Check out our favorite photos from the sixth day of Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018.
After a day off on Tuesday the Patriots got back to work Wednesday morning under overcast skies and humid conditions in Foxborough. Although the team was back in full pads as well, the tempo and energy level seemed to be lacking a bit during the quiet workout.
But of more importance in the short term could be a growing list of injuries as the Patriots saw two players leave the fields during practice. First, Marcus Cannon walked off with head trainer Jim Whalen early on and then rookie Sony Michel did the same a little later.
It was not apparent if Cannon sustained any injury but it appeared as if Michel came up gimpy after a run off left tackle during some half-line work. The rookie running back bounced outside to space but then started skipping in a quasi-limp back toward the huddle. He took some instruction from running backs coach Ivan Fears before heading toward the stationary bike in between fields.
He spent some time with Whalen and then went to the blue medical tent before ultimately leaving for the day. It appeared to be a leg/ankle injury of some sort but his absence left the running back ranks a bit thin with Mike Gillislee already on the shelf with an undisclosed injury.
That was particularly problematic because the offense worked quite a bit on the running game, leaving Jeremy Hill, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden to carry a heavy load. Hill seemed to get most of the carries and looked solid at times, taking advantage of some effective work from the guys up front.
LaAdrian Waddle took Cannon's place at right tackle while the remainder of the group remained unchanged from previous days. One slight wrinkle, however, came when Isaiah Wynn replaced Trent Brown at left tackle with the first group. That was the first time I can recall seeing the rookie with that group.
Unfortunately, Wynn slipped on the turf (a problem many players dealt with Wednesday morning) and ultimately missed his block as a result. He was immediately replaced by Brown on the next play. Wynn has worked exclusively at left tackle thus far, and his presence with the front-line players was perhaps an indication that the coaches are satisfied with his early work.
In addition to the departures of Cannon and Michel, here are one man's blogservations from the Patriots sixth practice of training camp.
-The Patriots injury list had already grown a bit before practice as the team was without Malcolm Mitchell (knee), Mike Gillislee, Keion Crossen (reported back) and Jordan Matthews (hamstring). Rookie defensive tackle John Atkins was in uniform but immediately went to the lower rehab field for some conditioning work. The PUP list remained unchanged with Matthew Slater, Jonathan Jones (Achilles), Cyrus Jones (ACL), Nate Ebner (ACL) and Kenny Britt (hamstring) still unable to practice. Atkins joined that quintet along with Gillislee, Mitchell and Crossen on the rehab field.
-Matthews was not spotted and after practice we learned why. The Boston Globe was first to report that Matthews was released, making his stint in New England a brief one. Henry Poggi, a fullback out of Michigan, was in uniform to replace Matthews on the roster. Earlier in the morning NFL Network reported that Matthews' hamstring injury was significant, and in light of his release it's possible the Patriots could revisit the wideout down the road if and when he's healthy, but it would seem Bill Belichick deemed the roster spot too valuable at this stage of camp to wait for that to happen.
-Danny Etling continued his practice of being the first player on the field.
-Wesleyan athletic director Mike Whalen was a guest at practice. Wesleyan, of course, is Belichick's alma mater.
-It seems that Jacob Hollister makes at least one memorable play each practice. On Wednesday he raced across the field behind Duron Harmon and made a nice catch as he lunged forward on a full sprint and hauled in a slightly overthrown pass during one-on-one drills. It's easy to see what Belichick believes he has a bright future.
-While there have been many players forced to run laps for various infractions, few have run them slower than the ones Brown and Vincent Valentine did at different points on Wednesday. Brown moves exceptionally well for a 380-pounder but his jog on laps generally deteriorates into a walk before the task is completed. Valentine's wasn't much better as he also walked for a portion of trip.
-The defensive line had some different members for portions of the team work on Wednesday. Malcom Brown replaced Lawrence Guy at defensive tackle next to Danny Shelton while Deatrich Wise took Adrian Clayborn's spot at right defensive end opposite Trey Flowers. Wise has enjoyed a strong camp and looks like he could be in line for an expanded role in his second season.
-There was a young Patriots fan watching practice wearing a replica jersey with the No. 5 and TEBOW on the nameplate. Given the age of the owner, the shirt must have been a hand-me-down given Tebow has been long gone from New England since 2013.
-After Wynn saw his action for the first unit he remained at left tackle with the next group as well. He worked with James Ferentz at left guard, Ted Karras at center, Ulrick John at right guard and Cole Croston at right tackle.
-The special teams focus was on the punt team on Wednesday as Jordan Richards served as the personal protector and the gunners included Eddie Pleasant, J.C. Jackson and A.J. Moore among others. Julian Edelman, Burkhead, Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron all handled some returns. Burkhead and Berrios each fumbled an attempt while McCarron seemed to handle his chances the most effectively of the group.
