Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Patriots signed rookie offensive lineman Derek Dennis on Thursday. Dennis was released by the Miami Dolphins on the first day of training camp after the Dolphins signed veteran lineman Eric Steinbach. "The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Dennis started all 13 games at left guard for Temple in his final season," writes Reiss. "He also played center and tackle during his college career, making 37 career starts." Dennis will have to sit out three days before officially practicing with the team, per NFL rules.
Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots also added offensive lineman Dustin Waldron on Thursday by claiming him off waivers after he was released from the Miami Dolphins. "Like Dennis, Waldron is viewed as a camp body, but Waldron was the better prospect coming out in the draft," writes Bedard. Bedard notes that New England placed offensive lineman Jamey Richard on injured reserve to make room for Waldron. The Patriots also took offensive lineman Nick McDonald off the PUP list on Thursday after he passed his physical.
Mike Rodak of ESPNBoston.com reports that wide receivers Jabar Gaffney and Deion Branch both left practice early on Thursday. For Branch, it was the second straight day he has departed early from practice. Rodak observes that Gaffney "was sitting with towels over his head" before leaving practice, so it may have been a "heat-related issue." Rodak writes that the Patriots dialed back the intensity on Thursday, practicing in shorts and light shoulder pads after four straight days of full-pad practice. Rodak also writes that receiver Brandon Lloyd, safety Will Allen, and defensive end Jonathan Fanene did not practice for the second straight day.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald writes that the Patriots defense will hinge on several players who came into the NFL with high expectations. "The defense includes five first-round picks and six second-rounders, and that's only including the homegrown players in training camp," writes Howe. Among these high draft picks are rookies Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower as well as more experienced players Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Devin McCourty. Howe writes that it comes down to "performance and execution" for these players, and that there should be "a heightened level of expectation based on their draft stock" if they remain healthy.
Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe writes that safety Tavon Wilson has been impressive early on in training camp. Benjamin writes that the second-round pick out of Illinois "has been getting a significant amount of reps in training camp so far" and has played at "multiple positions in the defensive backfield, including special teams." Head coach Bill Belichick has also praised Wilson's performance. "Tavon works hard," Belichick tells Benjamin. "He's very attentive, he asks good questions, he really pays attention and he's a hard working kid, both on and off the field."