Where else would a player rather be on a gorgeous, 85-degree summer day than on the practice fields beside Gillette Stadium in Foxboro? I'd be there in a rapid heartbeat if it were open to the public. The Patriots are taking full advantage of their league-allotted practice time, and here's what the local media have to say after watching Day 2 of mandatory minicamp.
It’s time to hop aboard the Daxton Swanson bandwagon.
The second-year cornerback had his fifth-straight impressive practice in front of the media, and after pulling in two interceptions on Wednesday, the Sam Houston State product is starting to look legit. Swanson has been physical with the Patriots’ wide receivers, and for now, he appears to have the inside track to the fifth cornerback spot on the roster — especially with fellow second-year player Justin Green sitting out with a hamstring injury.
No sign of Darrelle Revis. The veteran cornerback, who has been a regular throughout voluntary organized team activities and the first day of mandatory minicamp, didn't practice today. Kyle Arrington, who is at his best in the slot, moved to Revis' spot on the outside while Logan Ryan also took some reps there. Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn't elaborate on the reason for Revis' absence. Third-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard would also normally be part of that mix, but he is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, according to the Boston Globe. Dennard hasn't practiced this offseason.
Josh Boyce nicked up early. The second-year receiver who has been building momentum this offseason, but after coming on to the field for early warmups, he appeared to tweak something (left leg) that drew the attention of the athletic training staff. Boyce stayed on the field but did not take part in any drills, his gloves tucked into his shorts. His status will be something to monitor in the days and weeks to come.
Ryan Mallett and a knee brace. The No. 2 quarterback provided reporters a clue of what might be keeping him out of practice by wearing a brace over his knee (and under his workout pants) during warmup drills. With Mallett not participating in team drills, it gave more reps to rookie Jimmy Garoppolo. At one point, Garoppolo and first-year center Braxston Cave ran a lap after a fumbled exchange. On Tuesday, we pointed out one excellent long pass from Garoppolo, but there wasn't a standout play to point to today.
Punt block is special-teams focus. As is the case in every practice, the Patriots spend time working on one specific aspect of special teams and today it was punt block. Running back Brandon Bolden, who plays a key role in the kicking game, was one of the first players through the drill. Veteran linebacker James Anderson, formerly of the Panthers and Bears, was among a large group of players taking part.
Second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo had a rough day in terms of accuracy. None of the flashes we saw Tuesday for the rookie quarterback. Fumbled snap. Miscommunication. Rookie stuff.
The superstar of the summer, at least from this view, has been Kenbrell Tompkins. The wide receiver continued a strong run of practices Wednesday by beating Brandon Browner twice on the left sideline, then again in the end zone on a beautiful fade from Tom Brady.
He then caught a back-shoulder pass down the right sideline. If anyone has benefitted from Aaron Dobson and Brandon LaFell being limited this summer, it’s certainly Thompkins.
Thompkins was not the only one making some spectacular catches on Wednesday. Develin made a leaping touchdown grab in 11-on-11 work off a Brady pass. Later on, Wiggins made a beautiful catch from Garoppolo on a seam route in double coverage in 11-on-11 drills.
Rookie guard Jon Halapio continues to get repetitions at left guard in place of Mankins, who continues his rehab work. Halapio played exclusively right guard in college, so his practice at a new position is notable and important; the Patriots like their offensive linemen to be able to fill multiple roles in a pinch.
A short slap fight broke out between wide receiver Reese Wiggins and cornerback Malcolm Butler. Wiggins ran an in route over the middle, and Butler went in to break up the pass, swiping down on Wiggins' shoulder from behind. The contact was a little more aggressive than we're used to seeing in a pad-less practice, which may have caused Wiggins' frustration.