Yeah, it's Tom Brady's 36th birthday. But as it turned out, the New England Patriots actually held their eighth training camp practice early this Saturday morning. Here are five notes on the session from around the web:
1. The New England Patriots broke into two squads on Saturday to scrimmage and work on a variety of situational drills, as the team was split into "blue" and "white" squads. However, it was a short day today for the birthday boy, who drove the offense down the field for a touchdown on his first series before handing over the keys to the backup quarterbacks, writes Andy Hart of Patriots Football Weekly.
2. Mike Reiss' big takeaway from Saturday's session was the emergence of rookie free agent tight end Zach Sudfield. Sudfield has impressed Reiss with his size, hands, athleticism, and ability to threaten the seam. Reiss points out that Sudfield ran with Tom Brady and most of the starters Saturday morning.
3. In a notable development, Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty shed his red non-contact jersey for today's practice. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald detailed an impressive late-practice pick-six that McCourty snagged on a Ryan Mallett throw. McCourty has seen some time at cornerback in recent days, but this seems more like a personnel thing, and perhaps some practice for man coverage than anything else.
4. Some notable absences: Jermaine Cunningham, Ras-I Dowling, and Marcus Cannon were all held out again along with Tavon Wilson, Michael Jenkins, Nate Ebner, and Jake Ballard. All of these players are amidst competition for roster spots and playing time, and getting back to the field as quickly as possible will be key. For a guy like Michael Jenkins, every snap he misses is another that an up-and-comer such as Kenbrell Thompkins will get.
5. Kevin O'Connor of Pats Pulpit detailed the battle at punter between Zoltan Mesko and rookie Ryan Allen in his training camp notes yesterday. This morning, Field Yates of ESPN Boston pointed out another twist: the Patriots had Allen holding snaps on field goals today. This has typically been a job occupied by Mesko and Yates highlights how it would be a bonus if Allen could do this as well if he were to win the job.