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Blogservations: Patriots heat up in return to practice action

New England puts in some good work despite the high temperatures.

Bill Belichick and the Patriots returned to the practice fields Sunday afternoon behind Gillette Stadium for the first time since Thursday night's preseason opener against the Saints.

Prior to the practice the coach indicated that the day's work would be a "really a big day for us in terms of installation, getting some things caught up on the install that we haven't put in that we need. We need to grind it out here and have another good week."

The session in shorts, shells and helmets was the team's lone solo practice this week prior to welcoming the Bears to town for joint sessions Monday through Wednesday leading up to Thursday night's second exhibition game in Foxborough.

Beyond just installation and catching up, Sunday also clearly offered a chance for players to continue to work on their conditioning under hot, sunny skies with "feels like" temperatures getting just north of 100 degrees.

Through the two-plus hour workout -- which had a high tempo despite the lack of full pads -- many players had to take a few seconds to gather themselves between reps and drills, many going down to one knee or bending in obvious fatigue with regularity.

But all seemed to make it through one of the clear dog days of summer type workouts, with a nod to the defensive linemen who actually did conditioning work as a unit on The Hill on the far corner of the fields after practice had officially wrapped up.

View a collection of the best images from Patriots Training Camp practice in Foxborough on Sunday, August 14, 2016.

Beyond the overbearing heat, here are one man's blogservations from the sweaty media tent which offered reprieve from the sun but blocked out any potential breeze:

--After a couple days off, the PUP list for New England remains the same with Dion Lewis (knee), Sebastian Vollmer, Tre' Jackson (knee) and Danny Amendola (knee/ankle). Only Amendola was on the field, actually wearing his jersey for the first time on the field in a few days though he did not do anything of note other than watch.

--Those players not seen on the field included Malcolm Mitchell (elbow), Nate Ebner, Bryce Williams, Jonathan Cooper and Jabaal Sheard.


--Rob Ninkovich (triceps), Donald Brown (hamstring) and D.J. Foster were on the field in jerseys to open practice but did not take part. Ninkovich ran sprints by himself on the Revs lower practice field.

--While Logan Ryan remained in the red, non-contact jersey, both Jonathan Freeny and Chris Hogan returned to their traditional practice shirts. Neither guy was on the field for Thursday's preseason game, so it will be interesting to see if they take part fully in what will likely be full-pads, more physical practices this week with Chicago.

--New England released undrafted rookie offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson earlier in the day to make room for Ebner, who is returning from Olympic rugby play, on the 90-man roster. Ebner was not seen on the practice field, but when asked if the special teams ace was back with the team Belichick said, "He will be."

--Belichick was a little late to the practice field, arriving well after his players were into their usual pre-practice action. Upon arrival he spent a pretty long time speaking with first-year team medical director Mark Price.

--Former Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien was a visitor on the field for the practice. A noted outdoorsman, he wore jeans and cowboy boots despite the oppressive heat. He caught up with many of his former players and coaching mates. He got hugs from Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater.

--The first line group to take drills in the opening of practice, and then get reps in the same unit the rest of the day was, from left to right, Nate Solder, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon. The next group, again from left to right, was LaAdrian Waddle, Ted Karras, Josh Kline, John Halapio and Cameron Fleming.

--Five players worked on center snaps prior to practice. Andrews snapped to Tom Brady, Bryan Stork to Jimmy Garoppolo, Kline to assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, Karras to Jacoby Brissett and Thuney to offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. In the drill work it's funny to watch Scarnecchia, the aging legendary assistant coach, carry out the same pre- and post-snap signals/footwork as the rest of the quarterbacks.

--Chris Long must really enjoy sweating. The veteran defensive lineman wore a hooded sweatshirt, albeit with the sleeves cut off, under his shells. Other players, including Malcom Brown, wore long sleeves despite the heat.

--Chad O'Shea remains a very hands-on coach with the receivers. He spent a lot of time in positional work using a paddle to distract his receivers on their receptions. In one footwork drill with the players chopping their fast feet around cones O'Shea actually collided with Chris Harper. The man earns his coaching paycheck, that's for sure.

--There was a relatively small but vocal crowd in attendance, showing practice support despite the heat. At one point a group in the bleachers changed "Free Tom Brady." Later, the same section got an "Edelman" chant going.

--Rookie Cyrus Jones had another practice in which he muffed a couple punts. He dropped one in early drill work and then muffed another in team action. After the latter, Jones threw the ball in the air and punched it out of apparent frustration.