-Newcomer Brian Schwenke took part in his first practice as a Patriot, taking some reps in one-on-one drills. He handled himself well on one attempt, pushing Malcom Brown to the left before knocking the defensive tackle off his feet after Brown had gotten upfield slightly.
-Edelman sat on the ground with a member of the trainer staff about halfway through practice and had his leg worked on for a bit. He did not miss any practice time.
-There was a noticeable lack of tempo and energy during the majority of practice with most of the activity taking place in relative quiet. Even during the run-heavy practice there wasn't much in the way of heavy contact or enthusiasm that was apparent. The pace was something between a walkthrough and full speed at times with some routes and coverages not always appearing to be conducted with top intensity.
-One notable exception came when the Patriots did a variation of the old Oklahoma drill midway through the session. There was a long, thin pad place on the field with a football resting on top as a running back lined up on one end and a defensive player (linebackers mostly) lined up on the other. At the whistle the back scooped up the ball and ran straight into the tackler, which created some significant contact. The backs were not tackled to the ground and that didn't stop the intensity. Dont'a Hightower took on Jeremy Hill in one of the better matchups, and James Develin pulled off an impressive spin move after colliding with Harvey Langi on another battle. Derek Rivers wrapped up Hill later and wound up picking up the 230-pound back as he turned him back.
-Phillip Dorsett continues to make plays in a variety of ways. He worked out of the slot to beat Jason McCourty deep for a nice hookup with Brian Hoyer, and he also connected with Brady against Stephon Gilmore on a nicely-executed out route.
-Beating Gilmore is starting to become cause for breaking camp news. The corner remains dominant for the most part, especially when Chris Hogan is the receiver. He twice demonstrated excellent coverage against Hogan and made his trademark one-handed knock down on a deep ball on the second one.
-Ryan Lewis did a nice job sticking with Rob Gronkowski down the slot before knocking away a Tom Brady pass late in practice.
-Foxborough had a flashback to the 1990s as the playlist during some late team periods had a distinct old-school flavor. Among the selections the team worked through were "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan, "Hip Hop Hooray" by Naughty by Nature and "Whoomp! (There It Is)" by Tag Team. It was like a 1993 time warp.
-Kyle Van Noy participated in a good portion of practice wearing a plain blue jersey with no number. He spoke after practice and told reporters he was too fast and the offense was forced to hold him, ripping the jersey and making the switch to the plain one necessary.
-The offense operated with a play clock on the field during some situational/two-minute work late in practice. It was the first time I noticed the play clock in use on the field.
-Stephen Gostkowski completed the offensive work late in practice with some field goals, although he missed one wide left. While I haven't charted every one of Gostkowski's kicks, it was the only miss I can recall seeing in six practices. He has kicked the ball exceptionally well this summer.
-The defense working in the late-game, hurry-up segments featured a 4-2-5 look with Wise, Flowers, Brown and Clayborn in front of Hightower and Elandon Roberts with Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Harmon at safety. The second group had the same alignment with Trent Harris, Eric Lee, Keionta Davis and Frank Herron up front, rookies Christian Sam and Ja'Whaun Bentley at linebacker and a secondary consisting of Jason McCourty, Richards, Damarius Travis, Duke Dawson and J.C. Jackson.
-When Hoyer was operating the second unit, Tom Brady spent several minutes talking with Cordarrelle Patterson, gesturing with his hands most of the time. It appeared as if Brady was instructing the wideout on his routes and where the quarterback preferred to have specific breaks made. With Matthews out of the picture, Patterson may be leaned on more heavily to provide production in the passing game.
-Another wrinkle to the Patriots methods was seen when the running backs carried a ball that was tethered to a strap, allowing a ball boy to try to pull it out as they ran. Bolden secured the football effectively despite the best efforts of the ball boy to pry it free.
-Hogan and Edelman spent some time late in practice catching some short passes from the JUGS machine.
-As practice was coming to a close, Etling was leading the offense for what was supposed to be the final play before Belichick called the team in. Evidently the coach didn't like the way the group broke down and gathered around him because the entire team returned to their spots and watched Etling run another play. At that point the team once again jogged toward around Belichick and practice ultimately ended.
-Gronkowski and Van Noy spoke at the podium after practice. Others spending time with the media included Waddle, Develin, Dwayne Allen, Pleasant, Harmon, Clayborn, Jackson, Rowe, Rivers, McCarron and Berrios.
-The Patriots are scheduled to return to the practice field on Thursday at 9:15 a.m in Foxborough. As always, please check patriots.com for the latest schedule changes.