Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was on the field in full pads with his teammates for Day 4 of training camp Sunday morning in Foxborough, but No. 12 took a less frequent part in the workout than the first three days of action.
Brady took part fully in positional and group drills, but when it came around to more team-based action the bulk of the reps fell to Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo. The good news is that both young passers seemed to take advantage, with Mallett in particular putting together a very solid showing over the course of the two-plus hour workout.
Mallett seemed more comfortable in his reads and accurate than is sometimes the case. He hit a nice deep ball to Josh Boyce behind Brandon Browner, threw a rope over the middle for a completion to Brandon LaFell in team action and found D.J. Williams for a touchdown in the red zone. Mallett seemed to really enjoy the day, showing a lot of emotion after a number of plays, including a hip-bump celebration with Brady after the Williams touchdown.
For his part, one day after a dismal performance Garoppolo bounced back with a more palatable day. The rookie still struggles holding onto the ball too long and going through his reads, but he wasn't nearly as inaccurate on Sunday. The rookie did not throw any interceptions after tossing a pair in each of the previous two workouts. It was certainly a step forward for the second-round backup, although he and roommate Bryan Stork did once again have to take a penalty lap for a botched snap.
Aside from the quarterbacks another area in which reps were intriguing was on the offensive line where there was a lot of mixing and matching going on. Once constant, though, is that Josh Kline continues to get high-level chances at a variety of spots. The second-year backup has seen action at center, guard and tackle so far, and even got work as an extra tight end on Sunday.
On a day when there was a lot of work on the running game – including half-line interior running – offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo kept the personnel changing on seemingly each rep. That saw many different faces in the middle, as well as Sebastian Vollmer seeing the bulk of his work in time at left tackle rather than his traditional right tackle job.
Beyond the QB reps and offensive line musical jobs, here are one man's training camp blogservations:
--The workout was once again in full pads. The weather was partly sunny early with clouds increasing throughout leading up to a torrential downpour that cut the session a few minutes short.
--Those players not taking part included Aaron Dobson (foot/PUP), Matthew Slater (PUP), Jeremy Gallon (PUP), Alfonzo Dennard (knee/PUP), Dominique Easley (ACL/NFI), Chris Martin (NFI), Deontae Skinner (NFI), Jemea Thomas and Daxton Swanson. Dobson, Easley, Dennard and others were on the field doing rehab work.
--Tommy Kelly was once again on the field wearing helmet and shoulder pads but shorts rather than practice pants. He continues to be held out of team and group drills as he works back from a torn ACL.
--There was a new digital play clock on the field for the first time this summer.
--New England released injured receiver Greg Orton and signed a pair of young pass catchers. Orton, who was carted off the field on Friday, will likely revert to injured reserve once he clears waivers. The team added rookie free agent wide receiver Cole Stanford (No. 14) and second-year receiver Brian Tyms (No. 84). Stanford was a 6-2, 225-pound converted linebacker at Cal Poly, while Tyms is a 6-3, 204-pound target out of Florida A&M who caught two passes for 12 yards in seven games with the Browns last season. He previously spent time with the 49ers and Dolphins.
--There was a slight change in pre-practice work. In previous days Brady worked with an offense on one field while Mallett and Garoppolo worked with a younger unit on the other. Today, Mallett was with Brady while Garoppolo was with the younger squad.
--A group of what looked to be Arena Football League scouts/coaches watched the practice from the sidelines.
--The reps at safety continued to be rotating as Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon both got work not only with Devin McCourty but together as a pair working alongside Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner.
--Kanorris Davis has some of the biggest arms on the team and also gets as much one-on-one coaching time as almost any other player. The safety spends a lot of time throughout practice working with assistant special teams coach Joe Judge in what look to be gunner drills. The youngster could be getting a chance to take over a big role in coverage or as a core special teamer if he can make good on the extra coaching. The only down side is that the work takes place during team defense drills and it could be an indication he has little perceived value at safety.
--During some pre-practice work on team defense Chandler Jones worked at left end with veteran newcomer Will Smith on the right side. Smith talked this spring about the fact that he's primarily played the right side in his career in New Orleans and prefers that spot.
--Brady and Mallett continue to have little races during running drills prior to practice, although they don't seem to actually sprint to beat each other. Garoppolo clearly defers to the veteran passers and falls into the rest of the pack, unlike what Tim Tebow did in his time in camp last fall trying to stand out in his role as the No. 3 QB.
--Position drills are always fun to watch and seem to change almost every day. Josh McDaniels spent some time throwing bags at the quarterbacks as they worked on their footwork in the pocket.
