Tom Brady has been the focus of fans and media alike all summer long.
But that was not the case Tuesday afternoon on the rainy practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. That's because No. 12 was nowhere to be found during the cool, two-hour afternoon session. And because of the conditions, the practice was closed to the public.
ESPNBoston.com reported that Brady's absence was not an injury issue but rather was related to his scheduled appearance Wednesday in New York for a settlement conference in conjunction with his legal battle with the NFL regarding his four-game suspension.
With Brady out of the picture, that meant the bulk of the practice passing reps went to second-year backup Jimmy Garoppolo. Unfortunately – and not totally due to the understudy's own failings – the passing game throughout the full-pads session was less than crisp.
It was another session where too many of Garoppolo's throws were late, incomplete or even intercepted.
It was also another day where the former second-round pick seemed to spend every second not under center working with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels off to the side. McDaniels was seen a number of times very vocally and demonstratively instructing his young pupil. This is not something that's been a common occurrence in past summers with past backups.
Newly signed third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley was also on the field. The bulk of Lindley's practice reps seemed to come running a scout unit for the defense in which the passer's offensive group ran plays off cards. Lindley did get some reps in the 7-on-7 opportunity portion late in practice.
Beyond the rainy day and raining down of incomplete passes, here are one man's blogservations from the crowded but dry environment of the media tent:
--Brady was far from the only player missing from the practice, as New England's list of absentees remains quite large with 21 players out of action.
Brandon LaFell, Dane Fletcher, Ryan Wendell and Chris Jones remain on PUP. Caylin Hauptmann remains on NFI.
The list of players not taking part in the practice included Julian Edelman, Brady, Aaron Dobson, LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, Tyler Gaffney, Travaris Cadet, Marcus Cannon, Bryan Stork, Eric Martin, Joe Vellano, Nate Solder, Jake Bequette, Scott Chandler, Rob Ninkovich and Alan Branch.
Many of the players not taking part in the workout were on the field in some form and, literally, fashion. Blount was in full pads before going to the indoor practice field and then, later, leaving the field to go to Gillette.
Branch was in full pads before doing conditioning work on the Revs field and working by himself on the sled.
Check out our favorite photos from Patriots Training Camp on Tuesday, August 11 2015 at Gillette Stadium.
Chandler was on the field wearing gray sweats and watching the offense.
Ninkovich was in helmet, pads and jersey but no practice pants. He didn't appear to take any reps in group or team action.
Martin and Lewis were among those doing conditioning work in uniform, but not taking part in practice.
Solder and Bequette were the two newest additions to the injured list. Solder left practice early on Monday, while Bequette did not seem to participate in that session though he was in full pads and uniform.
--Beyond the quarterbacks, Dont'a Hightower, Matthew Slater and Brian Tyms remain in red, non-contact jerseys.
--The defensive backs worked on locating the football with a drill in early practice group work. The drill had the players do a complete spin in place before attempting to locate a pass and make the play. There were a number of drops in the drill. The defensive backs continue to do pushups after dropping passes.
--Another cornerback drill involved the players running deep down the sideline like they were trailing a receiver. The passer – actually Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio – would then throw a deep ball. But the players weren't allowed to turn and try to locate the ball until a coach yelled for them to do so. It did look like a couple of players tried to turn their heads a bit early to cheat.
--Worth noting that James Develin takes the first rep as a ball carrier in every segment of open-field tackling/special teams work during every practice. Not a huge thing, but it's the type of thing a hard working leader does.
--Daboll played a little hot potato with tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui on the far field during a special teams segment.
--Garoppolo did have his moments, even if they were too far apart. He made a nice touchdown throw early in practice rolling to his right and throwing on the run in the red zone. He also had a nice tight-window score to Gronkowski just inside the left pylon in the red zone.
--Sebastian Vollmer was more active in the practice. He took his first full-team, full-contact reps of the summer at right tackle. His return comes as his bookend mate Solder left the field a day earlier and missed his first session of the summer.
--The offensive line in front of Garoppolo's reps often included, from left tackle to right, Chris Barker, Shaq Mason, David Andrews, Tre' Jackson and Vollmer/Cameron Fleming.
--Garoppolo had a swing pass go right over Jonas Gray's head at one point in the right flat that the running back was not prepared for. More receivers have been unprepared for throws in the first couple weeks of this training camp than I can remember in past years.
--Garoppolo also had a number of wounded-duck throws in the rain. Not an uncommon sight in such wet conditions, but also something to watch as he grows in his role with a team that often plays bad weather games at some point during many seasons. He has the unenviable task of potentially following up or filling in for arguably the best bad-weather quarterback in NFL history in Brady.
