The Patriots continued their work on Day 2 of training camp with a set up that was quite similar to Wednesday. Wearing helmets and shorts, the players practiced for roughly 90 minutes once again, only this time it was the defense making the bulk of the noise.
After watching wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker celebrate excessively after successful plays on opening day, it was the secondary playfully mocking their offensive counterparts on Thursday. The most noticeable participants were Jalen Mills and Devin McCourty, the latter of which spent much of the latter portion of the workout flexing toward the offensive sideline, drawing the attention of Damien Harris for some lighthearted back and forth moments.
The offense failed to generate the kind of consistent success it showed a day earlier as the defense seemed to take some the earlier histrionics personally.
"We made some plays today so it was our turn to show out," safety Adrian Phillips admitted after practice.
What made the defense's performance even more impressive was the fact that for long stretches of the practice the defensive backs donned the padded sparring gloves that prevent them from grabbing hold of the receivers. Still, the receivers had a tough time shaking free consistently.
"If you make a play with the pads on, it's like, 'now what are you going to say,'" Phillips added.
The most impressive stretch for the defense came at the very end when the offense ran 10 plays from inside the 10 and failed to score once. Mac Jones opened the series with three straight unproductive plays with incompletions toward covered wideouts Parker and Nelson Agholor sandwiched around a would-be sack when Jones couldn't find an option.
The struggles continued with Mills coming up with a nice diving breakup on an attempted slant to Agholor, and each incompletion seemed to further excite McCourty as he gestured toward his offensive teammates. Second-year safety Josh Bledsoe was quite active throughout the practice, coming up with a couple of nice plays in coverage against tight ends Jonnu Smith and Devin Asiasi.
With practice winding down, the offense finally broke through with Jones using a quick sprint out to the right to hit Hunter Henry for an easy touchdown. There was a lot of traffic down inside the 5, and it appeared as if the coverage got caught up in a pick on the play, but nonetheless the offense finally had reason to celebrate.
As was the case on Wednesday, it was the final play of the day and the entire defense was forced to drop for 10 pushups as a result of allowing the score.
"It came down to the last play so what are you going to do," Phillips said. "You can play great defense for 59 minutes and 59 seconds, but if comes down to the final play in the final second and they score, that's all that really matters."
In a true game setting, Phillips is obviously right. But after watching the receivers whooping it up as camp opened, Thursday's turnaround had to feel good for the secondary.
Beyond the energy shifting to the defense, here are one man's thoughts on Day 2 of Patriots training camp.
*There were no changes to the various lists as Jabrill Peppers, James White, Jonathan Jones and David Andrews remain on PUP while Myles Bryant, Andrew Stueber and Chasen Hines (non-football injury) and Jake Bailey (non-football illness) all remain out. Andrews and White were spotted during practice, but neither was in uniform. There was one addition to the absentee list as defensive lineman Deatrich Wise was not spotted during the practice.
*Fresh off negotiating a two-year extension for his client Davon Godchaux, agent Drew Rosenhaus was in town and was on the field to take in practice. Rosenhaus represents several Patriots including Jalen Mills and Jonnu Smith among others.
*Robert Kraft was on the fields as usual and took some time out to chat with Mac Jones during the early part of practice.
*The defensive linemen worked on staying low out of their stance by being forced to stay under a metal chute before exploding upfield. The drill helps the big guys keep their pad level low before engaging with blockers.
*One defensive lineman to watch is Henry Anderson. During the early part of camp he has been working both as a traditional defensive end and at times runs drills with outside linebackers such as Matthew Judon. During the latter drills the 6-6, 301-pound Anderson has been working on dropping into short outside zones, which is perhaps an indication that the coaches are seeing if he can be a candidate for more versatile duties in his second year with the team. Just something to keep an eye on considering the lack of proven depth opposite Judon.
*The offensive line continues to feature Trent Brown at left tackle and Isaiah Wynn on the right side, which has been the case every time both have been available and the media has been able to watch practice. James Ferentz is working at center in place of Andrews with rookie Cole Strange and Mike Onwenu at left and right guard, respectively. The second group on Thursday featured Will Sherman occasionally at center. Rookie Kody Russey also took some reps in the middle. Yodny Cajuste and Arlington Hambright worked at left tackle and guard while Yasir Durant and Drew Desjarlais manned right tackle and guard.
*The kickoff team got some work in with most of the usual suspects used in coverage including Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel and Cody Davis. Ty Montgomery, the versatile running back/wide receiver, also was part of the coverage group. Agholor, J.J. Taylor and Rhamondre Stevenson all handled the kickoffs, most coming off the foot of Tristan Vizcaino.
*Stevenson looks slimmer this season and after practice he spoke with the media and explained why. The second-year running back said he wasn't happy with his conditioning last summer and he dropped seven pounds before reporting this year at his current 225 pounds. "Last year I didn't really come into camp in the best shape," he said. "I'm more lean this year and I feel like I can run a lot more. Overall I just feel better."
*Rookie Bailey Zappe got a lot more work than he did Wednesday as Brian Hoyer seemed to get much of the day off. Zappe experienced some typical rookie inconsistency but at times delivered the ball with decisiveness and solid velocity. He threw a nice high-arcing touchdown to Jonnu Smith in the back corner of the end zone just over the outstretched hands of Bledsoe during an early 7-on-7 drill. Later in the same drill Jones connected with Hunter Henry, who outleaped Kyle Dugger in the back of the end zone for another touchdown.
*The touchdown to Smith was one of the few completions allowed by Bledsoe. The 2021 sixth-round pick out of Missouri missed most of last season while recovering from a hand injury suffered in college, but early on he looks like a candidate for a role in the secondary. The safety has been effective covering tight ends thus far and on Thursday he came up with at least three pass breakups, including one where he blanketed Smith on a similar route to the one he was barely beaten on earlier. Wearing the famous No. 24 that a few former Patriots stars have donned, Bledsoe has been an early one to watch. After practice Mills said "Josh was flying around today."
*Taylor coughed up the ball during a ball security drill where the offensive players catch short passes before being pursued by defenders. He was forced to run a lap as a result.
*Parker was much quieter on Day 2 but he still managed to come up with what was likely the play of the day. Working in a 7-on-7 red zone drill, he was able to spin around and contort his body before tapping both feet just inside the sideline in the end zone to corral a Jones pass. Mills had tight coverage on the play, yet Parker somehow managed to make the back shoulder grab with impressive body control.
*Christian Barmore was serenaded by the rookies with their rendition of "Happy Birthday" after practice as the defensive lineman turned 23 on Thursday.
*Vizcaino handled the late-practice field goals on Thursday with a half dozen kicks ranging from roughly 34-50 yards in length. He appeared to hook the 50-yarder wide to the left.
*A large group of Patriots spent time chatting with the media after practice. Included among them were Slater, Phillips, McCourty, Parker, Mills, Hoyer, Stevenson, Barmore, Godchaux, Shaun Wade, Nick Folk, Malcolm Butler, Tre Nixon and Cole Strange. McCourty and Mac Jones also spoke with NBC Sports' Peter King after practice.
*Day 3 is set for Friday in Foxborough with practice to begin once again at 9:30 a.m. and gates opening at 8 a.m. As always, please check with Patriots.com for all the latest changes and updates to the team's schedule.