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Patriots 2019 training camp recap: New England’s defense makes life hard for the offense at the goal line

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New England returned for its fourth training camp today.

NFL: JUL 27 Patriots Training Camp Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium earlier today for their fourth session of the summer — one that looked a lot like yesterday’s from afar: conditions were again perfect for football, thousands of fans packed the stands, and the team was wearing full pads. The session itself, however, was more intense than yesterday’s comparatively slow one.

Let’s recap what happened:

Attendance

Returned: DE Michael Bennett

Not spotted: WR Dontrelle Inman (?), DE Byron Cowart (knee), OT Yodny Cajuste (NFI), OT Cole Croston (PUP)

Present but did not participate: WR Julian Edelman (NFI), WR Demaryius Thomas (PUP), CB Ken Webster (PUP), SS Nate Ebner (PUP).

Present but limited: OC David Andrews, OT Isaiah Wynn

  • Patrick Chung again wore a red non-contact jersey. The team captain is recovering from a broken hand suffered in the Super Bowl and offseason shoulder surgery.
  • Danny Etling did once again not don the red non-contact jersey that quarterbacks are usually wearing.

Injuries

  • Michael Bennett got his ankles re-taped at one point, but the issue did not appear to be injury-related.

Offense

Quarterback performance: Tom Brady 10 of 13 (11-on-11), 4 of 4 (7-on-7); Brian Hoyer 7 of 11 and an interception (11-on-11), 2 of 2 (7-on-7); Jarrett Stidham 1 of 2 (11-on-11), 1 of 2 (7-on-7).

Offensive line: LT Dan Skipper, LG Joe Thuney, C Ted Karras, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon

  • With Isaiah Wynn still a limited participant during practice coming off a season-long stint on injured reserve, the Patriots rotated their left tackles on a regular basis. Dan Skipper saw most of the action at left tackle, with the number two option over the last three days and all of spring — starting left guard Joe Thuney — remaining on the inside more often than over the last three days. Cedrick Lang also saw reps at left tackle, with both players moving between the left and the right side.
  • At one point during a kickoff practice drill, Tom Brady had a side session with New England’s new-look tight end group: Matt LaCosse, Benjamin Watson, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson and Lance Kendricks all joined him. In the meantime, N’Keal Harry and running backs James White and Sony Michel spent time with Brian Hoyer.
  • The offense went through a hurry-up walkthrough at one point, and the first-unit offense saw James White at running back, with Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris and Braxton Berrios at wide receiver. The second unit, working alongside Brian Hoyer, featured Rex Burkhead, N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, and Gunner Olszewski.
  • Harris and Berrios continued their solid training camp, with both regularly stepping up. Free agency acquisition Harris is still the Patriots’ best pass catching option four days into camp, with Berrios catching a touchdown pass from Brady at one point.
  • Going back to the aforementioned Olszewski: he caught the final three passes of the session — including a touchdown — when the second-team defense ran a hurry-up drill. While he remains on the outside looking in at this point in time, the undrafted rookie defensive back-turned-wide receiver certainly is making his fair share of plays.

Defense

  • The Patriots’ defense was outstanding during goal-line work. Lawrence Guy and Mike Pennel in particular stood out, as they stuffed runs against the number one offense on back-to-back plays. Second-year man Christian Sam also had an impressive play, when he violently took down rookie running back Damien Harris.
  • Michael Bennett’s first day back at work can be classified as a success: the offseason trade acquisition was among the standouts of the session. Him going against the backup offensive line is just an unfair matchup in the veteran’s favor. On top of it all, the Patriots also regularly moved Bennett from the edge to one of the interior spots.
  • Terrence Brooks saw action with the starting defense during an early 11-on-11 drill. With Patrick Chung wearing the red non-contact jersey, the free agency acquisition filled his usual strong safety/linebacker hybrid role.
  • Stephon Gilmore continues his terrific training camp. He was targeted once during team work today, on a throw from Brady intended for Phillip Dorsett. The All-Pro cornerback was all over the receiver and broke up the pass at seemingly little effort.
  • After solid sessions on Saturday, defensive edge Derek Rivers and safety Obi Melifonwu again had a good practice today. While Rivers lined up with the starting defensive line on numerous occasions, Melifonwu had one of the plays of the day when he picked off a Brian Hoyer pass in the back of the end zone intended for Benjamin Watson.

Special teams

  • Rookie punter Jake Bailey again saw time practicing kickoffs. His tremendous leg was once more on display.
  • Phillip Dorsett, Braxton Berrios, Damoun Patterson and Ryan Davis served as the returnmen on both punt and kickoff drills.