--Develin continues to take reps at the right wing spot on the field goal/PAT team, a role that has been held in the past by the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Chandler Jones.
--New running back addition Tony Creecy put the ball on the ground during the open-field tackling work.
--Tavon Wilson had an impressive day, finding himself in the right place at the right time. The safety hauled in an interception on a ball intended for Hoomanawanui that the tight end deflected to lead to the turnover.
--Garoppolo spent one entire special teams segment working 1-on-1 with McDaniels.
--While the backup got a lot of time with the offensive coordinator, Lindley got a lot of 1-on-1 time with offensive coaching assistant Jerry Schuplinski.
--James White was back deep for some punt return reps. The second-year running back dropped an attempt that bobbled around at his feet before he picked it up and returned it. Amendola also took his usual return reps.
--Joe Cardona had one noticeable low snap to Ryan Allen in the punting action. The rookie fifth-round pick has not been as consistent with his snaps in his first training camp as one might expect from the best long snapper in college football. He hasn't been bad, just not as consistently perfect as might be expected for the only long snapper in camp who's never seen a single NFL snap.
--The punt return unit worked on blocking some kicks. Jordan Richards had one that he "blocked" off Allen's foot and then scooped up for a would-be touchdown. Josh Boyce had a block as well, with Logan Ryan doing the scooping for the scoring.
--Duron Harmon, Jimmy Jean and Darryl Roberts took reps as vice guys. Random question, if they don't double team the gunner are they still called vice guys? Can't really have a vice that only squeezes from one side. (Yes, camp is wearing on my wandering brain.)
--The red-clad Slater and Tyms took reps as gunners for the scout punt team.
--Malcolm Butler continues to be entrenched at left corner, with Ryan getting the reps on the other side on Tuesday.
--Devin McCourty had an interception of a Garoppolo throw down the left seam.
--With Ninkovich doing very little, Jabaal Sheard held down the left end spot.
--Develin, Gronkowski and Hoomanawanui ran together doing conditioning work a couple different times in the practice when they weren't involved in the regular practice action.
--Lindley threw a pass to a crossing Zach D'Orazio that went right through the receivers hands, drawing an obvious vocal reaction/suggestion from Belichick.
--Wilson continued his playmaking ways with what may have been the play of the day late in practice in 11-on-11 action. A Lindley throw was deflected by Darryl Roberts before being hauled in by the second-year safety.
--Wilson is part of a seemingly very competitive battle for playing time next to McCourty. Patrick Chung is very much in the mix after his impressive return to New England in 2014. Rookie second-round pick Richards has gotten a lot of reps and been relatively impressive. Wilson has shown up and made plays, although he's struggled mightily in battles with Gronkowski. (Who doesn't?) Duron Harmon is also in the mix.
--One note on Harmon. Late in practice there was an "opportunity" 7-on-7 segment for young, new or unproven players. Harmon took part in the drill with Richards and Nate Ebner, while more polished defensive backs like McCourty, Ryan, Butler, Chung, Tarell Brown stretched on the opposite field. May or may not be an indication of Harmon's status at this point heading into his third preseason.
--Garoppolo did have a nice timing throw down the left sideline, dropping it into the waiting hands of White as the back got behind Trey Flowers. Flowers is a college defensive end who is getting his chance to also prove himself playing on two feet at times early in his first training camp. Not too often you see No. 74 in coverage of No. 28 deep down the sideline.
--Linebacker L.J. Fort had an active practice. The second-year player out of Northern Iowa had a hit on Amendola after a catch and later showed some feistiness trying to pull the ball out of Brandon Bolden's hands at the end of a play. Might be a guy to keep an eye on in preseason action.
--Tyms had a bad drop on a throw from Lindley that looked almost like a volleyball player trying to set the ball for a spike or a guy taking part in a tip drill.
--Things were so shaky at times for the offense and the passing game that even Gronkowski had a couple drops.
--There was a scout from the CFL at the workout. There were also members of the MIT coaching staff in attendance.
--Robert McClain, Jonathan Krause and Chris Harper once again took some punt return reps from the Jugs machine after practice under the close watch of special teams coach Joe Judge.
--Lindley stayed out late after practice taking snaps from Josh Kline and working with Schuplinski.
--NFLN's Heath Evans was in attendance once again.
--Those players chatting with the media after the workout included Garoppolo, Lindley, Develin, Allen and others. Rob Gronkowski did a 1-on-1 with NFL Network.
--The Patriots will next take the field Thursday night inside Gillette Stadium in the preseason opener against the Packers.