The temperatures soared on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium on Saturday morning and despite the fact that the Patriots were not in pads, so did the intensity.
Camp had its first significant fight – a brief one between Malcom Brown and Ryan Groy that ended with both being sent to the locker room – but more interestingly the day featured some spirited play. Wearing helmet, shells and shorts, the Patriots offered some spirited play featuring some solid moments of both sides of the ball.
Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo each had success in the passing game at times, and the defense did a great job of locking things down especially in the red zone.
One real positives of the day was the presence of LeGarrette Blount, who was a full participant after doing mostly conditioning work in recent practices. He took part in both 7-on-7 and full team work. It will be interesting to see if he's cleared for full contact next week in West Virginia after suffering a knee injury earlier in camp.
"It's always good to go out there and bang against different guys," Blount said of the possibility of working against the Saints. "Me personally I like to go out there and work against other players and teams to see what they're doing."
Blount looked like he picked right up where he left off before the injury, gliding around the field with quickness and seemingly unaffected physically.
Here are one man's blogservations from training camp practice, the Patriots 12th and final one conducted in front of fans in Foxborough.
Check out our favorite photos from Patriots Training Camp on Saturday, August 15, 2015 at Gillette Stadium.
-The injury list continues to be worth monitoring. There were some changes to the list as Logan Ryan, James White, Darryl Roberts, Dekoda Watson, Rufus Johnson and Trey Flowers all missed their first practice. Ryan mentioned that he was expecting the birth of his first child so that may have been the reason for his absence. White, Roberts, Johnson and Flowers all were banged up in the Packers game.
In addition Travaris Cadet, Marcus Cannon, Bryan Stork, Joe Vellano and Jake Bequette did not practice. The PUP – Brandon LaFell, Ryan Wendell, Dane Fletcher and Chris Jones – and NFI lists – Caylin Hauptmann – remained unchanged. Stork, Cannon and Nate Solder were all present but went to the lower field for some conditioning work. Scott Chandler, Eric Martin, Cadet, Aaron Dobson and Fletcher also were present on the lower field.
Dont'a Hightower, who's been in a red, non-contact jersey throughout camp, donned his normal blue No. 54 uniform.
-Casey Walker, the defensive lineman who was signed Aug. 14 after a brief stint with the team in 2014, was present wearing No. 65. He did not appear to get many reps in his first day on the field with the team.
-During positional drills early in practice Joe Judge and Ray Ventrone worked with a small group on some special teams techniques. Brandon King, Zach D'Orazio, L.J. Fort and James Morris were joined by Jabaal Sheard. Sheard worked on punt protection as one of the in-line blockers and Judge refined his footwork during the drill. At one point Bill Belichick offered some instruction as he oversaw the operation.
-Chris Harper enjoyed a solid debut against the Packers by catching all seven passes thrown his way. He continued that momentum Saturday with a terrific catch on a deep ball from Jimmy Garoppolo when he high-pointed the ball perfectly in the end zone. His catch drew loud cheers from a pair of spectators donning No. 14 Harper jerseys in the VIP area – and the rookie wideout spent some time with his family after practice.
-Matthew Slater also lost his red jersey, but more interestingly he took full part in the offense as a receiver. He even caught a perfectly thrown bomb from Tom Brady for touchdown after he beat Robert McClain.
-Cornerback Tarell Brown was active early in practice working on the right side with Malcolm Butler on the left. They operated in a group that included Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon. Unfortunately Brown was unable to finish the practice as he left about midway through with a trainer. It was difficult to determine if he was dealing with lingering effects of the foot problem that has limited him or if it was unrelated.
-The secondary had some different looks throughout the day, and when the defense used extra defensive backs most of them were safeties. In addition to McCourty and Harmon, Jordan Richards and Patrick Chung were all on the field as part of a dime package. It looked like McCourty was playing corner as he was on the outside while Butler and Robert McClain were on the left and in the slot, respectively. Not sure if McCourty is being primed to play corner or not but something worth noting.
-Jonathan Krause made a nice leaping catch along the back line of the end zone. Krause has had trouble catching the ball at times during camp so it was nice to see the first-year wideout have a positive moment.
-On the flip side, D'Orazio looked like a beaten man after not being able to hold onto a slant down the seam. D'Orazio lunged forward and Ryan Lindley's pass went off his finger tips and he landed with a dive. He took a moment before rising to his feet, and as he walked to the next drill he looked quite dejected.
-Jamie Collins continues to amaze with his athleticism. Garoppolo scrambled to his right during a 7-on-7 rep and tried to force one in the red zone. Collins leaped and picked off the pass, showing his mobility and play-making ability in the process.
-During a ball carrying drill where two defenders try to strip the ball loose, Butler was able to take it away from Harper. Harper then ran a lap.
-The kick return unit got some work as Danny Amendola and Josh Boyce took turns as the lead returners. Amendola was joined by Slater as the up man while Boyce was with both James Develin and McClain. Tavon Wilson, Jonathan Freeny, Jimmy Jean, Darius Fleming, Brandon Bolden, Morris and Nate Ebner all got work up front during the period.
-Garoppolo ran some option looks, faking a handoff to Develin before pitching to Blount on one play during 11-on-11 action. On the next snap he offered more of a traditional read option look. Perhaps the coaches would like to utilize Garoppolo's mobility on a more regular basis should he be forced to play.
-Lindley took some more regular reps during 11-on-11 and looked more comfortable. Not all of his throws were the on the mark but his timing was improved and he was able to complete a handful of throws as well.
-Brady got hot working behind an offensive line that included Chris Barker, Shaq Mason, Josh Kline, David Andrews and Cameron Fleming. He hit Amendola deep across the middle before finding Brian Tyms on an in-cut on the next play. Later he hooked up with Amendola again as the timing of the entire offense appeared much more in synch than we've seen recently.
-The offense was slowed a bit during some hurry-up work later on. The coaches blew at least two plays dead for apparent sacks as receivers had a difficult time getting open consistently.
-Stephen Gostkowski ended things with several field goals. The special teams worked on blocking some kicks as Jabaal Sheard was able to break through several times. Three kicks were blocked on plays that were likely scripted.
-The players spent time tackling dummies and knocking the ball loose in the process. After the tackle the player immediately sprung to his feet for the scoop and score opportunity.
-Chandler Jones, Blount, McCourty and Sheard were among those who spent time chatting with the media after practice.
-Saturday was the final training camp practice open to the public. The players will be off on Sunday and return to practice on Monday and Tuesday before departing for West Virginia for pair of practices with the Saints prior to the teams' matchup on Aug. 22.