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Defense a hit to open camp

Front seven impressive early on in Foxborough.

The New England defense had a variety of problems at various times last season.

One of the areas that was clearly targeted for some personnel turnover this spring was the defensive front where the Patriots signed free agent end Adrian Clayborn and traded for tackle Danny Shelton.

If the first couple days of padded practice are any indication, those additions – as well as the growth of some returning players -- could really pay off.

During Sunday morning's fourth day of training, second in full pads, the New England front was once again impressive. Nowhere was that more obvious than in a series of four stops in a live goal-line segment. Shelton and Clayborn were key on the first couple stops, while third-year linebacker Elandon Roberts came up with a huge hit on Brandon Bolden to stuff the veteran back as he bounced outside.

Four tries from the offense. Four stops from the defense.

"It felt good, because a goal line stop is a big stop," Roberts said afterwards. "It's live! It's time to go at it! Our offense against our defense. We going."

To be fair, the offense had its share of success on Saturday with a pretty easy Jeremy Hill touchdown run up the middle and a nice second-effort score from rookie Sony Michel.

Not today, though.

"Very important on the aspect that we're getting better," Deatrich Wise Jr. said of Sunday's success up front. "Getting better from yesterday and looking to improve from here on out."

Wise says that the impact of the veterans Clayborn and Shelton is already being felt.

"You have to add both of them," Wise said of key changes up front. "They both came in as vets, both experienced and they bring in their experience to this D-line. Experience that myself and other young guys may not have seen or may not know. They bring another part, another integral of the game that we can get better on."

Wise has had his own impact early in camp as one of the more active defenders through four days of practice action. Saturday he had maybe the signature play of summer to date when he put a hit on Hill in an interior running game drill that sent the 6-1, 230-pound back flying backwards through the air before the free agent newcomer landed squarely on his back.

"It was a little buzz around. It was just something that happened," Wise said. "It wasn't anything intentional or anything like that. Hopefully it got the juices flowing and set the tone for camp."

A day later the front kept the tone setting rolling on the goal line as the defense looks to rebound from some of its issues up front a year ago.

Check out our favorite photos from the fourth day of Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, July 29, 2018.

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