Come September Darrelle Revis will be making life tough on quarterbacks facing the Patriots.
Right now, though, the Pro Bowl cornerback is giving problems to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and his New England offensive teammates on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium.
During Thursday morning's training camp session that included a pick-six interception of a Brady throw in a team drill that had the New England offense trying to work its way off the goal line in a team segment. A throw intended for Kenbrell Thompkins crossing the field hit Revis' hands and ended up as a touchdown for a boisterous blue-clad New England defense.
Afterwards, Brady talked about having to face his team's offseason cornerback additions – Revis and Brandon Browner – on a daily basis.
"They're both great players, so when you make a mistake, they make you pay, and I think that's the mark of a really good corner," Brady said. "As a quarterback, you're always trying to find the weak link in the defense, and neither of those guys are weak links. Sometimes, we've got to go after them, [and] we've got to try to see if we can make a play. But like I said, if you miss a little bit, they end making the play. It's great work for us, and you understand what you're up against."
The offense was actually up against a pretty fired up New England defense all morning during the seventh practice of camp, the fifth straight in full pads. That unit has been pretty physical to date this summer and has also been pretty vocal after it makes a play. That includes a unified, "Hell, no, we won't go" chant that the defenders do while pumping their fists in unison after a big play. The group broke the chant out during one goal line rep in which Rob Ninkovich, Devin McCourty and others stuffed a run off right tackle.
It was the second day in a row that the physical, emotional defensive was the story of the workout. Brady acknowledged that his defensive counterparts have been fueling spirited workouts over the last couple days.
"Yeah, there are a lot of competitions out there, so every drill, a coach pits the offense against the defense, and when we review the film at night there's one side that's getting praise and the other side is getting the opposite," Brady summarized. "You want to be the one who gets praised all the time, but in situations like this, it all kind of balances out. The defense makes a lot of good plays out there and we make our fair share. Hopefully when we play a different opponent, both of us are clicking the way we need to."
Special teams captain Matthew Slater was removed from the physically-unable-to-perform list and hit the field for the first time. The veteran had been limited to rehab working on the sidelines during the first six practices off camp. He spent his first day of practice doing some drills with assistant special teams coach Joe Judge but was not a full participant in kicking game action.
"It's a joy to be back on the field with my teammates," Slater said. "Real thankful to be back out there and back to football and having fun again."
Slater, like most injured guys, said it's not fun to have to watch his teammates practice without him.
"It was very tough. Very frustrating," Slater said. "Lot of emotions that come along with that. I just thank God to bringing me to this point and allowing me to get on the field today.
"I got a lot of ground to make up to get even with the other guys."
The White stuff
!Rookie fourth-round running back James White has been quite impressive through the first week of camp action. The youngster has made plays in the running game, passing game and kicking game so far this summer.
Of course getting noticed by fans and media for his practice work is one thing. Impressing Brady is another.
"He's done a great job since he's got here. He's got a real maturity for someone who is just getting out of college," Brady raved of White. "He's made a lot of really great plays out here. We're all trying to work to get better, and we're all trying to make improvements. We can all do it. The young players need to come out here and keep working hard, and he's one of those guys who has been out here every day so he's been able to do that. He's been able to make a mistake, get the correction, come out again and not make the mistake the next day, so it's been great."
The Patriots will hold a night practice inside Gillette Stadium on Friday night, a ticketed event for season ticket members. The players will then be off on Saturday and the team will travel to Washington on Sunday in advance of joint practices with the Redskins that begin on Monday and lead up to next Thursday night's preseason opener.
With five days of pounding against themselves in pads, the Patriots are clearly ready to get to work against another color next week.
"I know the guys are looking forward to getting a chance to go down there and compete," Slater said. "When you work in those type of settings usually they are very beneficial. It will be good for our team to get a look against some really good competition, what should be a well-coached, young explosive football team. We look forward to that opportunity."
Love for Law
Revis isn't the first elite cornerback that Brady has had to deal with on the practice field. Ty Law used to make life tough on No. 12 back in the day and the quarterback had some high praise for his former teammate on the eve of Law's induction into the Hall at Patriot Place Presented by Raytheon.
"It's really cool how the Hall of Fame has evolved over the last few years, and some really great players have been in there," Brady said. "And Ty is one of the best that I've ever played against. He had a great, unique play style, and he's another guy who really made quarterbacks pay. He was really a playmaker, and I had a lot of experience going up against him when I was younger, and he made a lot of plays for us in big games. It's cool to see him go in. He's been around quite a bit, so I've always kept in touch with him, and it'll be really cool to see on Friday night."
Buy – Darrelle Revis: The veteran cornerback has lived up to his resume and reputation in his first week of practice in New England. His pick-six on Thursday was just one of his handful of interceptions in practice this week. He's shut down receivers with regularity, including Julian Edelman. Revis is living up to the hype.
Sell – Dan Connolly: The veteran guard missed a day of practice on Tuesday, reportedly for personal reasons. Marcus Cannon filled in at right guard that day and has remained in that spot the last two workouts. Connolly has been working at center the last two days. The idea of Cannon sliding in to guard has been bandied about the last couple years and Connolly's absence from practice may have created the opening for that to happen.
Play of the Day: Shane Vereen may have had trouble catching the ball down the field last fall, but that was not the case in Thursday's practice. The running back lined up wide to the left, beat young cornerback Justin Green easily off the line and then took advantage of the separation to haul in Ryan Mallett's pretty ball for a big-play touchdown.
A total of 10 players missed the practice. That included Aaron Dobson (foot/PUP), Jeremy Gallon (PUP), Dominique Easley (ACL/NFI), Chris Martin (NFI), Deontae Skinner (NFI) Bryan Stork, Jemea Thomas, Michael Hoomanawanui (leg), Tyler Gaffney (knee) and Cameron Gordon. Gordon was the only new addition to the list of absentees. … Josh Boyce returned to action after missing one workout to an apparent knee injury. Chris White also returned after missing one day for unknown reasons. … Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was in attendance during the practice. Faulk was actually on the field during the workout at various times, spending portions with the running backs as well as a long chat on one knee with Brady. … The safety spot continues to be a wide open rotation next to Devin McCourty in practice. Cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan each got work there on Thursday, while Nate Ebner got a ton of action working with the top group at that spot. … Likely in preparation for what the team will see next week in Washington and the week after against the Eagles the Patriots offense began running some read-option scout looks for the defense. … Brady will celebrate his 37th birthday on Sunday. The quarterback was asked about the youthful exuberance he brings to his job. "Where else would I rather be? This is a lot better than any cubicle I could probably think of. It's a pretty good office. … Friday night's 7 p.m. practice inside Gillette Stadium is a ticketed event for season ticket members only. … Alex Guerrero is a man behind the scenes who's helped Brady in offseason training and physical preparations over the years. He's also the head of the TB12 Physical Sports Training Center at Patriot Place. And he's helped Brady even more than that. "More than anyone could ever realize. He's been someone I've been very lucky to work with for a long time. He's my best friend, and he's phenomenal at what he does – probably the best in the world – so I'm pretty lucky."