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Patriots a hit!; Day 3 camp blogservations

New England’s third day of camp action saw the team don full pads for a physical morning session in Foxborough.

Check out our favorite photos from Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, August 1, 2015.

A day after wearing jersey numbers on the practice field for the first time this offseason the Patriots really turned up their attire Saturday morning on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium with the team's first workout in full pads.

After the two days in shorts and helmets required by the league's CBA, Bill Belichick's defending champions hit the sunny, warm field for some real, physical work.

The addition of pads saw the team focus on the running game for much of the two-plus hour session, including segments of interior/8-on-7 group work as well as full squad, live goal line banging.

Part of the enjoyment of watching the running game action was the addition to the practice field of projected lead back LeGarrette Blount, who opened camp on the non-football injury list after reportedly failing the conditioning run prior to the start of camp.


Ironically, Blount looks leaner, quicker and faster this summer. He showed nice burst in his first carries of camp action. He also put a nice move on linebacker Jamie Collins in one-on-one coverage drills that left the man who is arguably the team's best athlete in his dust grasping at air.

Beyond the hitting, the running game and Blount's impressive summer debut, here are one man's blogservations of some old-fashioned physical football practice:

--In case you missed it, New England's Offseason Award Winners were announced on Friday. The group of offseason program superstars includes Nate Ebner, Julian Edelman, Michael Hoomanawanui, Jonathan Freeny, Antonio Johnson, Eric Martin, Devin McCourty, Nate Solder and Bryan Stork.

--Beyond Blount's return from NFI, second-year defensive tackle Dominique Easley returned from the physically unable to perform list (PUP) to open camp. Easley was in full pads and took part in the practice.


--Linebacker Dont'a Hightower (labrum) and rookie defensive lineman Xzavier Dickson wore red, non-contact jerseys in the practice, as did the quarterbacks.

--The players remaining on PUP include Matthew Slater, Brandon LaFell, Dane Fletcher, Chris White, Ryan Wendell, Vince Taylor and Chris Jones. Matt Flynn, Caylin Hauptmann and Alan Branch remain on NFI. Branch, Taylor and Fletcher were on the field for warmups and stretching. Wendell was seen walking off the field later.

--Those players not on the field at all included Justin Green, Derek Cox, D.J. Lynch and AJ Derby. Lynch limped off during Friday's workout, while Cox left that practice early on his own after jogging down the sideline and down the steps to return to Gillette Stadium.

--Dekoda Watson is at least one player enjoying the weather this summer in Foxborough. Having spent the previous portions of his career at FSU, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Dallas the veteran certainly doesn't think it's been hot. In fact, he wore a hoodie under his pads on Saturday morning.

--Fletcher had a white hat hanging from his neck and behind him while on the field, one that brought back memories more of Gilligan's Island than what you'd expect on an NFL practice field for a player.


--Sebastian Vollmer was in full pads for the workout and took part in some pre-practice team action, but then dialed back his work the rest of the way and is certainly not a full go at this point coming back from offseason shoulder surgery.

--With Vollmer at right tackle in the early work, the line saw Nate Solder at left tackle, Shaq Mason at left guard, Bryan Stork at center and Tre' Jackson at right guard. Marcus Cannon took the reps with the group when Vollmer was watching from the side.

--Undrafted Auburn rookie Brandon King is listed as a safety on the roster, but the 6-2, 220-pounder does most of his practice work with the linebackers. Could be a depth thing at this point or it could be what Bill Belichick has in store for the young defender.

--New tight end Jake Bequette had a day for himself in the aforementioned one-on-one drill with the defenders, beating both Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson to make nice catches.

--Sealver Siliga had to take a penalty lap early in practice and the veteran not only lumbered slowly but also cut the corners of the lap rather severely. Blount also ran a penalty lap shortly thereafter.

--Jonathan Krause continues to struggle. The undrafted rookie had a throw from Jimmy Garoppolo zip right through his two hands in one group drill.

--Early running back reps in group action behind Tom Brady went, in order, to Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray, James White and LeGarrette Blount. Tyler Gaffney didn't get his touches till a bit later.

--During the interior running drill Siliga had a big hit on Gaffney. Then James Develin had a really nice block on linebacker James Morris. Overall, the defense won the day in the interior running game drill.

--The wide receivers did drill a in the red zone with two of the pass catchers going against three defensive backs, two corners and a safety. A group with Logan Ryan, Malcolm Butler and Devin McCourty did a nice job communicating and blanketing the combo of Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. Danny Amendola beat Tavon Wilson badly in the segment. Dobson made a nice contested catch against Jimmy Jean, but the receiver appeared to come down out of bounds in the back of the end zone.

--The tempo of the practice was a bit inconsistent early on. At least one fan near the media was heard grumbling about seeing too much standing around. Must be a guy used to Chip Kelly's practices.

--Rookie long snapper Joe Cardona was back deep catching Stephen Gostkowski's kickoffs as the kicker worked off to the side.


