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PFW's latest Patriots OTA blogservations

Posted Jun 5, 2014

Check out the latest from the rainy Patriots OTA practice action in Foxborough.

The media got its second chance to watch a Patriots OTA workout on Thursday, New England’s sixth session overall over the last two weeks.

The workout lasted one hour and 45 minutes. It took place in rainy, wet, slippery, cool conditions. Players once again wore shorts/sweats and helmets, but no jerseys.

The biggest news of the day in the dreary conditions was that Jimmy Garoppolo -- the second-round rookie quarterback who missed last Friday’s action in front of the media while in attendance of the NFLPA’s Rookie Premier in L.A. -- was on the field and working out with his offensive teammates.

Once again, specific, hard-and-fast observations were rather difficult from a full practice field away in the wet conditions without the benefit of jersey numbers, but here are one man’s views from afar:

--A rough count found 81 players on the practice field during pre-practice stretching and form running. That was 40 players in blue/defense – and 41 in gray/offense. Guys not on the field last Friday who were seen on Thursday included Logan Mankins, Garoppolo and Brandon LaFell.

--Those players not spotted at all included Aaron Dobson, Alfonzo Dennard, Dominique Easley and Cameron Fleming. Though that’s not by any means an exhaustive list.

--Once again a group of players took part in stretching and running before leaving to work in the Dana-Farber Field House with the medical staff. That included Rob Gronkowski, Tommy Kelly, Nate Solder, Vince Wilfork, Brandon Bolden and others.

--Working with wet balls was clearly a big part of the day. Not surprising that Bill Belichick didn’t move the workout inside, as he rarely does. Obviously in New England the team needs to be well prepared for bad-weather conditions. That process began today. There were times when that seemed an issue, with quarterbacks’ passes airing wild or receivers struggling to haul in the tosses. The running backs worked out in front of the media early in practice and really struggled to catch the ball. Bolden was one of the worst offenders. A wheel route bounced off his hands/head and then a swing pass zipped right through his mitts. But he was by no means the only player with problems catching. Julian Edelman dropped an easy touchdown later in practice while Danny Amendola was among the many others with wet ball problems.

--Then entirety of the defense had to run a punishment lap around the practice field at one point late in practice. Belichick then called the unit together to apparently discuss his displeasure with the group before practice continued.

--Last Friday Stevan Ridley wore florescent green cleats that really stood out for the OTA workout. Thursday the running back had bright red/orange/yellow shoes that almost brightened the area around his feet on the dark day. Not hard finding No. 22, even without a jersey with that number on it, thanks to his choice in footwear.

--Kickoff and kickoff return was the special teams area of focus. That saw Josh Boyce, Reggie Dunn and Roy Finch take the bulk of the returns. All three have the impressive speed for the role, even though not much can be assessed in non-contact OTA work.

--Finch certainly stands out from the crowd. He’s the shortest guy on the field, but also has a pretty impressive physique that he shows off with cut-off sleeves. He’s very quick and athletic. As others have pointed out, whether he makes the team or not he’s the type of athlete who’ll likely put on a show and impress fans during preseason action.

--Stephen Gostkowski finished practice with some field goals in the rain. The kicks were in the direction perpendicular to the media, so hard to tell his success rate. Looked pretty good from afar and to the side! The kicker actually spends much of these workouts catching punts for Ryan Allen. The former college pitcher and well-rounded athlete did a pretty impressive job hauling in the punts Thursday in the wet conditions.

--Long snapper Danny Aiken did his best to keep the balls dry for his snaps to Allen by keeping what looked to be three or four balls under his shirt. The pregnant-looking long snapper would then give birth to the ball next used by he and Tyler Ott.

--As was the case last week, every move, snap, throw and play by the quarterbacks was filmed by a close-up camera on the field.

--There was a lot of situational work in the practice, including red zone and two-minute.

--Tom Brady threw a pair of interceptions in team action late in practice while Garoppolo threw one. For his part, Ryan Mallett had a couple really bad incompletions in the drill. May have been as tough a day to throw the ball as it was to catch it.

--Brady threw an incompletion over and out the back of the end zone in the team action late. This drew pretty good celebration by the entirety of the defense as there was clearly some competitive fire despite the non-contact action taking place in pretty dismal weather.

--There were some ball security drills late in practice in which ball careers had to fend off would-be tacklers from behind trying to strip the ball free.

--Amendola was among a number of players who had trouble with the wet, slippery footing. The receiver feel down pretty hard during some group work late.

--As was the case last week, the workout concluded with conditioning sprints on the hill behind the far practice field as the team builds its fitness level heading toward training camp.

--Post-practice interviews were moved inside Gillette Stadium in the visitors’ locker room due to the rain. Those players taking part in the meeting with the media included Brandon LaFell, Julian Edelman, Stevan Ridley, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty and others.

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