After a change in plans the media was allowed to observe one final training camp practice on Sunday afternoon in a windy and sun-splashed Foxborough. The Patriots wore helmets and shells after donning only helmets on Friday inside Gillette Stadium.
So, with two straight non-contact practices sandwiched around a day off it is likely that Bill Belichick intends to get started in earnest on Monday with his preparations for Miami and Seattle, the Patriots first two opponents.
Until then there weren't a ton of notable goings-on Sunday. A handful of players were limited and went to the lower fields for some conditioning work, a group that included but was not limited Devin McCourty, Julian Edelman and Adrian Phillips. Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers took part in the session but wore a red, non-contact jersey. He spoke with the media after practice and expressed some frustration about the undisclosed injury that has cost him some time this summer.
There was a lot of 11-on-11 work with the offense and defense working against scout teams for the most part. Cam Newton continues to get plenty of work and he also continues to look more comfortable in the offense. While the tempo was not ratcheted up as high as we've seen on some days, Newton delivered the ball quickly and seems to be getting more comfortable in the system.
That was especially true whenever he targets Mohamed Sanu. The two spent a lot of time together at practice and they connected on a handful of throws on Sunday. With Edelman not taking any reps, it appeared that Sanu was the lead receiver.
Practice ended with some two-minute drills with Newton and Brian Hoyer each leading a drive. Newton found Devin Asiasi on a cross to start his drive. He then completed an out to N'Keal Harry, who made a nice adjustment after slipping while coming out of his break but still managed to make the catch from his knees. A couple of short tosses to Sanu led to a Newton spike at the 31 to set up a 49-yard field goal, which Nick Folk clanked off the right upright. That was Folk's only miss in five attempts, however.
The same cannot be said of Justin Rohrwasser, who made just two of his six attempts. The rookie missed three straight from 48 yards, hooking all three to the left. Then he came up short from 54 yards out to cap Hoyer's two-minute drive to end practice.
It would appear that Folk has the edge in that matchup and it's possible that Rohrwasser could be headed for the practice squad, although there's still a couple of weeks before that decision needs to be made.
With 16 practices now in the books, here are some observations from the final one we had the opportunity to watch.
*Harry worked with Matthew Slater and Cody Davis blocking punts early in practice. Harry lined up off the edge and Davis served as the blocker while the wideout would vary his rushes from inside to outside. His strength and athleticism could be valuable in a role that the Patriots had a lot of success with a season ago. Slater worked up some inside rushes up the middle.
*When the special teams came together later in practice Jake Bailey seemed to be working on lot on directional kicks. He appeared frustrated with himself after one short one to the right, and he evidently took out some of that anger on his next attempt, which he sent flying into orbit roughly 65 yards downfield. Gunner Olszewski was on his horse backpedaling to his goal line to snag it.
*The defensive linemen work on recovering fumbles during one of their warm-up drills. The ball would be "fumbled" near the goal line and the players had to deflect them back into the field of play, where they could potentially be recovered by teammates. It's always fun to watch 300-plus pound men trying to get the football in their hands.
*During the special teams work, Newton and the rest of the quarterbacks spent time with Sanu, Sony Michel, James White, Asiasi and Meyers. Newton threw a few balls to Asiasi during the side session, and the rookie looks like he will be a part of the Patriots passing game this fall.
*Not sure who was responsible for the song list at Sunday's practice but the old school dance music was a personal highlight of camp. Plenty of upbeat tunes including Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson and other '70s and '80s legends were prevalent throughout. The Patriots.com reporters weren't the only ones who seemed to enjoy it as several players were seen dancing on the field as they made their way to various drills throughout the afternoon.
*In addition to Meyers, Olszewski, Jonathan Jones, Joe Thuney, D'Angelo Ross and Michael Onwenu all spoke with the media via video conference after practice.
*With the media's portion of training camp now complete, we will begin our regular-season mode of coverage on Monday with reporters limited to a small sampling of practice each day.