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Kicking in the lights; Patriots practice 6 camp blogservations

New England focuses on kicking game in annual night practice.

The New England Patriots held a special Training Camp practice for season ticket members inside Gillette Stadium on Wednesday, August 5, 2015.

The Patriots moved the practice action onto the game field for the team's annual nighttime training camp practice inside Gillette Stadium on Wednesday.

The two-hour session took place in helmets, shorts and shells, the team's first workout in less than full pads since be allowed to don them for the third day of camp.

The session took place in front of a large crowd that occupied nearly the entire lower bowl, adding a bit of noise and energy not yet experienced in camp.

The action on the field, though, was a bit less intense given the attire and the fact that the likes of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (Julian Edelman was absent for the second straight day) took very limited reps. That left plenty of work for second-year quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and a group of pass catchers looking to make their mark.


Garoppolo didn't have his best day, continuing to have slow reads and slow deliveries to his intended targets. While he did hit a couple deep balls to Josh Boyce and had a couple nice completions to his running backs for the most part it was a less than stellar passing performance.

There was also a major focus on the kicking game in all phases. While a usual summer practice has a single area of special teams focus, Wednesday night saw action in all areas of kickoff, punt, punt return, kickoff return, field goal and PAT, as well as more unique situations such as free kicks.

Beyond the game-night feel and focus on the kicking game, here are one man's blogservations from the Gillette Stadium press box:

--A total of 16 players missed the workout

--Six players remain on PUP (Matthew Slater, Brandon LaFell, Dane Fletcher, Chris White, Ryan Wendell and Chris Jones). Three guys remain on NFI (Matt Flynn, Caylin Hauptmann and Alan Branch).

--Those players not practicing included Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, Tyler Gaffney, Darius Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Joe Vellano and Brian Tyms.

New additions to the absentee list included Tyms, Lewis and Fleming. Tyms was carted off the field on Tuesday after suffering an apparent upper body injury in a breakoff tackling drill.

--Dont'a Hightower remains in a red, non-contact jersey.


--After seemingly sitting out the final few reps on Tuesday with a sore right arm, Rob Gronkowski was on the field but didn't seem to do much at all other than watch throughout the practice.

--Jerod Mayo had a lot of energy in early practice stretching and running. The veteran linebacker was running all over the field and weaving through his teammates. The captain has had an impressive summer coming off a torn patella and seems to be very much enjoying his return to the field after missing the bulk of the last two seasons on injured reserve. He's also been very physical this summer, showing no limitations in his return.

--Danny Amendola, James White and Chris Harper were back returning punts in pre-practice special teams action.

--For the punt team, Nate Ebner worked as the personal protector. Interestingly, Ebner lines up to the left of center, behind the left guard rather than in the more customary spot behind the right guard.


--With LaFell and Edelman absent, the trio of receivers working with Tom Brady in pre-practice team action included Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Brandon Gibson.

--Sebastian Vollmer took some reps in the team work early at right tackle. With Cannon still missing, Cameron Fleming took most of the reps with that unit opposite Nate Solder.

--The defensive line did a drill with the one-man sled in which the players held the sled up in the air until a runner declared which side they needed to shed to.

--During kickoff work Brady chatted on the sideline with Jonathan Kraft.

--In 11-on-11 work Brandon Bolden beat Jamie Collins down the right sideline for a catch from Garoppolo.

--Josh Kline took reps at center in front of Garoppolo in 11-on-11 work.

--Giving a game-like feel, a portion of the End Zone Militia was on the field for the practice.

--Kickoff return work included Danny Amendola paired with James Develin and Travaris Cadet alongside Robert McClain. Develin did a nice job fielding a pooch kick on the run at one point after which Belichick gave him some one-on-one coaching.

--The kick work also involved some free kicks from the 20-yard line.


--The cornerbacks in 11-on-11 work had Malcolm Butler and Bradley Fletcher on the outside with Logan Ryan in the slot. Dominque Easley was taking reps in the middle of the defensive front in the drill.

--Brady spent time chatting with Ernie Adams while watching the 11-on-11 action at one point. Adams rarely interacts with players on the field during practice.

--Amendola was the first guy back deep during punt return segment. He was followed up by Chris Harper and then James White.

--With Kline getting work at center, undrafted rookie David Andrews took some reps at left guard in team action. Andrews had to take a penalty lap for a false start on one of his reps at the spot.

--Garoppolo has been working on a type of sprint-draw play at times in recent practices, not something we've seen from Brady too often if at all over the years.

--Brandon Gibson had a bad drop over the middle from Garoppolo. The veteran has been up and down of late.

--If Travaris Cadet can pass protect, then he can play for the Patriots offense. He has good hands, nice burst and very good field vision. But he needs to prove he can line up behind the quarterback and fulfill all the roles of a true passing back in the New England offense.

--Trey Flowers did a nice job sniffing out a screen pass in one team rep, but the rookie didn't have the athleticism to get to the back before he caught the pass and turned up field for a long gain.

--During team punt return team reps Patrick Chung followed Amendola and then Harper took his turn.

--Stephen Gostkowski ended the practice with a 52-yard field goal at the open end of the stadium with the kick missing wide right. Gostkowski also took a number of PATs, our first chance to see the longer 1-point attempt in the stadium.


--Patriots new Hall of Fame inductee Willie McGinest was on the field for the latter part of the practice as were a slew of former Patriots including Matt Chatham, Ty Law, Richard Seymour, Roman Phifer, Thomas Clayton, Niko Koutouvides, Troy Brown and others.

--Players signed autographs after the practice for fans surrounding the entire field.

--Bill Belichick, Jabaal Sheard, Garoppolo, LeGarrette Blount and Chandler Jones spoke with the media on the field after the practice.

--New England will return to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium Thursday afternoon at 1:45 p.m. for another practice session that's open to the general public. As always, be sure to check for any last minute schedule changes.

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