On the eve of Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Redskins at Gillette Stadium, New England had an abbreviated afternoon training camp session on the practice fields of Foxborough.
The full-pads workout lasted little more than an hour and 15 minutes as the squad worked through a variety of team segments on both sides of the ball as well as some special teams work.
The story of the day, though, was the weather. The workout began under sunny skies and the hot temperatures that have become common of late, but by the time things wrapped up Bill Belichick’s troops were working in torrential downpours. Shortly after the team concluded and headed to the locker room there was some pretty impressive lightning as well.
As for the work on the field, it was a little more than a walk-through but far from a full, physical session. Tom Brady continued to take somewhat limited reps, today handling the first few snaps in various segments before giving way to veteran backup Brian Hoyer and rookie third-stringer Danny Etling. The rundown may have been an indication of what to expect against Washington, although there have been many years when Brady has sat out the preseason opener altogether.
Beyond the limited physicality and tempo, the afternoon session also lost some luster due to the fact that it was closed to the public. Without fans the practice fields were certainly more quit and with a bit less energy than has been the case previously in camp.
In addition to the notable weather changes during the relatively quiet workout, here are one man’s blogservations from a media tent that grew more crowded as the rain fell harder:
--Those players not seen on the field for the practice were Marcus Cannon, Sony Michel, Harvey Langi and Brian Schwenke. Langi, the latest addition to the absentee list, missed for the second straight day due to unknown reasons.
--Players spending time on the rehab field included Kenny Britt, Jonathan Jones, Jason King, Matthew Slater, Trey Flowers and Nate Ebner.
--Early on in the practice Rex Burkhead also went down the conditioning hill to the rehab field. He did not return to practice.
--Cyrus Jones spent most of the practice catching punts, either on the side field or during team punt/punt return drills. He has caught the ball seemingly well during his first few days off PUP. He did have at least one hiccup on Wednesday, when he waved his hands to indicate to non-existent teammates to stay away from a short punt but then allowed the bouncing ball to deflect off him for what would be a fumble in a game situation.
--Jonathan Jones and Ebner came to the regular practice field for some limited work, some of which included serving as look cover guys for Cyrus Jones’ punt return work.
--After one return Ebner called for Cyrus Jones to throw him the ball, yelling “cutoff” like he was a shortstop taking a throw from a center fielder in baseball.
--On another throwback Cyrus Jones threw left handed and behind his back.
--Brady took three snaps in early 11-on-11 walk-through type work, a pass and two handoffs.
--Jeremy Hill fumbled one off his early practice carries when the ball was knocked out by a defender.
--Prior to the start of practice the offense worked on the left field and the defense the right, breaking from the usual camp routine.
--Early in practice Deatrich Wise batted down a Brady throw in 11-on-11 work. Brady then connected on a deep throw down the left sideline to Phillip Dorsett, beating Eric Rowe. Even coming in a less competitive environment it was a relatively big grab for Dorsett, who had a bad drop in a similar situation earlier this week.
--Corey Bojorquez was the guy punting for Cyrus Jones all afternoon, the rookie punter getting in plenty of extra work in advance of what may be his first taste of NFL game action on Thursday night.
--As he’s been doing while dealing with what he deemed a minor injury, Flowers spent time alone on his knees hitting a sled on the far end of the field. Flowers also spent some time one-on-one working with martial arts expert and unofficial coach Joe Kim.
--During one rep early in punt work, Ryan Allen took the snap but Bojorquez actually punted the ball from just behind the veteran.
--While the special teams action was going on the offensive line and quarterbacks worked on the side field. One funny aspect of the drill was seeing massive tackle Trent Brown serve as a scout defensive end for the action. On one “rep” he ran a stunt to the inside. Later he dropped into coverage and made a one-handed “interception” when the ball was thrown to him, showing some impressive athleticism.
--Former Redskins quarterback and current broadcaster Joe Theisman was on the field early in practice and then watched later from the media tent.
--Etling had a couple really nice throws in the practice as he makes incremental strides this summer. He had a nice slant throw in the red zone where he zipped it into a spot to Cordarrelle Patterson. He also connected on a corner route with Eric Decker.
--The Etling-to-Decker connection came after the duo failed to hook up a couple snaps earlier in the same back left corner of the end zone. If at first you don’t succeed…
--Decker had a tough drop, an issue that crept up for him at times a year ago in Tennessee.
--Despite the limited tempo and physicality there was a lot of work on the running game with Mike Gillislee, Hill and undrafted rookie Ralph Webb all getting their carries.
--Etling had a nice deep connection in the right corner of the end zone to Braxton Berrios, the rookie receiver who’s also seemingly come on a bit in recent days as he prepares for preseason action.
--Etling did throw an interception to safety Damarius Travis in the end zone.
--During one special teams portion with Brady and the offensive line working on side field Etling served as a wide receiver for the offense. He “ran” short routes for both Brady and Hoyer.
--During team punt return work Cyrus Jones, Julian Edelman, Riley McCarron, Berrios and Patrick Chung were all back deep.
--In the same segment, J.C. Jackson, Eddie Pleasant and Jomal Wiltz worked as vice guys.
--King spent time alone drive-blocking the heavy sled at the far end of the field.
--When the skies opened up, ball boys scrambled to pick up equipment that they didn’t want to get wet, including medicine balls.
--As it’s been throughout nearly all of camp since Cannon went down, the first linemen to take reps in drills had Brown at left tackle, Joe Thuney at left guard, David Andrews at center, Shaq Mason at right guard and LaAdrian Waddle at right tackle.
--The next group had Isaiah Wynn at left tackle, James Ferentz at left guard, Ted Karras at center, Cole Croston at right guard and Matt Tobin at right tackle.
--Cyrus Jones and Ebner left the field early during the rain and returned inside to Gillette.
--Hoyer took a quick couple extra snaps with Karras when going from the Andrews-led line to the next group.
--Hoyer had what looked like an ad-lib play when he rolled right and found Devin Lucien in the right side of the end zone for a touchdown.
--Joe Cardona and Allen worked on some snaps and field goal/PAT holds between the two fields, seemingly taking advantage of the horrible conditions to prepare for a worse-case scenario.
--Etling stayed on the field after Belichick called the team up to end practice, spending an extra few minutes with Berrios.
--While it poured to close out the practice and then later, bright sun actually broke through the clouds at the same time creating a unique scene.
--It got so wet there was essentially a river running through the media tent.
--After the team broke down and left the field the group of cornerbacks – Stephon Gilmore, Jackson, Jason McCourty, Eric Rowe, Ryan Lewis and Duke Dawson – huddled up for a few moments together.
--The rain moved player interviews with reporters inside to the Gillette Stadium media workroom, with Devin McCourty and Chung among those going to the podium.