in attendance at the practice. He spent time catching up with his former coworkers on the coaching staff. He also had a long chat with Edelman late in the workout.
--A few members of the Toronto Blue Jays attended the workout, including starting pitcher Mark Buehrle and DeMarlo Hale, a bench coach who formerly served as the third base coach for the Red Sox.
--Former New England center Dan Koppen watched the practice and spent some time chatting with Weis.
--The receivers worked on another drill with a ball being thrown directly over their heads, but this time it was while they ran away from the passer at a slow speed.
--It's interesting to watch the competitors at tight end do one-on-one drills with the pass rushers.
--Smith had to do a penalty lap in the drill, likely for jumping offsides, drawing the pretty loud ire of Belichick.
--There are a lot of different quarterback and receiver pairings mixed up in various drills and segments. One duo that seems to struggle to be on the same page together with regularity is
--There was a pretty entertaining one-on-one drill between the DBs and WRs early on. The highlight of the drill was Edelman's one-handed catch being Arrington. Brady also completed a nice throw to Edelman, who beat Revis pretty impressively.
--Hightower has been very physical to open camp, coming up with a number of big pops in the running game during each of the three padded practices. That was the case once again on Tuesday.
--Ball security had been a focus throughout camp. A period with that focus on Tuesday included a ball carrier battling two defenders on the way down the field, one on each side of the runner. The ball carrier had to protect the ball from one while trying to stiff arm or otherwise fend off the other.
--During the kickoff return segment the first pair of returners included Boyce and
--Darrius Fleming got some reps at linebacker in a sub package working with
--Logan Ryan continues to get a lot of reps at slot corner, many coming with Revis and Browner. During split-field team work late in practice Ryan was on the field with those players while veteran slot man Arrington was on the other field with younger players.
--One of the biggest plays of the day came on a deep ball down the right side with Brady hitting LaFell for a touchdown. The play beat cornerback
--The defensive front fielded a line that included
--Ninkovich has taken a lot of reps standing on two feet in various sets and schemes to open camp. He does a lot of bumping and re-routing in those looks.
--For what it's worth, the play clock on the field is often reset to 18 seconds after every play and doesn't immediately start running. Not sure the exact thinking behind that altered play clock.
--Open field tackling has also been a regular part of practice each day. Tuesday's drill had a ball carrier and tackler lay on the ground on their backs about three yards apart. They each had to get up on the whistle and run/tackle as soon as possible. It was interesting seeing guys get up at very much varying rates of speed.
--The temperature and sun were probably the most difficult to deal with to date in camp. Some of the bigger guys seemed to get a little worn down as the workout wore on. Belichick did give a number of different water breaks throughout to, as he puts it, "Water 'em."
--Garoppolo threw a pick to Hawkins on a deep ball down the left side that the rookie passer pretty much threw up for grabs.
--During the goal line segment Brady worked on his long, hard counts.
--Mallett tried to roll right for a play in the goal line segment and actually hit
--Practice ended with down-and-distance and hurry up work split into two fields going concurrently.
--Fleming and Halapio did some extra work after practice with offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo, working on their punch together simultaneously with a big dummy.
--The entire defense went to the hill behind the practice field to do conditioning work at the end of the session. The entire offensive line also did conditioning runs together on the main field.
--Those players talking to the media after practice included Rob Gronkowski, Tommy Kelly, Daxton Swanson, Ryan Wendell, Brandon LaFell, Brandon Browner and others.
--The Patriots return to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium Wednesday morning at 9:45 practice that is open to the public.