--During that same drill Mallett used his height in the middle to knock down a Garoppolo throw.
--Brandon LaFell has shown inconsistent hands to date in camp but made a pretty one-handed catch on a crossing route over the middle in group work with the quarterbacks.
--During the half-line interior running drill there was a decent amount of energy and pop from both sides of the ball. One of the downsides of the drill was a failed handoff between Garoppolo and Brandon Bolden.
--Bolden and Stevan Ridley each wore what appeared to be the same fluorescent green cleats.
--James Develin continued to be a physical force in the ground game with the fullback finding someone to hit on every snap. He's not always perfect, and sometimes fails to maintain his blocks, but you can't criticize Develin's want-to.
--Brian Daboll spent time again gently tossing a ball over Rob Gronkowski's head from behind the big stationary tight end. The Pro Bowler caught the ball flawlessly in the drill on Saturday but looked more human today with a couple drops. Gronkowski was once again limited to positional and group work but no team or work against defense as he comes back from a torn ACL.
--It's always worth noting which pass catchers spend time on the opposite field with the quarterbacks during special teams segments. Today that honor fell to Gronkowski and Shane Vereen while the rest of the team worked on punt returns.
--The three return men in the punt return action were Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Roy Finch, with the rookie bobbling one of his chances.
--Ryan Allen was hitting the ball well on his punts, including one that drove Edelman way back into the end zone before it hit the turf, actually drawing a large applause from the crowd. Not too often that a punt gets an ovation in training camp.
--During the punt return phase the first gunners on one side were Logan Ryan and Patrick Chung with Tavon Wilson and Kyle Arrington on the opposite side of the field. The next reps saw Browner and Davis on one side with McCourty and Revis on the opposite sideline. This is the second straight day that Revis has been very involved in the kicking game, having covered kicks on Saturday. The more you can do.
--With more emphasis on the run game, Revis didn't have quite as exciting a day. He did get at it a bit with Edelman when the receiver got a good block on him in one team drill and the Pro Bowl corner threw him to the turf.
--Michael Hoomanawanui got into Taylor McCuller's face after the undrafted rookie rode the veteran tight end out of bounds and then to the turf over a pile of equipment on the sideline. When the linebacker went to help Hooman up the tight end took a couple swings at the rookie before it was broken up.
--Finch goes down pretty easy. After a catch from Garoppolo down the left sideline he took a pop from McCuller that sent the 5-7 rookie to the turf.
--Kenbrell Thompkins had a bad drop on a backside slant on a throw from Brady in team action.
--Browner displayed his size and physicality when he put a big pop on James White when the rookie ran around left end in a team segment. The big corner then celebrated with a loud roar.
--With no kickoffs or field goal work, Stephen Gostkowski did a lot of conditioning running on his own throughout the practice.
--Williams caught a pass beating Michael Buchanan down the right sideline, but the defensive end actually did a pretty impressive job running with the tight end and it took an accurate throw to get the completion.
--Mallett's deep ball to Boyce beating Browner down the left sideline was one of the few bright spots early in camp for the second-year receiver. He continues to have inconsistent hands, falls down sometimes and for a guy who is supposed to be a speedy deep threat seems to lack that extra gear to go after the ball when it's in the air.
--Patriots owner Robert Kraft watched the bulk of the workout from the sidelines. He then had to use a Gatorade towel as a make-shift umbrella when the skies opened up late. Fans in attendance also got creative in trying to stay dry, many putting Patriots Football Weekly to use as an umbrella.
--James Anderson showed really good hustle (as did Jamie Collins) on a White big-play run down the left sideline in team action. The veteran never broke stride trying to chase down the young runner from behind.
--Steve Beauharnais and Cameron Gordon had to run a penalty lap together for an infraction (offsides?) in team action and also got barked at by Bill Belichick.
--Justin Jones has come on as camp continues. The undrafted tight end is a decent blocker and seems to be getting more comfortable in his route running. He caught a wide open touchdown from Garoppolo on the goal line late in practice. At the very least he looks the part and is one of those first-guy-off-the-bus types.
--Develin led the tight ends in a series of gassers/suicides in the rain after practice was called short.
--Media interviews took place under the ramps of Gillette Stadium to get out of the weather rather than on the practice field. Those players talking to the media included Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Stevan Ridley, James Develin, Devin McCourty, Zach Moore, Justin Jones and others.
--The Patriots will not hold a practice on Monday as the players have the day off. The team will return to the field on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. for a session that is open to the public. The schedule will be the same for both Wednesday and Thursday as well.