Field Yates observes none of the tight ends - Saints or Patriots - could be covered successfully, and more notes from today's practice.
Tight ends uncoverable. Though the Patriots offense endured struggles on Tuesday, the Saints were unable to find an answer for tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. That being said, the Patriots defense was unable to stay with Saints standout tight end Jimmy Graham throughout much of the day. We’ll later pass along Saints safety Roman Harper’s interesting breakdown of the three, which includes his thoughts on how they differ.
Opportunity period. The teams concluded practice with an opportunity session, pitting many of the Patriots' younger players against the Saints' young guys. Quarterback Ryan Mallett took the offensive reins, and probably as a result of the team’s thin depth at offensive tackle, Nate Solder was spotted on the field for a couple of reps as well. On the defensive side, linebacker Dane Fletcher and safety Steve Gregory had interceptions.
Hightower the re-router. Continue to be impressed with the re-route ability of rookie linebacker Dont’a Hightower. It doesn’t take a massive strike from the 22-year-old to move a receiver off of his spot, rather his strength looks so forceful that if he’s able to get his hands on a receiver, he usually disrupts his timing.
Brady picked twice. Tom Brady had an uncharacteristically up-and-down day, throwing a pair of interceptions. One was during a 7-on-7 session in the red zone, when he fired a throw right into the frame of Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton. Later, safety Malcolm Jenkins hauled in a Brady overthrow during 11-on-11 drills.
Arrington’s tough day. Cornerback Kyle Arrington has been building off of his 2011 campaign and looked sharp so far in training camp, but he was twice beaten during live drills, once on a deep throw to Saints wide receiver Joseph Morgan.
Play of the day. Brady’s day wasn’t all bad, as he mixed in a number of his typically laser-tight spirals, including an arcing bomb down the left sideline that Hernandez snared with one hand.
Situational play. Situational football has been a point of emphasis for the Patriots in recent days, and the two teams made sure to get in plenty of situational work on Tuesday. Of primary focus was first- and second-down offense (which often involves a good deal of running plays), as well as some red-zone work and punting from deep in their own territory.
Special teams focus. One nuance of the punt/punt return drill the teams conducted that we picked up on that stood out: As a method to put each team’s respective gunners to the test, the punt return team played with 12 players on the field, with two vices/hold-up players covering each gunner, as well as eight players rushing up the middle.
Jones raises up. Rookie defensive end Chandler Jones continues to show solid signs in both individual and team work. During an early 11-on-11 rep, he wasn’t able to generate enough of an upward push toward the quarterback, but raised his arms in the air so as to disrupt the throw of Drew Brees. Though he didn’t deflect the pass on the first go-round, a second rep employing the same maneuver paid off, as he swatted a Brees throw at the line of scrimmage.
Wilson blitzes. Second-round safety Tavon Wilson has shown a knack for a particular skill throughout camp: blitzing. He has impressive timing, a skill that usually derives from strong instincts. He’s also shown himself to be a forceful player, which could translate into sacks this season.
Moore’s ball skills stand out. Hard not to take notice of Sterling Moore’s consistent ball skills. He got his hands on a number of passes, including an end zone deflection that somehow ended up dropping into the hands of Saints receiver Joshua Morgan, who had actually dropped to the ground. Tough break for Moore, but he continues to dislodge balls and force incompletions. From this vantage point, he’s shown tremendous timing on his break-ups and finishes every play. Defensive backs know that no ball is secure until the play is over, and Moore is persistent in his defense.
Welker’s speed. Receiver Wes Welker has looked fast over the past few days. His route-running will remain his bread and butter as a receiver, but his speed is yet another factor defenses must account for.
Stallworth’s in-cutting success. Donte’ Stallworth continues to wreak havoc on defenses on in-cutting routes. Some of this can be attributed to the offensive scheme around him, but not to be lost is Stallworth’s technique. He does a great job of flattening out his route at the top of his break, not giving the defense a chance to close in on him across the middle.
Double moves for Pats receivers. We saw a steady dose of double moves from the Patriots receivers during one-on-ones, and it led to quite a bit of success. Not surprisingly, Brandon Lloyd’s technique stood out. His ability to deceive defenders with his footwork and body leveraging is unique.
