Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe reports that linebacker Brandon Spikes saw an increased workload in Tuesday's practice. Spikes is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and has seen limited time in practice, but Young reports that he was heavily involved in Tuesday's session, taking reps with the top defensive unit alongside fellow ex-SEC linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower. "It's kind of frustrating watching from the sideline but just to get out, run around, get a little contact, it feels good," Spikes told Young after Tuesday's practice. Young adds that Dane Fletcher had been playing middle linebacker in Spikes absence.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com notes that the competition in the trenches between offensive tackle Nate Solder and rookie defensive end Chandler Jones has become "one of the more entertaining duels of camp." In one-on-one lineman drills on Tuesday, Reiss notes that Jones "delivered one of the individual efforts of the day with an impressive push/pull move to knock Solder off balance and score the 'sack.'" Reiss also believes that defensive end Jermaine Cunningham has been impressive in one-on-ones, while on the other side of the ball he sees offensive guards Donald Thomas and Dan Connolly as standouts.
Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com sees running back Stevan Ridley as the frontrunner to fill former Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis' role as the "workhorse" back of the offense. "New England is determined to improve in all run areas over last year, when the Patriots passed on 54 percent of first downs," writes Kirwan. "Look for Ridley to carry the ball 12-14 times a game and be close to a 700-yard rusher." Kirwan adds that running backs Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead will likely contribute on draws, screens, and third-down situations, although they still "need some work in the physical aspect of the pass-protection game."
Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com writes that the Patriots top three projected cornerbacks all performed well in one-on-one drills with the wide receivers during Tuesday's practice. Kyle Arrington saw a number of reps in the slot, writes Yates, and although he was occasionally too physical, he "showed good strength through his core to generate his initial punch." Yates notes that Devin McCourty "made a nifty pass breakup on a ball thrown to the corner of the end zone," while Ras-I Dowling "held his own versus Brandon Lloyd" and showed the ability to "keep his receiver within reach."
Mark Daniels of the Boston Herald writes that defensive tackle Ron Brace is making the most of his playing time in training camp this summer. Brace has struggled in training camp in the past; he missed almost all of camp in 2010 after failing his conditioning test. Still, Daniels writes that Brace "got reps with the first unit alongside Vince Wilfork" on Tuesday and "showed good speed off the edge and broke through the line of scrimmage." "(I'm) just basically trying to work hard and get back out there and possibly being on that field," Brace told Daniels after Tuesday's practice.