--James Develin was a talking point on the day, with both Belichick and Brady being asked questions about one of the NFL's best fullbacks. He continued his versatility in practice action. Early on he worked with the tight ends. He was split wide at times in team action. And, he took his usual spot first in line for special teams tackling drills.

--What PFW likes to refer to as the Hall of Fame drill - quarterbacks and pass catchers working on the side field during special teams action on the main field - consisted of Brady, Garoppolo and Brissett with Rob Gronkowski, although Martellus Bennett was a late addition.

--During punt return work Jones, V'Angelo Bentley and Julian Edelman got their work in. Edelman made a number of nice jump cuts in the action, showing seemingly no physical limitations.

--Slater, Brandon King, Jonathan Jones and Kamu Grugier-Hill worked as gunners in the punt action.

--During one portion of punt work kicker Stephen Gostkowski took a pair of reps booting the ball. Both were quality punts.

--Nate Washington beat Ryan for a long gain down the left side early in 11-on-11 action. It was the first of three deep balls that Washington caught on the day, by far his best practice of the summer since returning from missing time after vomiting on the field on the first day of camp. Washington beat Ryan twice and Malcolm Butler once for long gains. There were a couple times, though, on sideline balls that he and Brady did not seem to be on the same page, as they say. Washington looks like he still has the wheels to get open, but it will be interesting to see if he builds a rapport with Brady, and Garoppolo, as he works to win a roster spot.

--Tyler Gaffney took another pop as he ran through the line on a running play despite the lack of pads. Today it was Ramon Humber who hit the back, who's also taken hits from Vinnie Sunseri in similar situations in which the proper tempo is tough to judge by players on both sides of the ball.

--Brady probably had his worst practice of the summer. A number of his passes fell incomplete, many well off target. Besides his failure to align with Washington, he had a couple balls toward Bennett that were nowhere near complete.

--Garoppolo had his own issues. One throw went over Bennett's head for an easy interception for the waiting Jordan Richards. Bennett appeared to stop running on the route, but that did not have a bearing on the play as he was never going to get a hand on it, and if he did it would only have batted it in the air to add to the possibility of the pick.

--Cyrus Jones rode the stationary bike between fields at one point when not in during team action.

--Bennett was one of the players that seemed to really feel the heat. At one point after running a route down the field he took so long to get back to the line of scrimmage and off to the sideline that the next play was already lined up and about to be snapped.

--It wasn't all good for Washington, as he jumped for a false start penalty in 11-on-11 action. He went with the illegal movement and just kept right on running down the field for his penalty lap.

--Defensive lineman Anthony Johnson had to run a lap for an offsides call.

--There was an interesting grouping switch at the cornerback position during 11-on-11 work. Jonathan Jones worked at left cornerback opposite Ryan to open most drills in the team action, while Butler worked with the next group on the left side opposite Cre'Von LeBlanc.

--Up front Trey Flowers got reps at right defensive end opposite Long, a spot that generally sees a lot of Shea McClellin. Of course that's with Ninkovich and Sheard absent from the action on Sunday.

--Garoppolo had to hold the ball way too long during 11-on-11 action on a couple snaps. At one point he seemed unhappy with the routes that some of his receivers ran and told them about it as they returned to the huddle.

--Gostkowski worked on his field goals by himself for a while on the side field. The kicker had to yell, "Fore" as one kick went into the friends and family area.

--Gronkowski had one really bad drop on what should have been an easy reception on a crossing route. That's been a surprisingly consistent practice note seemingly most days this summer.

--James White lined up split wide right and easily torched Patrick Chung for a quick inside/slant route in 11-on-11 action.

--Brady threw a terrible deep ball down the right side, failing to connect with Washington after he'd beaten Ryan yet again.

--Brandon Bolden had a bad drop of his own on a slant in team action. His hands have been very inconsistent this summer as well.

--Brady and Garoppolo spent some time with their favorite receiver, the garbage can, for the bucket drill after practice. Brady discussed the drill after practice. "You just put the bucket out there, and that little sucker is tough to hit, man. It doesn't move, it's got no arms, it can't adjust to anything. That's why I'm glad we always have guys that have great hands and really attract the ball. It's just good practice."

--The safeties did some extra conditioning running after practice, including position coach Steve Belichick.

--Brady and Devin McCourty were among the Patriots who met with the media after practice.

--The Patriots will return to the practice field at 1:30 p.m. on Monday for the first of three joint practice sessions with the Bears that are open to the public. As always, check for any potential schedule changes.

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