Check out our favorite photos from the 14th and final day of Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, which included a surprise visit from Boston Bruins players Charlie McAvoy, Chris Wagner, Ryan Donato and Matt Grzelcyk.
Training camp, at least the public portion of it, is over. And for one day so were most of the problems with the passing game, at least in terms of catching the football.
But there’s a chance the real concerns in the receiving department are still ongoing. While the wideouts did a much better job catching the ball in Tuesday – particularly Chris Hogan and Eric Decker – the group received a scare late in practice when Phillip Dorsett went down with what looked like a non-contact knee injury.
Dorsett was running a crossing route when he slipped and fell to the turf. Several players immediately called for the medical staff to take a look. The fourth-year wideout remained down for a several moments before being helped to the blue medical tent by head trainer Jim Whalen and another member of the training staff.
After several minutes Dorsett exited the tent and sat on a Gatorade bucket just outside. He was seen putting his hands on his right knee and then putting his head in his hands. By appearances it looked as if he might be dealing with something significant, but then things took a positive turn.
Dorsett got to his feet and put his helmet on in the far end zone and started catching passes from a ballboy. He did so for several minutes, turning at different angles in an effort to test the knee from all directions. He seemed to be moving without much of a limp and remained on the field for the remainder of practice.
After the workout ended he retreated to the steps back toward the locker room, but then quickly returned to spend some time with some folks in the friends and family tent. As he made his way off the field he told several members of the media that he was OK.
If Dorsett indeed dodged a bullet in terms of a significant injury it would be a much-needed break for the receiving corps in general. The group does not have many known commodities after Julian Edelman, and Dorsett by no means falls into that category, but at least having another guy with experience in the system would be beneficial – particularly in September when Edelman is serving his suspension.
Overall it was a better day for the pass catchers as the drops were few and far between. As mentioned earlier, Hogan may have had his best day of camp. He caught several passes from Tom Brady, who once again assumed his normal heavy workload during practice.
In other positive news, Edelman looked none the worse for wear after coming up lame late in Monday’s practice. Edelman limped a bit before running a couple routes at less than full speed to close things out but on Tuesday looked like his normal self. He ran without a hint of limitations and did a nice job creating space and catching the football, although he did have problems (and has had problems) maintaining his footing in the wet conditions.
Beyond the developments at wide receiver, here are one man’s blogservations from the Patriots 14th and final training camp practice (11th in full pads) open to the public.
-Dorsett wasn’t the only Patriot who started but was unable to finish practice. Dwayne Allen stumbled as he tried to get into his route early in the day and immediately grabbed his left side. He spent several moments hunched over in the back of the huddle and tried to work through whatever was ailing him. He took several more reps and appeared to be fighting through the pain, but then quickly grabbed his side once again as he reached the end zone on a seam route and wound up watching the rest of practice from the sideline. Ryan Izzo appeared to pick up many of his reps, particularly as a blocker. Also, Marquis Flowers exited to the medical tent at one point and did not return to practice, and rookie Trent Harris left the fields with a member of the training staff and did not return.
-The four players who didn’t practice on Monday – Matthew Slater, Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead and Marcus Cannon – were once again absent on Tuesday. In addition, Ryan Lewis, Duke Dawson, Kenny Britt and Trey Flowers did work on the rehab field and did not take part in practice. On the plus side, Cordarrelle Patterson returned to work after spending Monday’s workout on the rehab field. He took part in positional drills and remained with the team throughout the practice.
-The Patriots welcomed four members of the Boston Bruins to practice. Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Ryan Donato and newcomer Chris Wagner watched from in between the fields. All four all Massachusetts natives as McAvoy and Grzelcyk are from Charleston, Donato is from Scituate and Wagner hails from Walpole.
-Prior to practice there was sort of an impromptu offensive coaches meeting consisting of Bill Belichick, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea and tight ends coach Nick Caley. That group talked for several minutes as the players prepared for the workout.
