New England Patriots Links 8/07/12 - Saints Will Test Progress of Pats' Secondary

Devin McCourty says defensive back isn't so much a position as a mindset, and theirs is focused on being more aggressive this year.

Greg A. Bedard tells us what went on at Monday's practice.

TOP PLAYS

LB Jerod Mayo blew through a hole and whacked RB Danny Woodhead for a loss, and then did the same to Steven Ridley on 2d-and-goal from the 2 in goal line.

On third-and-goal from the 1, Brady easily found TE Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown against Devin McCourty. Earlier, Brady praised Gronkowski for his nifty catch in the seam against S Nate Ebner.

CB Malcolm Williams got the crowd going when he took TE Alex Silvestro to the turf with power during a tackling drill.

THUMBS UP

CB Ras-I Dowling continues to make progress. Physically, he has been much-improved from where he was in the off-season practices, and now he has started making plays on the ball. On Sunday he had an interception, and on Monday he made a terrific break on a pass in the flat from Brady to Brandon Lloyd. Dowling jumped it like he knew it was coming – that’s an advantage vets use during camp because they can identify the route combinations – but after practice he said he broke so fast because he was reading Brady. Next progress point for Dowling: performing against the Saints.

THUMBS DOWN

The ball was on the ground too many times today for the passing offense. And it wasn’t the QBs being off, as it has been previously. There were four drops of passes that were right on the money, into a deep pass from Brady to Lloyd that should have been a touchdown.

Mike Petraglia details ten things we learned Monday at training camp.

TAKEDOWN: There were some good battles in one-on-one tackling drills, including a nice, clean shot by safety Malcolm Williams on newly-minted tight end Alex Silvestro, as Williams wrapped him up at the waist and drove him to the ground. Ross Ventrone stuck with the speedy Wes Welker on another good battle while Aaron Hernandez eluded Tavon Wilson.

GETTING DEFENSIVE: The defense continues to look a step ahead of the offense as they consistently displayed the ability to break up the offense’s rhythm in down-and-distance situations. Brady looked for Brandon Lloyd on a route near the far sideline and Ras-I Dowling stepped up and knocked down the pass on a third down situation. On another play, Brady looked deep for Julian Edelman on a post route, only to have Sergio Brown get his hand on it and knock it away.

DEFENSIVE GROUPINGS: The defense began to show a few more looks to the offense in Monday’s practice. With Brandon Spikes not at practice, Jerod Mayo was moved to the weakside linebacker spot while rookie Dont’a Hightower was moved from weak side to inside. Rob Ninkovich continued to man the outside while Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love worked on two-down schemes, with rookie defensive end Chandler Jones off his hands on the right side. The Patriots also featured some nickel packages for the first time as Devin McCourty and Ras-I Dowling get extensive looks on the corners and Kyle Arrington played the "star" or slot defensive back position.

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