Temperatures soared in Foxborough and Bill Belichick decided to turn up the heat on his football team during the 13th practice of training camp – and first without spectators. Belichick upped the mental pressure while his troops dealt with extremely humid conditions, offering up dozens of specific situations that tested his club's mettle.
Free kicks, intentional, safeties, on side kick coverage and countless down-and-distance/specific end of game scenarios were laid out for the team as they trudged through the conditions. Stephen Gostkowski even connected from roughly 63 yards out toward the tail end of the workout.
"It's great to get those situations in," cornerback Tarell Brown said. "It's hot out here … I couldn't even remember the specific play … we went over a lot of situations."
The weather did seem to have an effect on at least one Patriot as Tre' Jackson went down midway through practice and was eventually carted off. The rookie guard had trouble getting to his feet while the medical staff attended to him. It was unclear what the problem was but it appeared to be heat related. He did not return.
Check out our favorite photos from Patriots Training Camp on Monday, August 17, 2015 at Gillette Stadium
Here are one man's blogservations from Monday afternoon's workout in steamy Foxborough.
-The Patriots once again had a sizable contingent either missing practice or being relegated to conditioning work only. Darryl Roberts, Bryan Stork, Rufus Johnson, Joe Vellano, Trey Flowers and Jake Bequette all missed practice, while Julian Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Travaris Cadet and Scott Chandler suited up but were relegated to mostly conditioning work on the lower field. In addition, the PUP (Brandon LaFell, Ryan Wendell, Dane Fletcher and Chris Jones) and NFI lists (Caylin Hauptmann) remained unchanged. Hauptmann joined the latter group running on the lower field.
-There was some good news on the injury front as Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon returned to full-contact action while James White, Dekoda Watson and Logan Ryan all returned after missing Saturday's practice. Ryan's absence was due to the birth of his child.
-There was an interesting sight in the Patriots backfield as LeGarrette Blount donned No. 74 during practice. No word as to why he wore an offensive lineman's number but Blount continued to impress as both a ball carrier and even as an occasional pass catcher.
-Gostkowski's precision was on display early in practice when he warmed up. Using a field-goal kicking tee, Gostkowski swung just his right leg from 30 yards out and nailed the crossbar with three straight kicks. He finally missed on his fourth try, knocking it just over. It's amazing to watch how the kickers control the ball as if they're throwing it.
-Speaking of controlled kicks, Ryan Allen was working on some extreme plus-50 punts at the same time. Kicking from roughly the 35-yard line, Allen boomed a few that landed inside the 5 that stopped dead without bouncing into the end zone. Obviously he would be kicking from that distance too often if at all but it was impressive nonetheless.
-Rookie Jimmay Mundine was active early on working in some half-field passing drills. The tight end made several grabs between the hashes and enjoyed his best day of camp overall.
-With Solder back in the mix the offensive line began with him, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline, Jackson and Sebastian Vollmer. When Jackson left Kline moved the right guard while rookie David Andrews went to center. Chris Barker also took reps at right guard as Kline moved back to center later in practice. Cannon saw action as an extra tight end as well as both tackle spots throughout the day.
-The secondary continues to feature interesting looks that are heavy on safeties. Malcolm Butler and Brown were joined by Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and Tavon Wilson in dime looks with McCourty and Butler lining up wide as the corners with Brown in the slot. ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss, who takes a much more cerebral approach to these things than I do, opined that perhaps the recent corner looks for McCourty are game-plan related for the Steelers or another early-season opponent. Whatever the specific reason it's worth noting.
-Former Rutgers and Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano was on hand watching practice, speaking with Mike Lombardi on the field.
-The heat got to Mason at one point as the offense was working on a specific situation that called for some discipline and the rookie jumped, drawing the ire of Tom Brady. Mason took a penalty lap for the false start penalty.
-Jimmy Garoppolo continues to make some tentative throws periodically in camp but one play he seems to have down is the wheel route down the sideline to his running back. He tossed a perfect one to Brandon Bolden today for a big gain during a late-game hurry-up drill.
-One of the many situations Belichick created was having the offense break the huddle on a fourth down and attempting to draw the defense offside. Using various voice inflections and putting several players in motion before demonstratively moving from the shotgun to under center, Brady could not get his defensive teammates to crack.
-James Develin had some trouble handling squib kicks late in practice, having the ball bounce of his hands on consecutive attempts. Robert McCalin bailed him out on the first one by diving on the ball and Danny Amendola was there to grab the second one after it deflected off the fullback.
-Brady and Belichick spent about 10 minutes talking after practice in the far end zone where the offensive linemen normally do their work. Brady departed down the hill after the discussion.
-At the same time Garoppolo was seen on the lower field continuing his work. It was tough to see who he was with, but the backup was clearly continuing his practice.
-Belichick had the players finish the lengthy practice with some conditioning work on the hill. That task could not have been an easy one on this sweltering afternoon.
-Tarell Brown, Nate Solder, Brian Tyms, Rob Gronkowski and Jonas Gray were among those speaking with the media after practice.
-The Patriots will practice in Foxborough Tuesday morning before departing for White Sulpher Springs, W.Va., in the afternoon. The practice will once again be closed to the public. They will work out with the Saints on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before the teams' preseason game in New Orleans on Saturday.