On Monday, the New England Patriots traveled to West Virginia for joint practices with the Houston Texans. The first of the sessions – which are free and open to the public – took place yesterday at the Greenbrier Resort, where the Patriots once also held practices together with the New Orleans Saints.
In front of the biggest crowd of the Texans' 2017 training camp – most of which Patriots fans – the following happened (via our live news ticker):
Cornerback Eric Rowe returned to practice, while Mike Gillislee was spotted wearing a red non-contact jersey.
The absentees were as follows: Nate Solder, Matthew Slater, Antonio Garcia, Matt Lengel, Shea McClellin, Deatrich Wise Jr., Brandon King and Keionta Davis.
Linebacker Dont'a Hightower remains on the PUP lis while rookie offensive tackle Andrew Jelks remains on the NFI list.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was present but did neither compete in one-on-ones nor take part in team drills.
Depth offensive players LaAdrian Waddle and LeShun Daniels both failed to finish the session.
The quarterbacks, per the Boston Herald's Jeff Howe, performed as follows:
Team drills: Tom Brady 18/27; Jimmy Garoppolo 12/21
Garoppolo had a streaky day: After starting the session 2 of 10, he completed 10 of his final 11 passes during two two-minute drills.
Jacoby Brissett also continues to be up and down. His ball placement in particular continues to be a work in progress.
Chris Hogan was one of the standouts during yesterday's session, consistently winning one-on-one battles and making multiple contested catches. The Tom Brady-Rob Gronkowski connection was also on display multiple times.
Brandon Bolden continues to see regular snaps and running back with Mike Gillislee still absent. Rex Burkhead also was used a lot, especially in goal line situations.
Overall, though, New England's offense had some issues moving the ball against a stingy Texans defense. The offensive line in particular struggled against a Houston front seven that would have had multiple sacks with other plays blown dead.
Still, not all was bad along the offensive line: Marcus Cannon had a very good day, often going against star defender J.J. Watt.
Rookie defensive edge Derek Rivers continues his strong streak, registering a would-be sack during team drills by beating the tackle with an inside move.
With Stephon Gilmore sitting out team drills, Eric Rowe lined up as the starting cornerback opposite Malcolm Butler. Jonathan Jones, meanwhile, saw time in the slot.
Justin Coleman, Patrick Chung and undrafted rookies Kenny Moore II and D.J. Killings all registered pass breakups.
Offseason acquisition Kony Ealy had his best practice. With Deatrich Wise Jr. out, he saw plenty of reps along the first-team defensive line and looked particularly good rushing from the interior.
The Patriots and Texans will return to the practice fields later today for the two teams' final open practice in preparation for their preseason duel on Saturday.