While the nearly two-and-a-half-hour practice wasn’t the most physical we’ve seen, there were periods when plenty of contact was seen. The Patriots predictably spent more time on the running game, including some late goal-line action, and also conducted a lot of individual drills pitting offense against defense. Overall it was a rather spirited practice with some good moments for each side.
That said, here are one man’s observations from the team’s third practice of training camp:
-The Patriots remained without the same six players who have missed practice thus far. Wide receivers
-Rookie wide receiver
-With the pads on, the one-on-one drills kicked off in earnest on Sunday. The wide receivers and defensive backs had several spirited battles with members of each group having their moments.
-Early in practice the punters were taking direct snaps from
-Sticking with Talib, it was interesting to hear the cover talk favorably about Dobson and Thompkins following practice. Both rookies did a nice job of getting off the line against the physical press style that is omnipresent during these drills, and Talib was impressed. “That’s something you either have or you don’t and they have it” was how Talib put it.
-Fans were treated to a few guests at practice. Long-time favorite Troy Brown was on the field throughout the session and interacted with several players and coaches. Usually when a former player takes in practice he does so from in between the fields. However, Brown was actively involved on the field at times, spending several moments talking with Amendola before a drill. Brown looks to be in fighting shape, by the way. Wonder if he’s planning a comeback given the lack of proven depth at wide receiver.
-Also, former tight end Christian Fauria was in the media tent watching practice. Fauria will be part of the new broadcast team for Patriots preseason games this summer, joining Dan Roche and Matt Chatham. Incidentally, Andy Hart and I also will be part of the new team as we unveil some changes to the coverage this summer.
-Brady worked on his throwing mechanics at one point with equipment assistant John Jastremski holding his left shoulder in while throwing. Perhaps the quarterback was concerned about his front shoulder opening too soon and wanted to nip any potential flaw in the bud.
-The special teams work consisted of the kickoff team. McCourty,
-The first team period saw an offensive line consisting of, from left to right,
-During that same period the defense featured an interesting wrinkle when switching to the nickel. Dont’a Hightower came off the field while Dennard replaced him and Arrington moved from outside on the right into the slot. Hightower is considered an active, athletic linebacker with the versatility to rush the passer and drop into coverage but he left the field while
Also of note, McCourty worked with Tavon Wilson at safety during a team period while
-Ridley had some trouble holding onto the football on Sunday and ran a pair of laps as a result. The first came on a play where he appeared to run the wrong way, causing an awkward handoff exchange from Brady. The ball popped in the air and was recovered by
-There have been some different drills seen thus far in camp and we saw a couple more on Sunday. The first featured a slight twist of the normal strip drill where a defender tries to pry the ball away from a ball carrier. Instead of simply trying to hold the ball, the runners were instructed to “stumble” forward and put their off hand to the ground to maintain their balance while also keeping the ball tucked tight to the body. Oftentimes a stumbling runner tends to hold the ball away from his body and thus offers a perfect opportunity from a defender to knock it loose.
The second new drill came when receivers caught short flips from running backs, split through a pair of coaches/ball boys slamming them with blocking pads and then going one-on-one in the open field on a defender. Collins came up with a big play when he stripped tight end
-Despite the fumble, Fells continues to build on a solid start to camp. Andy has taken to calling him “The Big Smooth” (and I can’t disagree) based on the effortless way he seems to get open and catch the ball. He did so often again on Sunday, a day after Belichick praised him for his strong work this spring.
-While Dobson has opened eyes with some strong days to open camp, his fellow rookie draft pick Josh Boyce hasn’t been as visible. On Sunday, however, he turned in a terrific play by snaring a deep ball behind rookie corner
-During a late team period, the offense featured a four-receiver look (two-by-two) with
-Goal-line work is always a camp highlight and Sunday was no exception. Going against a defense that included a front of
-Gostkowski got some field goal work in late in practice and appeared to hit on five of his seven attempts. It was tell to tell with any certainty from our vantage point but he appeared to miss from about 36 yards from the right hash and later from 47 yards. He five connections came from between 30-44 yards.
-Practice closed with three two-minute drills as Brady and Mallett operated simultaneously on each field. Brady hit on short throws to Amendola and
Tebow followed Brady and appeared to be going nowhere after a short hookup with Hoomanawanui and a bad incompletion following another lengthy scramble. After two Ridley runs Tebow looked deep and found Thompkins for a touchdown down the left sideline, drawing a huge roar from the crowd.
-The Patriots will be back at it tomorrow night inside Gillette Stadium for a practice that is open to season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents only. It is a ticketed event, therefore only those with the proper ticket will be allowed inside to watch the workout, which is set to run from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Those of you looking to head to Foxborough but do not have tickets might want to be on hand for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for Tedy Bruschi and Gil Santos, which are set to begin at 5 p.m. in the plaza outside The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.