Christopher Price says individual battles highlight the first padded practice of summer.
3. The cornerbacks and wide receivers teamed up on an interesting drills that focused on blocking and hands work. Depending on whether it was a run or pass play, the two had to lock up. Throughout the drill, it appeared that wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins occasionally struggled to gain separation as well as engage as a blocker (at one point, he had his helmet knocked off his head), while rookie Aaron Dobson more than held his own against corners Ras-I Dowling and Stephon Morris. Receiver Kamar Aiken did a nice job getting past cornerback Alfonzo Dennard on another play, while receiver Danny Amendola and cornerback Aqib Talib battled to a draw on a few plays when they went head-to-head. (Not sure if this was by design or because they were parallel in line, but it seemed like Amendola and Talib went against each other an awful lot throughout the day. For the most part, they seemed to battle to a draw.)
Shortly after that, the receivers and corners went head-to-head again in a passing drill. In that sequence, receiver Michael Jenkins went up and made a nice catch over corner Justin Green, while Amendola beat Kyle Arrington long, but Arrington later recovered nicely and came away with the pass breakup. In addition, Talib made a nice play on Matthew Slater, sticking with the speedy receiver all the way down the field and batting the ball away. And Dobson and Dennard went head-to-head on multiple occasions: First, Dobson, jumped up and over Dennard and had both hands on the pass, but Dennard batted the ball away at the last second. The next time around, Dobson beat him to the inside neatly and came away with the reception.
4. As was the case in previous years, some of the most interesting stuff takes place in the far corner of the practice field when the offensive linemen and defensive linemen square off. And as the Amendola-Talib matchup was riveting, the battles between Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins were just epic — like a Michael Bay movie where two larger than life individuals clashed. With the understanding that these drills are monitored by the coaching staff (that is to say, one player will occasionally be given specific instructions to work on one part of their game instead of using a full arsenal of moves), the stuff was great to watch. By my count, Wilfork and Mankins went against each other three times, and came away in a draw on each occasion. Other highlights from the defensive line-offensive line battles was the sight of Tommy Kelly tossing Chris McDonald to the ground, as well as Chandler Jones putting a nice move on Nate Solder and slipping past him. Ryan Wendell easily neutralized Marcus Forston, and Sebastian Vollmer took care of Dont’a Hightower.
In the first viewing of one-on-one pass rush drills, second-year defensive end Chandler Jones impressed in duels with left tackle Nate Solder, while it appears that Dan Connolly (shoulder) is not quite 100 percent, as he was withheld from the drill, with Marcus Cannon taking top right guard reps.
Kevin McNamara talks about the full-pads contact drills that took place Sunday.
"I'm pretty tired right now but it's always nice to start playing real football to see where you're at and where you need to go," said All-Pro guard Logan Mankins. "It's pretty hard to stop power rushes in just t-shirts and helmets. The pads make it a little more equal. You actually have something to hit now and grab onto at times. It makes it a lot better for us."...
One player who didn't shine with the addition of contact into the equation was running back Stevan Ridley. He fumbled twice and forced to leave the drills and take a lonely run around the practice field.
Jeff Howe offers some observations from Day 3.
With full pads, there was a concerted focus on the running game in team drills. Stevan Ridley had a poor day with two fumbles. The first came when Vince Wilfork blew up the play and Chandler Jones knocked the ball free. Then, in goal-line work, Wilfork and Tommy Kelly blew it up and Wilfork knocked the ball loose. Ridley had to run a lap after each fumble.
Steve Gregory got his most action with the first-team defense, alongside Devin McCourty at safety.
Cornerback Kyle Arrington had a strong day, and he worked as the starting right corner again, similar to Friday’s practice. Arrington made a nice pass breakup on Danny Amendola in one-on-ones, and he also intercepted a long Brady pass later in the session.
There were some intense one-on-ones between the cornerbacks and receivers, who fought each other at the line of scrimmage to simulate press coverage. Ras-I Dowling ate Aaron Dobson’s lunch in the most impressive victory among the reps.
The quarterbacks and receivers opened practice with the scramble drill, when the QB would roll out of pressure and find the receiver as the break off their route.
Tebow hit a diving Kenbrell Thompkins for a long touchdown pass on the final play of practice. That was a fun way for the day to end, as Thompkins drew a loud cheer right in front of the crowd.
Jones was very active in one-on-ones. There are plenty of reasons to expect a big year from him.
The Patriots ran a bunch of screen passes, with Shane Vereen and Leon Washington getting the bulk of the work.
Tebow participated in the ball-control drill, where defensive players try to strip the ball, but Brady and Ryan Mallett did not. Who knows if he’ll be anything other than a quarterback, but the Patriots have at least planted the bug.
Field Yates notes rookie WRs Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have been sharp in early workouts. Aqib Talib notes they both have real "good releases off the line."