Five notes from the third day of New England Patriots Training Camp:
1. Patriots 'Padded Up' For First Time In Camp
Due to a rule in the new CBA, the Patriots could not practice with pads until after the first two days of camp. As expected, they all wore pads on Saturday. With pads being worn, there were several contract drills being run. Second-year corner Ras-I Dowling and veteran safety Pat Chung both had a big hits on Stevan Ridley. Julian Edelman had a few nice tackles as a defender and on Special Teams. As Nick Caserio pointed out today, the use of pads adds a "new dynamic" to practicing.
2. Rob Gronkowski Hit In Chin, Returns Shortly After
During a drill, the Patriots' star tight end appeared to suffer a blow to his chin area. He was removed from action and left with a team trainer to patch it up. Gronk returned within 15 minutes and got back onto the field shortly after. He sported just a bandage on the chin, and looked good the rest of the way.
During defensive drills, Patriots undrafted rookie free agent Justin Francis suffered what appeared to be a knee injury. The injury was serious enough, that he had to be carted off the field. Veteran linebacker Tracy White also left the field with an unknown injury. Both did not return to action.
4. Alfonzo Dennard, Others Remain Sidelined
After suffering what appeared to be a right hamstring injury on Friday, Patriots rookie corner Alfonzo Dennard was sporting a t-shirt and shorts today--spending the majority of his time on a stationary bike. Dennard was joined by Jeremy Ebert, Nate Ebner, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins, Nick McDonald, Myron Pryor and Markus Zusevics.
In every account that I've read from training camp thus far, the player that is impressing everyone the most is wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. In his first season with the Patriots, Lloyd is poised for his best year yet. Lloyd and quarterback Tom Brady connected on many pass plays on Saturday, one went for a deep touchdown. It's still early to tell, but a relationship is forming between the two. Could be a tremendous year for Lloyd and the rest of the wide receivers.