- Unfortunately for Head Coach Bill Belichick, who is never shy in revealing his love for preparing his players in foul weather conditions, it was another beautiful day for football in Foxborough,MA on Friday as the Patriots took the field in front of another massive crowd of excited New England football fans.
Another day of overflow crowds, as Gillette Stadium ramps overlooking practice fields have been opened to accommodate. 15,349 here yesterday— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) July 28, 2017
Wouldn't be surprised if there were more people here today than yesterday. Here's overflow crowd on ramps of stadium pic.twitter.com/RheB1f7n4S— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) July 28, 2017
The team’s 30,000+ two-day attendance total is enough to completely fill the Los Angeles Chargers’ StubHub Center to capacity, and still have well over 3,000 fans leftover. The staggering, yet unsurprising turnout speaks not only to the overwhelming success of the franchise, but also how much the team has woven itself into the fabric of the region’s culture. Patriots fans truly embrace every moment of the entire NFL calendar.
2. Per usual, Patriots players spent their second straight day of camp in “shirts and shells” — that is, without pads and heavy contact. During his Friday morning presser, Bill Belichick expressed his displeasure, through sarcasm, with making early evaluations on players before pads are even put on. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the comments came on the heels of multiple questions regarding the head coach’s thoughts on a handful of his players.
“You know, you guys are asking a lot of questions about, ‘What have we seen from this guy, what have we seen from that guy?’ We’ve yet to put on pads. All right?" Belichick said. "So I understand this is a pretty talented group of evaluators in this room, but in all honesty, our evaluations come more in training camp when we actually practice and can fully execute the techniques and the plays that we’re trying to do.”
“So I know everybody is all excited when a guy catches a pass. But when the defense doesn’t jam him, or they’re not allowed to really -- because we don’t want heavy contact out there -- aren’t competing for the contact at the end of the play, then it’s not quite the same when all of that is going on.”
“I’m not taking anything away from the receivers. I’m not taking anything away from anybody. I’m just saying, ‘It is what it is.’ The competitive level out there is not what it’s going to be starting tomorrow. So to evaluate players competitively when they are not on a competitive level, I have a hard time with.”
The highlight of Belichick’s remarks came in this lovely blend of sarcasm and self deprecation:
“But I know a lot of people are real good at that. They can make a lot more out of it than I can. I respect that. But due to my personal limitations and my personal inability to make those evaluations, I don’t make them.”
The Patriots’ first scheduled padded practice will be on Saturday.
3. Displaying consistent coverage and flashing some excellent ball skills, rangy cornerback Eric Rowe was a name that continually caught the attention of reporters by logging an interception and a pass break up in consecutive days.
Rowe has had 2 solid days in coverage. Very competitive. Had another pick today on Garoppolo— Paul Perillo (@pfwpaul) July 28, 2017
Rowe, who also put forth solid performances in OTAs, appears to be on a mission to prove that he’s not to be the forgotten man in the Patriots secondary this season following the arrival of Stephon Gilmore.
4. Given the circumstance of Friday’s session being a non-padded practice, the spotlight was certainly on the wide receiver position. As expected, Brandin Cooks flashed his dynamic skill set — one that backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is definitely impressed with.
Garoppolo on Cooks: He's probably one of the fastest people I've ever seen— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) July 28, 2017
Cooks, as well as offseason contract extension recipient Julian Edelman, who was also in top form, each torched Jonathan Jones for wide open red zone touchdowns. UDFA Austin Carr had another solid session, showing reliable hands and in innate ability to find open space.
Chris Hogan impressed. In seven-on-sevens he outworked Justin Coleman for the football on an impressive play, and followed it up later with a diving catch. Following a couple of hottly contested reps, Hogan and second-year man Cyrus Jones found themselves face to face taking part in some feisty jawing, a headbutt, and a swatting of the ball by Jones from Hogan’s grasp. It was right in front of Bill Belichick, who clearly did not mind seeing some passionate and competitive chirping from his frustrated young corner. Jones spoke to reporters after practice about the small incident.
Cyrus Jones said his minor scrap with Chris Hogan was "football" and "it's an emotional game." Added he moved on quickly.— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) July 28, 2017
Former Arizona State Sun Devil and 2016 practice squad member Devin Lucien remained down on the field following the final play of practice, but was eventually able to walk it off. It appeared to be just a bad cramp induced by the hot, humid weather.
5. Friday’s absences from practice included edge defender Rob Ninkovich and long snapper Joe Cardona for the second consecutive day, as well as wide recievers Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell. Explanations for the absences have yet be made public, although Mitchell has been handled carefully this offseason by the staff, presumably due to his abundant injury history. He was not an active on-field participant in mini camps or OTAs.
6. New Patriots edge rusher Kony Ealy, who was absent from Thursday’s camp-opening practice, was on the field and a full participant in Friday’s session.
I can confirm Kony Ealy is practicing— Michael McDermott (@MichaelMcD8393) July 28, 2017
When asked after practice if his Thursday absence was injury related, Ealy said it was not, and that he was held out of practice.
Kony Ealy, back at practice, said his Thursday absence wasn't due to injury: "You have to ask Coach Bill. Me and him had something going on" pic.twitter.com/QnVYRtWMCu— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) July 28, 2017
Kony Ealy on if he is OK w/ situation (held out of Thursday practice): "Of course. Am I going to go against what Coach Belichick says? No."— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) July 28, 2017
Kony Ealy "At the end of the day, my job is to come here & do everything I need to do for the team & do the right things on & off the field"— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) July 28, 2017
6. According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, here were Friday’s quarterback stats:
- Tom Brady: 10 of 15
- Jimmy Garoppolo: 12 of 16 with two interceptions (four through two practices).
- Jacoby Brissett: 10 of 17
On Saturday the real competition in Patriots training camp begins.