The Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium Friday morning for the second day of training camp, the second day mandated to be held without shoulder pads.
Unlike the prior day’s hot, sunny start to camp, this session took place under a light, consistent rain and with temperatures in the high 70s.
The taste of bad weather was something that Bill Belichick made it quite clear he was happy to see as a teaching tool at this early stage in the process.
“Hopefully today the weather holds, gives us a good opportunity to work in some inclement weather, which we can always use, so that’ll be good,” Belichick said in his morning, pre-practice press conference.
Beyond the weather the news of the day in Foxborough revolved around Jamie Collins returned from what his head coach described as an “excused” absence that was “no issue.”
Also of note was the fact that a frustrated Tom Brady threw his helmet to the ground is rage-filled disgust late in the practice after having a side-arm short pass batted down by a ball boy using a tennis racquet. The helmet hit the ground with enough force to send some of the internal pads flying across the grass, leaving Brady to try to reassemble the headwear as he walked to the next practice station. The outburst also came a few minutes after Brady threw an interception in the red zone with Duron Harmon hauling in a pass intended for Keshawn Martin.
Overall, it was a competitive day – at least as competitive as it can be without pads – as the Patriots took another small step toward stringing together productive days of work this summer.
Here are one man’s blogservations from the dry, at times not-so-friendly confines of the media tent in Foxborough:
View a collection of the best images from Patriots Training Camp in Foxborough on Friday, July 29, 2016.
--Nate Washington was on the field but did not bring his helmet to practice and did not take part in the drills. This came after the veteran receiver was vomiting on the field during the first practice of camp after eating some food that did not agree with him.
--Shaq Mason was on the field to start practice after being removed from PUP a day earlier. But the second-year guard later was absent from the action and didn’t appear to take part in much if any group or team work at any point.
--Julian Edelman (foot), Dion Lewis (knee), Tre’ Jackson (knee), Clay Harbor, Danny Amendola (knee/ankle) and Sebastian Vollmer (ankle) remain on PUP. All but Lewis and Jackson were once again seen on the field during the practice. Today Edelman and Amendola did full sprints together on The Hill by the practice field at one point during the workout. Amendola also played catch with Brady at one point between drills. The two receivers don’t seem to be too limited in their movements at this point.
--Alan Branch (reported hip) remains on NFI but was on the field watching.
--Harmon and Logan Ryan continue to wear red, non-contact jerseys.
--During pre-practice work with the quarterbacks taking snaps behind an offensive line, Brady worked with David Andrews, Jimmy Garoppolo with Bryan Stork and Jacoby Brissett with Ted Karras.
--Edelman got a big cheer from the smaller but still impressive crowd when he arrived on the field. A Brady chant erupted from the crowd for the second straight day, although it appeared to be enticed and urged on by one of the training camp hawkers.
--Strangely, while Edelman and Amendola seem to do almost everything together on and off the field – including internet videos – they were on far opposite ends of the field during pre-practice stretching/form running.
--Brady led the way on offensive side of the form running for just about every rep.
--The defensive backs worked on protecting their legs by stopping a large orange ball rolled by coach Steve Belichick in early practice group action.
--At that same time the defensive linemen worked on hitting a one-man sled, with Jabaal Sheard in particular hitting the overmatched sled with power and dismissively throwing it to the turf impressively.
--The safeties did a drill on the sideline where they worked on batting/deflecting a loose fumble back to a teammate in the field of play. Curiously, defensive end Trey Flowers took part in the drill with the rest of the defensive backs.
--Though Washington didn’t take part the workout, he was put use holding the tennis racquet paddles to distract his teammates during a couple wide receiver drills.
--Director of Player personnel Nick Caserio got some work in as a quarterback throwing to the wide receivers in drills, which is normal for the former John Carroll quarterback this time of year.
--Devin Lucien has shown inconsistent hands to this point in the spring/summer, but he made a number of nice catches in the rainy conditions on Friday in both drills and group work.
--While most players wear shorts, spandex or sweats, Elandon Roberts and Cedric Thompson prefer wearing actual practice pants on the field to this point.
--For whatever it’s worth, the linebackers have really struggled to catch the football in their group drills in practice. They give a new meaning working on their pass drops.
--James Develin continues to work with the tight ends through group and positional work in practice. Develin had a nice touchdown catch in the flat in group work. He was also part of an intriguing formation in the red zone with Rob Gronkowski in the slot and Develin lined up wide. Sadly, the throw went to Gronkowski. But it would still be a fun formation in game action.
--Early group work seemed to focus on the running game despite the lack of pads. Quarterbacks worked on handoffs with the running backs. Then the groups worked on the ground game with a scout defense holding pads for blocking.