- Erik Scalavino notes Tuesday's joint practice had a game-like atmosphere to it and was beneficial to both teams.
- Andy Hart notes both Brees and Brady struggled at times Tuesday, leading to incompletions and interceptions.
- Darren Hartwell notes the entertaining sessions featured high-powered offenses led by two of the league's best quarterbacks.
- Press Conference: Bill Belichick (5.45 min. video)
- Training Camp Quotes: Patriots and Saints.
- Patriots Today - The Saints come marching in. (1 min. video)
- Patriots Today - Tuesday's extra points. (2.28 min. video)
- Patriots Today - A busy day for Robert Kraft. (1.34 min. video)
- Locker Room Uncut - Reaction from joint practice. (3.24 min. video)
- Player Interviews: Vince Wilfork (2.58 min.), Donte' Stallworth (1.59 min.), Sterling Moore (1.19 min.) and Rob Gronkowski (5.51 min.)
- Training Camp-cast - Tuesday. (11.24 min. program)
- PFW in Progress - The PFW crew update us on all the latest camp news. (2 hour program)
- Mike Reiss gives the Saints the nod after the first joint practice Tuesday afternoon, as Brady and the offense weren't as sharp as they needed to be.
- Greg A. Bedard notes both offenses were strong in WR/CB one-on-ones and in 7-on-7, but the Saints really dominated in 11-on-11 drills.
- Jeff Howe details what happened at the Pats-Saints first fully-padded practice.
- Field Yates gives us a chronological rundown of Tuesday's two-hour practice.
- Jeff Howe reviews the play of Tom Brady and Drew Brees yesterday, and notes the two hung out together on the field for a while after practice.
- Shalise Manza Young says the Patriots and Saints had nothing but praise for each other after going through a joint practice at Foxborough.
- Mike Rodak highlights Bill Belichick's comments after a "really good practice" against the Saints.
- Tom Layman points out the Patriots D did a better job covering the middle of the field yesterday, something that plagued them at times last year.
- Mike Reiss wraps up the 13th day of training camp and the key storylines of the day.
- Shalise Manza Young reports Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod spoke highly of Chandler Jones.
- Tom Layman notes Chandler Jones gets positive reviews from the opposing Saints.
- Karen Guregian writes about having the two best tight ends in the league on the field Tuesday, and neither could be adequately stopped or covered by the opposing defense.
- Christopher Price enters the Gronkowski vs. Graham debate, as the elite tight ends share the stage at Gillette.
- Field Yates notes Saints safety Roman Harper details the differences between TEs Gronkowski, Hernandez and Graham.
- Jeff Howe reports undrafted Patriots guard Derek Dennis played a key role in HBO's 'Hard Knocks' premier last night.
- Julian Benbow notes the Saints find common ground with how the Patriots handled themselves after spygate.
- Mike Reiss answers his weekly Patriots Mailbag: The early results are in from training camp.
- ESPN Boston posts a pic of the fans packed around the practice fields at Gillette Stadium.
- ESPN Boston provides some photos from Tuesday's Patriots-Saints joint session in Foxborough.
- Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Deion Branch limited in practice, says "Everything is good"; Bill Belichick attended Garrett Reid's funeral yesterday & finished practice with a "heavy heart"; Patrick Chung's health and the additions of Steve Gregory, Bobby Carpenter and Dont'a Hightower have improved the Pats' pass defense over the middle.
- Ben Reiter (SI) Postcard from camp: Patriots.
- James Walker (ESPN) Graham, Gronkowski are rare breeds.
- Photo Gallery (SI) From 1988 - Tom Brady at 35.
- Dan Hanzus (NFL.com) 'Hard Knocks' returns with a bang.
- Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Hard Knocks a revealing look at Dolphins camp.
- Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Pereira says NFL is embellishing the credentials of replacement officials.
- Matt Bowen (Nat'l Football Post) Are training camp fights overhyped?
- Peter King (SI) MMQB Tuesday Edition: Don't assume T.O. is truly back; sitting down with Haslam; mail.