The Patriots enjoyed their first day off of on Tuesday after five straight practices to open training camp. Over the course of the first week, the defense appeared to get the better of things more consistently than the offense but there were plenty of positives to be found at all levels.
The weekend saw the team strap on the pads for the first time of the 2018 season and there was some solid physicality on display. Up front the big guys got after each other in both team action and one-on-one drills while the skill players also did plenty of work against one another.
Overall the secondary performed well, as did the offensive line with newcomer Trent Brown sticking out with his massive frame and uncommon athleticism for a man his size.
But those were by no means the only things that stuck out. Through five training camp sessions, here are five players who popped at practice.
1. Stephon Gilmore
The corner is off to an excellent start, demonstrating excellent cover skills against a variety of receivers. He looks like he's picking up where he left off last season and is comfortable in his role as the No. 1 cornerback.
2. Rex Burkhead
Burkhead was productive in limited action a year ago, scoring eight touchdowns in just 10 games. But the problem has been durability as injuries have hampered him throughout his career. He looks healthy, quick and fast on the practice field and has been by far the team's most impressive back.
3. Trent Brown
At 6-8, 380, it would be hard to miss Brown anytime he's on the field. But watching the mammoth tackle pull outside to help lead Burkhead to the end zone on a goal line run over the weekend was quite impressive. His quick feet will serve him well at left tackle.
4. Deatrich Wise
The second-year defensive end has been as active as any defender so far. He's put pressure on the passer, contained the running game, batted down passes and been a disruptive force. He looks like the Year 2 jump is in full swing.
5. Kyle Van Noy
The linebacker has shown more athleticism thus far in camp than we remember seeing a year ago, covering backs effectively out in space on more than one occasion. Coverage from the linebacker spot was a major problem a year ago, and if Van Noy has improved in that area it could be a huge plus for the defense.