--The defensive backs and receivers worked in group action together on the goal line in one segment. The defenders got the better of the drill in dominant fashion, with Brissett having to throw the ball away a handful of times in a row. It was so bad, one veteran reporter wondered if the rookie quarterback wasn’t actually supposed to try to throw the ball to a receiver. But he was.
--Worth noting in the drill, with Brissett in the shotgun taking snaps from a ball boy, there seemed to be a few intentional bad snaps mixed in to make the quarterback work a little harder. Those are the little things that can pay off in the long run.
--The punt team was the focus in special teams segments on the day, though that also afforded the returners to get plenty of reps in for the scout team. Belichick spent a lot of time watching over and coaching Cyrus Jones in drill work. V’Angelo Bentley, DeAndre Carter and Martin also took reps.
--There was a new twist on the open field tackling drill that occurs in the middle of every practice. Today had basically three fluorescent discs in a triangle. Two defenders and a receiver start at the top disc. At the snap one would-be tackler and the receiver go toward one disc where the reception is made, while the other defender trails and heads toward the other disc to, theoretically, help make the tackle downfield.
--Another note in the drill, veteran blocking tight end Bear Pascoe was set to take a turn as a receiver in the drill before he was removed in favor of rookie running back D.J. Foster. It would seem that the veteran’s career resume of just 40 catches in 85 games is well known, even in terms of allowing him to catch the ball in a simple practice drill.
--For the punt team Matthew Slater and Kamu Grugier-Hill worked as the first group of gunners. They were followed by Jonathan Jones and Justin Coleman then E.J. Biggers. Jordan Richards worked as the personal protector followed by Vinnie Sunseri.
--PFW has been calling the time Brady spends with certain receivers off to the side during special teams segments the Hall of Fame drill. The roots of the name come from when it was work done by Brady, Gronkowski and Darrelle Revis. Friday, the group expanded to include both Brady and Garoppolo as well Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett and…wait for it…Bryce Williams.
--Chris Hogan continues to be a very active part of the offense this spring and summer in the absence of Edelman and Amendola. He also continues to show somewhat inconsistent hands. He seems to mix a few drops in each day to go along with otherwise very solid work.
--Brandon King stripped Brandon Bolden in 7-on-7 in the red zone after the running back’s reception. In the same drill, LeGarrette Blount beat Collins in coverage for a touchdown.
--While he may not see them on his radar come Week 5, Brady hit Foster and Steven Scheau for touchdowns in the red zone 7-on-7 work.
--Another new tackling drill included pass-catchers running wide on swing routes where they would break down behind a wall of three large tackling dummies before cutting to one side or the other of the trio of blue blockers. Conversely, the defenders would mirror the receiver to break down behind the bags before meeting the ball carrier after they made their cut. Certainly helps the would-be tacklers prepare for the many swing passes and screens they’ll see in the coming weeks from the Patriots offense each day on the practice field.
--Dan Kraft, member of the Patriots Board of Directors, watched the second half of the practice from between the two fields with his son.
--Harbor ran sprints on the off field at one point under the eye of a member of the team’s medical staff. It looked like he might be preparing for the conditioning run which would be a precursor to his return to practice action from PUP.
--Loud music played during the punt and field goal segments of practice. Can’t recall the Patriots using the music for special teams in the past at practice, though it makes sense. The personal protector needs to make calls at the line – to teammates with their backs turned to him – in loud road environments almost like a quarterback would.
--Ryan had a tough day, including getting toasted by Hogan for a red zone touchdown in 7-on-7. Of course Hogan later had a drop in the drill.
--Brady made a couple real nice throws to spots in the red zone work, although that led up to the interception by Harmon.
--Garoppolo hit Chris Harper for a nice long reception down the left sideline in the drill, although the young receiver may have gotten away with a push-off.
--Garoppolo also had a nice touchdown throw to Bennett in the middle of the end zone, the tight end making an impressive, jumping catch with strong hands in traffic.
--During 11-on-11 action veteran newcomer Markus Kuhn got reps on the defensive line next to Malcom Brown. At the same time Justin Coleman took the slot corner reps with Malcolm Butler and Ryan.
--Brady spent time in the group work late in practice well behind the action down on one knee and his hand supporting hit head in the Thinker pose. He seemed to be very much lost in thought and not necessarily watching the action at hand with Garoppolo under center.
--During the 11-on-11 work the first offensive line to take reps was, from left to right, Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Jonathan Cooper and Marcus Cannon. At one point both Thuney and Cannon had to take a penalty lap.
--Music played and Belichick squirted holder Ryan Allen a couple times as Stephen Gostkowski took his field goal reps to close out practice.
--The entire team then did conditioning work on The Hill afterwards.
--Players meeting with the media for interviews after practice included Collins, Bennett, Rob Ninkovich, Dont’a Hightower, Brissett and others.
--The Patriots return to practice on Saturday morning at 9:15, a session that’s expected to take place in full pads that is open to the public.