Yesterday, the New England Patriots and the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars held their first joint practice session of the week. Today, the two teams returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium – in front of a crowd of more than 20,000 despite the weather being less than ideal (i.e. perfect for Bill Belichick).
Here are the highlights of today's session (via our live news ticker):
Matthew Slater, Antonio Garcia, Eric Rowe, Shea McClellin and Trevor Bates have not been spotted during today's session. While Slater was absent yesterday as well, Garcia, Rowe, McClellin and Bates are new additions to the list.
Nate Solder, who was spotted walking off the field “rather gingerly”, Mike Gillislee, James O'Shaughnessy, Cody Hollister, Vincent Valentine and David Jones were limited and spending the session on one of the lower practice fields.
Dont'a Hightower and Alan Branch remain on the physically unable to perform list; Andrew Jelks stays on the non-football injury list.
Calais Campbell, Earl Watford, Allen Hurns, Mychael Rivera, Justin Horton and former Patriot Tyler Gaffney did not practice for the Jaguars.
Rookie defensive tackle Josh Augusta was jogging of the field alongside a trainer at one point late in the session.
Jaguars offensive tackle Jeremy Parnell was slow to get up after an incomplete pass.
The quarterbacks, per the Providence Journal's Mark Daniels, performed as follows:
11-on-11s: Tom Brady 14/21; Jimmy Garoppolo 3/3; Jacoby Brissett 4/7, INT
7-on-7s: Tom Brady 6/7; Jimmy Garoppolo 6/7
As has been the case yesterday, offseason acquisition Brandin Cooks has been borderline unstoppable. He has added another spectacular catch to his training camp résumé and continued to display his athleticism and ever-evolving chemistry with Tom Brady.
Cooks was not the only one putting on a clinic today as tight end Rob Gronkowski was spectacular as well and dominated in 11-on-11s and 7-on-7s. He finished the day with seven catches, six of which for touchdowns. In short: he was his usual self.
Tom Brady had a very good day – despite a slow start that included missing wide open targets in Dwayne Allen and Chris Hogan. However, he came back quickly and made great throw after great throw; mostly to Cooks and Gronkowski.
Despite seeing fewer reps than Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo had a good practice running the second-team offense. At one point he had a nice connection with second-year wide receiver Devin Lucien – a player that continues to make tough, contested catches.
With Mike Gillislee recovering from an injury, Dion Lewis and Brandon Bolden have seen an increase in practice reps. Lewis in particular looks very good almost two years removed from an ACL tear.
Backup tackle Cameron Fleming had some struggles during group work and was replaced by LaAdrian Waddle at one point.
After a failed goal-line score late in practice – the third on four total attempts –, the entire third-string offense had to do pushups. Bill Belichick joined them.
Per the Florida-Times Union's Ryan O'Halloran, the Jaguars' starting quarterback performed as follows:
11-on-11s & 7-on-7s: Blake Bortles 5/17
New England's defense made life tough for Jacksonville's offense. The team's first series in 11-on-11s illustrates this: After a Leonard Fournette run, the Patriots sacked quarterback Blake Bortles twice (Harvey Langi, Derek Rivers) before breaking up two pass attempts (Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore).
Butler and Gilmore have both had another very good practice and finished the session with three and two pass breakups, respectively. Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Jonathan Freeny, Jonathan Jones, Justin Coleman, Kenny Moore II and Dwayne Thomas also registered broken up passes.
Rookies Deatrich Wise Jr. and the above-mentioned Langi continue to look good during one-on-one matchups. Wise Jr. won two consecutive battles against second round offensive tackle Cam Robinson. Langi displayed a variety of moves to get past his opponents and at one point put Jaguars guard Jeremiah Poutasi on his backside.
Both continued to see considerable time with the first-string defense – as did fellow rookie Derek Rivers. He was a rotational member of the Patriots' starting defense and was used both on and off the line of scrimmage, as a pass rusher and in coverage. He also, as noted above, made an immediate impact during team drills.
At one point, Belichick pulled the entire second-string defense from 11-on-11s to send them on a penalty lap. Among the unit was linebacker Kyle Van Noy. After a solid first few practices, Van Noy has seen more time with the second-stringers as of late.
After keeping them out of the endzone during yesterday's goal line portion, the Patriots defense surrendered two scoring runs today (T.J. Yeldon, Leonard Fournette).
Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis and Cyrus Jones saw reps as punt returners.
One of the points of emphasis during special teams work were quick substitutions on punts.
The Patriots and Jaguars will return to practice tomorrow to hold a walkthrough in preparation of Thursday's preseason opener. However, the session will not be open to the public.