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Patriots 2018 training camp: Quick-hit thoughts on the third day of practice

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New England held its third session yesterday.

NFL: New England Patriots-Minicamp Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields yesterday for their third practice of this year’s training camp. Conditions were a bit more friendly when compared to Friday, and that was not the only change: for the first time all season, the team practiced in full pads – focusing mostly on the running game and its nuances.

With that in mind, let’s quickly dive into the notebook:

Despite pads, the energy level was rather low

The Patriots had more spirited sessions than the one on Saturday: despite wearing pads and practicing in front of thousands of spectators, the team at times appeared to be rather low on energy – something that started on the top with Tom Brady not providing his usual spark to the rest of the group. It was no bad practice by him or the rest of the team by any means, it just was not always as energetic as it has been in the past.

Trent Brown continues to stand out, not just because of his size

When the Patriots traded for Trent Brown on the second day of this year’s draft, he was projected to compete for one of the starting spots at offensive tackle. Three days into camp, he is the frontrunner for the top job at left tackle. On Saturday, with full pads on, the 6’8, 380 lbs behemoth again looked very good. His size and power stood out once more, but his quick movement also caught the eye. At this point, it would be a surprise if anybody else protected Tom Brady’s blindside on opening day.

Deatrich Wise Jr. is in line for the second-year jump

Due to the turnover the Patriots’ defensive edge went through in 2017, fourth-round rookie Deatrich Wise Jr. saw plenty of snaps during his rookie season. It appears that he is on his way to building on it as Wise Jr. was one of the standouts on day three: the second-year man had the biggest hit of the day when he knocked down running back Jeremy Hill on a red zone drill, and in general was active throughout the session. Wise Jr. certainly appears to be in line for the famous jump players take from years one to two.

Sony Michel needs to work on his ball security

While his ball security questions coming out of college were a bit overblown, Sony Michel needs to continue working on it. On Saturday, with him getting plenty of reps yet again, the first-round rookie had his second fumble of camp when safety Damarius Travis was able to punch out the football during a red zone drill. Michel had to run a penalty lap for his lapse in protecting the ball, but quickly returned to the lineup afterwards. Still, he needs to keep the football safe if he wants to carve out a role on offense this year.

Punt returner might be the way to go for young wide receivers

The Patriots spent a noticeable portion of Saturday’s session working on returns, with four players running back punts: veterans Julian Edelman and Patrick Chung, and young guys Braxton Berrios and Riley McCarron. With Edelman suspended for the season’s first four games and Chung not your typical returner, New England might turn to one of the youngsters to return punts early on during the regular season. With the wide receiver position a crowded one at the top, both Berrios and McCarron might have to make their way onto the team via special teams.