Check out our favorite photos from Patriots Training Camp on Saturday, August 8, 2015 at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots have truly hit the dog days of camp, and over the last several days those dog days seem to be winning – at least when it comes to the battle of attrition.
Bill Belichick's troops took the field minus 23 players on Saturday afternoon, and the thinning ranks are clearly taking a toll on the team's overall performance. That has been particularly true on offense, where many players have been forced out of action over the first week-plus of camp.
The passing game has been affected greatly with the likes of Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms missing workouts, but lately the same has been true of the running game – both in terms of those with the ball in their hands and those doing the blocking.
LeGarrette Blount left Friday's practice and according to the Boston Globe is dealing with a sprained right MCL. He obviously missed Saturday's work but just as significant has been the sudden loss of those up front. Travaris Cadet came up gimpy during practice and missed the rest of the workout with an apparent leg injury.
Bryan Stork also missed much of Friday's practice, remaining on the field next to offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo but doing so without his helmet the entire time. He was not seen Saturday and that opened the door for a pair of backups – Josh Kline and rookie David Andrews – to step in.
"I always take center/QB snaps every day before practice," Kline said afterward. "You always have to be ready because you never know what's going to happen. It's like a game situation. You never know who's going to go down. If you're the next man in you always have to be ready to go."
Kline has displayed his versatility already in his brief career. He began as a tackle in 2013 and has played guard periodically as well. Now he's adding center to his resume, a spot he manned with the rest of the offense for most of Saturday's action.
"I played all five positions in college," Kline said. "You always have to be versatile so you can show them that you're able to be tool that can be used anywhere."
As for the thinning ranks, Kline said it was simply part of the process.
"Camp's always a grind and you just have to push through it," he added. "You have to try to get better every day and improve. As a team we just have to make sure we keep progressing throughout camp."
That's exactly what Andrews has done. He's been impressive in his ability to man both center and guard spots, the latter of which he said he's never played.
"It's been a learning process from the offseason program to OTAs and just trying to learn as much as I can each day. I'm soaking in as much as I can and working to improve," Andrews said. "I didn't play any in college but that doesn't matter. I'm here now and learning and if they put me at guard I'll do the best I can there and do anything they ask."
It wasn't long ago that Sebastian Vollmer was considered the kid of the offensive line. A second-round choice back in 2008, Vollmer is now the group's elder statesman along with Nate Solder. It's a transformation that the tackle said has gone quickly.
Coming in I had Matt Light and Logan [Mankins] and those guys and I was one of the younger guys," Vollmer said. "Now I'm one of the older guys. It just kind of happens. You just have to keep doing what you've been doing to get to this point and build on it."
Vollmer has seen a rise to his physical reps over the last two days and was in at right tackle during some full team work on Saturday. After practice he got in some extra work with defensive end Zach Moore and he looks closer to full strength.
Vollmer also spent some time after practice with one of his biggest fans. He posed for pictures with 10-year-old Austin McCarthy from South Walpole, Mass. Vollmer is McCarthy's favorite player and he wears his No. 76 while playing right tackle for his fifth grade youth football team.
Hall of Fame weekend has arrived and Junior Seau is among those being honored tonight as part of the six-man class. The late Seau spent parts of four seasons in New England and Belichick was effusive in his praise when asked about the legacy the linebacker left.
"The one word I've always used with Junior is passion," the coach began. "Of all the players I've coached, his passion for the game in every sense of it was exceptional. In the building, in the classroom, on the practice field, around his teammates, in the games, on the sideline – wherever it was – that was I'd say the one thing about Junior that was always exceptional relative to other players.
"I mean, forget about ability and all that, but just his playing style, his true passion for the game, for the game of football. Junior and I personally had a great relationship. I think all of us that interacted with him while he was here feel privileged to have had the opportunity to play with or coach Junior. He was pretty special. Aside from all the accolades that he rightly deserves for his playing ability and production, I'm talking about really all the other things. So, well deserved and we're very proud of his recognition, and I've expressed that to his family on behalf of our organization. We were fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with him."
Buy: Brandon Bolden –Injuries to the running backs have put Bolden is position to get more reps and the veteran seems to be capitalizing. He had the ball in his hands on the first two plays of 11-on-11 work with Tom Brady and the offense, ripping off a nice run off right tackle before catching a short pass and shooting upfield for positive yards on the next play. Bolden could very well be the every-down back in the opener with LeGarrette Blount suspended.
Sell: Travaris Cadet – Cadet has been the most impressive of the candidates for passing back duties but he may have suffered a setback on Saturday when he left practice with an apparent leg injury. Cadet has shown terrific quickness and explosion with the ball in his hands, and if the injury is indeed to his leg those are the types of problems that can linger. Hopefully it was more precautionary and not something that will keep him off the field for an extended period.
Play of the Day – There wasn't much to choose from on Saturday but one of the more noteworthy plays came in the red zone with Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. He tried to throw a quick out toward Jonathan Krause near the goal line but the pass was deflected at the line of scrimmage. Nonetheless the ball still got to Krause, but the wideout couldn't handle it and the pass was bobbled into the air and picked off by Logan Ryan.
The Patriots had an extended list of absentees with 23 players out to start practice and Cadet joining them before the workout was over. Six players remain on PUP (Matthew Slater, Brandon LaFell, Dane Fletcher, Chris White, Ryan Wendell and Chris Jones) and the three on NFI (Matt Flynn, Caylin Hauptmann and Alan Branch). Also, Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Blount, Dion Lewis, Tyler Gaffney, Matthew Wells, Eric Martin, Darius Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Stork, Joe Vellano, Brian Tyms, Scott Chandler and Malcom Brown all missed practice. Dont'a Hightower also remained in his red, non-contact jersey. The only player who missed practice Friday and returned was tight end Jimmay Mundine. … Belichick spent several minutes speaking with the group of officials that were on hand prior to practice. … Ryan Allen appears to be struggling a bit lately. He had a handful of shanked punts over the past two days. … Hightower spent some time riding a stationary bike in between the fields while sitting out the physical portions of practice. … Josh Boyce, Robert McClain, Danny Amendola and James White took reps as kick returners. … The Patriots will be off on Sunday but back at it Monday afternoon with practice getting underway at 1:45 p.m. behind Gillette Stadium. As always please check with Patriots.com for any last-minute updates to the schedule.