After getting a day off on Tuesday, the New England Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium today for what might just have been the hottest practice of the year so far. Despite temperatures in the mid-80s, the two-hour session saw the world champions wear full pads for the third time in the last four practices.
Let’s recap what happened:
Returned: WR Dontrelle Inman (?), DE Byron Cowart (quad)
Not spotted: OT Yodny Cajuste (NFI)
Present but did not participate: WR Julian Edelman (NFI), WR Demaryius Thomas (PUP), CB Ken Webster (PUP), SS Nate Ebner (PUP)
Present but limited: RB Rex Burkhead, DE Byron Cowart
- Patrick Chung, who shed the red non-contact jersey during Monday night’s in-stadium practice, was back in it again.
- Danny Etling did once again not don the red non-contact jersey that quarterbacks are usually wearing.
- After being a full participant for the first week of training camp, Rex Burkhead left the rest of the team following warmups to working out on the lower conditioning field, attended by a pair of staffers. However, he later returned to join his teammates before leaving again.
- About one hour into the session, tight end Lance Kendricks walked off to the locker room with a trainer. He did not suffer any obvious injury, but still did not return.
- N’Keal Harry was slow to get up after a reception late during practice. He did not leave the field, however, and continued practice.
Quarterback performance: Tom Brady 5/11 (11-on-11s), 0/5 (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 4/9 (11-on-11s), 3/3 (7-on-7s); Jarrett Stidham 3/5 (11-on-11s), 1 of 2 (7-on-7s); Danny Etling N/A
Starting offensive line: LT Dan Skipper, LG Joe Thuney, OC David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, RT Marcus Cannon
- David Andrews continued to line up in his usual spot as the starting center during the walkthrough portions early on during the session. He then also participated in positional drills and during competitive 11-on-11 drills — a first for him since he returned from an undisclosed injury on Saturday.
- Sony Michel, meanwhile, also saw an increased workload today: the second-year running back, who opened camp on the physically unable to perform list and also was absent until Saturday’s practice, participated in competitive 11-on-11 work for the first time this summer. A good sign when it comes to his rehabilitation coming off an offseason knee arthroscopy.
- The Patriots continue to take a cautious approach with starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn, but he too saw his most action to date today. While Dan Skipper continued to receive considerable reps with the first unit, Wynn participated in both positional and low-tempo team drills — as the third-team left tackle — for the first time all camp.
- Tom Brady completed two beautiful 35-yard would-be touchdown passes during a receiver-vs-cornerback drill: first, Brady hit Ryan Davis with Duke Dawson Jr. in coverage; he later connected with Damoun Patterson versus J.C. Jackson. Both times, the balls were placed perfectly to where only the intended targets could get them. That being said, the quarterback was not perfect against a stingy defense — his team-work numbers reflect that.
- During a side-session with Brady, Brian Hoyer and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels, wide receivers N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers as well as running backs Sony Michel and James White and tight end Benjamin Watson were present. The presence of undrafted rookie Meyers is particularly noteworthy.
- Speaking of Meyers, he had one of the best catches of the day. The 6-foot-2 wide receiver climbed the ladder on a pass from Jarrett Stidham and made a leaping reception over cornerback Keion Crossen. Meyers continues to stand out during practice and could have the inside track for the final spot at the wide receiver position.
- Wide receiver N’Keal Harry had an up-and-down day. While he lined up wrong during one drill and later dropped four passes (that came after he nearly let another one slip through his fingers in a receivers-only drill), the first-round rookie also made two spectacular catches: he out-jumped Jason McCourty on a deep pass down the sideline and later made a backwards-leaping reception in the deep middle of the field. He also beat Stephon Gilmore at one point before dropping a pass.
- While Harry had at least two highlight-reel catches, Braxton Berrios did not even have those. He was unable to haul in even one of his three targets during one-on-one work, and also was the target on two incompletions during a hurry-up segment late in practice. His struggles when it comes to gaining separation were evident today.
- Newly signed offensive tackle Martez Ivey did not make the best first impression, as he ran one lap in what NESN’s Zack Cox later described as ‘Josh Augusta speed.’ Those of you who were at training camp two years ago will know what this means.
- All in all, the session was a sloppy one for the Patriots’ offense.
- Cornerback D’Angelo Ross, who saw some time with the starting defense during Monday’s practice, stood out today. The undrafted rookie won all three of his one-on-one battles and registered pass breakups against wide receivers Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski.
- Another rookie cornerback also showed some improvements today: second-round pick Joejuan Williams registered a pass breakup against Phillip Dorsett on a deep pass attempt from Brian Hoyer. Williams stuck with the wide receiver through his route — something that was not the case when he gave up a 40-yard touchdown during last Friday’s session. Good to see the rookie show some progress.
- Michael Bennett continues to make life hard for the offensive linemen lining up on the other side of him. At one point during a one-on-one drill, he was even able to get one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen — starting right guard Shaq Mason — to the ground. Bennett has been terrific in both full-speed sessions he participated in so far.
- Jamie Collins forced a fumble today when he stripped the football out of James White’s hands late during the play (White ran a penalty lap for losing the ball). Duron Harmon, meanwhile, registered an interception off Brian Hoyer on a pass deflected by fellow defensive back Terrence Brooks.
- Jonathan Jones is still firmly in the driver’s seat to earn the slot cornerback role versus second-year man Duke Dawson this year. Today’s practice was further confirmation of that, as he broke up three passes — two of which in 11-on-11 work — and continued establishing himself as the second best corner on the team this summer behind only All-Pro Stephon Gilmore.
- Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris (who ran mostly with the twos today on offense), Braxton Berrios and Gunner Olszewski worked as the returnmen today, running back both kickoffs and punts.