--Brian Tyms was looked at by trainer Jim Whalen during one-on-one drills with the cornerbacks, but the receiver came back for the next drill seemingly none the worse for wear.

--Develin had a bad fumble in an open-field tackling drill. The segment consisted of a ball carrier catching a pass and then turning up field with one defender trailing and another coming from the side.

--Brady went to the far field with his usual small group of receivers during the special teams segment. The group of targets included Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler and Aaron Dobson joined shortly thereafter by Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

--At the same time Garoppolo took what has become his usual spot with a group of coaches giving him a look of a secondary for pre- and post-snap reads and asking him for what he sees on a given play. Patriots Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio also takes part in giving Jimmy G. a look.

--Jerod Mayo was in full pads and took part in portions of the practice. He also spent some time riding a bike on the sidelines.

--Always worth noting which offensive players get run on the kickoff team, a unit generally heavily filled with defensive players like linebackers and secondary members. Tyms and Gray both saw kickoff coverage reps on Saturday.

--During another open-field tackling drill coaches would hit the ball carriers just after the catch and before they ran up field. Safety coach Brian Flores was one of those with the pads doing the hitting and took the job quite seriously, maybe using the opportunity to relieve some stress. Flores had some big pops, including nearly knocking Dion Lewis off his feet at one point.

--The ball boys once again used large paddles to give the look of defender's hands in seven-on-seven. Today, one actually got a piece of a Garoppolo throw.

--Antonio Johnson continues to get good reps at defensive tackle. The veteran newcomer did have to take a penalty lap for jumping offsides in a one-on-one drill with the offensive line.

--Stork has had a nice start to training camp in his second season. He had an impressive day in one-on-one battles. The center will be key this year given the potential youth and uncertainty at the guard position.

--Belichick became upset with his entire offense later in practice. Just after Jamie Collins forced an Aaron Dobson fumble the coach called the entire offensive group together for a chat. He then sent the unit on a penalty lap. Of course the lap may not have seemed like a penalty given that the crowd of fans basically gave the Brady-led group a standing ovation.

--Edelman actually did his own penalty lap just before the entire unit followed him.

--Robert Kraft once again was on the field for the second half of the workout. The owner got another solid ovation from the crowd, to which he responded by saluting the fans and clapping for them.


--Brady and Garoppolo switched groups a couple times to work with different faces, the former getting some run with the less experienced targets and the young passer a chance with the experienced pass catchers. Certainly didn't seem like any sort significant time with the "1s" for Garoppolo, though.

--Veteran offensive linemen Kevin Hughes left the field and returned to the locker room with trainer Joe Van Allen.

--Mason did a penalty lap.

--Hightower got beaten by Brandon Bolden in the one-on-one coverage work, but the linebacker almost gave up on the play the way Darrelle Revis did at times last summer as if to insinuate that the play would have already been over in a game setting.

--The battle at the safety position is worth watching in camp. While McCourty, Chung and Duron Harmon seem to be the top three, the depth roles may be up for grabs. The addition of Jordan Richards, who's had a very nice start to his rookie training camp, could mean that Ebner and Wilson are battling for their lives, even as special teams core players.

--Richards made a nice play breaking up a pass for Scott Chandler in the one-on-one work. He got his hands on the ball and the two actually batted it back and forth a bit before it fell incomplete. Richards has been around the ball a lot over the first three days.

--Brady badly underthrew White on a wheel route down the sideline as he got behind Morris. It was one of a couple poor deep balls by Brady on the day.

--What appeared to be first-year special teams coach Joe Judge's kids were called from the family tent area to come on the field and catch field goal attempts by Gostkowski at one point.


--Chandler beat Daxton Swanson down the field for a reception at one point and well after the play had ended the cornerback punched the ball loose. Sure you have to finish the play, but it seemed like an uncool move by the DB.

--Malcom Brown looked solid taking on double teams in team action against the run. Brown has been getting early defensive tackle reps with Siliga and Johnson.

--Freeny got some run next to Collins at inside linebacker in late team drills.

--The goal line segment unfortunately took place about as far away from the media tent as possible. Based on the reaction of the players during the drill the defense got the upper hand, keeping the running backs out of the end zone more often than not.

--For what it's worth, Jabaal Sheard has been manning the right wing spot on the field goal/PAT team that's been held in the past by Gronkowski and Chandler Jones.

--After practice a group of punt returners caught balls from the Jugs machine. That included Edelman, Amendola, Chris Harper, Patrick Chung, Robert McClain and Krause. Edelman tried to catch one with one hand and it went right through his hand to the ground. Unusual for him, as he's shown the ability to catch punts with multiple balls in his hands.

--Brady and Garoppolo were among the players who signed autographs for the crowd around the practice field after the morning session.

--Those players speaking with the media after the practice included Blount, Jackson, Mason, Johnson, McCourty and others.

--The Patriots will return to the Gillette Stadium practice fields again Sunday morning at 9:15 a.m. for another session that is open to the public. Check for any potential last minute schedule changes.

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