-O’Shea added a new “weapon” to his repertoire of equipment during positional drills. He’s worked with towels, pads, jousting sticks and just about anything else he could get his hands on in an effort to make life difficult on his pass catchers this summer. On Tuesday he combined a couple of those elements and used a jousting stick with a boxing glove at the end in an effort to distract the receivers as they worked through their normal box drills.
-Brady donned his new helmet for the third straight day in place of the one he’s worn for his entire 19-year career. The NFL plans to make the newer helmets, which are already worn by a vast majority of players, mandatory for everybody starting in 2019 so this is the final year Brady will be “grandfathered” and allowed to skirt the rule. The quarterback was asked about the change after practice and said he made the change at the request of equipment manager Brenden Murphy and likes it.
-Keionta Davis continues to receive some high-level reps with a host of prominent defenders. He lined up at right defensive end next to Danny Shelton, Malcom Brown and Deatrich Wise on Tuesday during a team segment. On the first play Brady tried to set up a misdirection screen to James White, but Davis diagnosed the fake pitch to the right and stayed home, forcing Brady to throw the ball at White’s feet to avoid a loss.
-Ja’Whaun Bentley also continues to take some reps at linebacker and he came up with a nice pass deflection on a ball intended for Rob Gronkowski. Bentley rotated with Dont’a Hightower at times, perhaps because Hightower spent some time riding the stationary bike in between the fields. Either way Bentley has been more noticeable in recent days.
-During some kick return work, the tight ends worked on catching passes while heavily covered. As the balls were thrown, they would catch them while a teammate was draped on their arms, forcing the receptions to be made under heavy duress.
-Meanwhile, Patterson did not return any kicks during the period as Riley McCarron and Braxton Berrios handled those duties. Jeremy Hill and James Develin served as the two up men, and Hill actually was forced to field one and returned it without a problem. Patterson took a knee on the sideline near the end zone in which the balls were kicked, likely due to whatever physical limitations he’s been dealing with. McCarron, Berrios, Edelman, Patrick Chung and Cyrus Jones all handled punts later in practice.
-Robert Kraft made his daily appearance on the practice fields.
-Eric Rowe was back with Stephon Gilmore during the first period of 11-on-11 work. He effectively covered Devin Lucien during a red zone drill and prevented the touchdown. Jonathan Jones worked in the slot with that group and knocked a pass away from Decker. Later, Jason McCourty also took reps alongside Gilmore as he continues to see the quality of his reps increase in recent days.
-This camp will not go down as one of the more physical we’ve seen during the Belichick era but that will not be true of Elandon Roberts. The linebacker has been among the most willing hitters on the field, and that was the case on Tuesday when he knocked down Ralph Webb following an incomplete pass. The hit wasn’t overly violent but certainly seemed unnecessary at the least.
-Nate Ebner and Cyrus Jones ran several timed sprints across the field opposite where some of the team work was taking place during the latter part of practice. Both have done so for several days as the continue working their way back to full strength after starting camp on PUP.
-The late offensive hurry-up drills were run against a defense that consisted of Wise, Adam Butler, Adrian Clayborn, Kyle Van Noy, Hightower, Gilmore, Jason McCourty, Chung, Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Keion Crossen. The offense moved down the field and was forced to kick a field goal with the clock running in the waning seconds. The unit scrambled off the field while the offense retreated to the sideline, which created a funny moment when Edelman initially ran to the wrong side before reversing field and joining the rest of the offense. Stephen Gostkowski then drilled the field goal.
-As the most of the players began their cool down process after practice, Danny Etling got his “opportunity reps” in with several other young players.
-Brady worked with Murphy at the end of practice, running several sprints while tethered to the equipment manager. It’s a drill we’ve seen many times before, and when Brady finished up that work he joined the media for his second press conference of camp.
-In addition to Brady, those taking some time to chat with the media included Webb, Chung, Clayborn, White, Hogan, Jason McCourty and Matt Tobin. Incidentally, Tobin has been working at left tackle with the second group the last few days while Wynn has moved to the right side.
-The remainder of the Patriots practices will not be open to the public and Wednesday’s walkthrough is closed to the media as well. The preseason continues on Thursday as New England hosts the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium with kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.