The Patriots just wrapped up their seventh day of training camp, a "special" practice of sorts, taking place in Gillette Stadium with season ticket holders in attendance. Here's what happened:
- There was a particular emphasis on rules changes and player safety, with referees taking in and officiating the practice.
- With players in shorts and shells, Much of the practice focused on individual match-ups and situational football, without live tackling. In wide receiver/defensive back and running back/linebacker receiver drills, Rob Gronkowski stepped up making some nice catches, beating Dane Fletcher and Sergio Brown on two different plays. In goal line work, Gronkowski had a nice "post up" on Patrick Chung.
- While the offense struggled at times with many passes off the mark, Taylor Price came up with one nice deep catch.
- Taylor Price actually had two deep grabs on the day, coming up with another one later that had two in coverage, including James Sanders.
- Defensively, rookie free agent linebacker Aaron Lavarias had a great break-up on a Gronkowski intended pass.
- The play of the day once again went to Chad Ochocinco, who made a terrific catch over a perfectly positioned Jonathan Wilhite on a deep pass from Tom Brady down the left sideline.
- When the team broke into a "hurry up" drill, Tom Brady found some success early. He found Rob Gronkowski on consecutive plays, including one deep one down the seam. Brady also found Ochocinco on that drive.
- Brian Hoyer's drive wasn't as successful, ending with a deep attempt to Taylor Price, who got his hands on the ball, but failed to make what would have been a miraculous catch.
- Brady continued his success on the next drive. He found a wide open Wes Welker across the middle, and later found Chad Ochocinco on an out, with Devin McCourty in blanket coverage.
- In a return to seven on sevens, the defense got the better of the offense. Leigh Bodden nearly came up with an interception on a pass intended for Chad Ochocinco. I said it yesterday, but Bodden has had a very impressive start to camp.
- Pat Chung had a couple of nice breakups. At one point, he ripped a pass from Buddy Farnham's hands. At another point, he swatted away a pass intended for Deion Branch over the middle.
- Ryan Mallett had an up-and-down day. On some throws, he really showcased his powerful arm. In an opportunity session at the end of practice, he found Darnell Jenkins in the end zone on two beautifully thrown bombs. At other times, he let the ball get away from him. One example came in the 7 vs. 7 work. The coaches thew a "bag" at him. He was hit, then stepped up to avoid the pressure. While scrambling, he forced the ball into coverage and it was nearly intercepted by Sergio Brown. Overall, none of the quarterbacks looked too accurate today, although they had their moments.
- Although Ryan Mallett had one bad throw while scrambling, Tom Brady, surprisingly, made a good one in red zone 7 vs. 7 work. Brady got himself time, scrambled to the left, and threaded the needle to Rob Gronkowski.
- Brandon Spikes has impressed a lot of people with his elevated play thus far in training camp. He's now impressed me with his autograph signing patience. Spikes, helmet still donned, just signed autographs for an hour following practice. No joke, an hour (at least). Impressive stuff.
The Patriots will be practicing again tomorrow at 4:30 PM (if CBA is ratified, that time could be moved up). Of course, we'll have it covered here at Pats Pulpit so keep checking back!