The New England Patriots and Detroit Lions returned to the practice fields today to hold their second of three joint-practice sessions — and it was an intense session at times. Not only did the two teams exchange proverbial blows during two-minute drills, they also came close to exchanging literal ones as well. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, however, and instead go through the recap one-by-one.
Returned: SS Patrick Chung
Absent: CB Ken Webster (PUP), SS Nate Ebner (PUP), OT Yodny Cajuste (NFI), WR Cameron Meredith, TE Lance Kendricks
Present but did not participate: WR Julian Edelman (NFI), WR Demaryius Thomas (PUP), RB Rex Burkhead
Present but limited: LB Kyle Van Noy, OT Isaiah Wynn
- After not being spotted yesterday, Patrick Chung returned to the practice fields but was again wearing the red non-contact jersey he essentially donned for all of training camp so far.
- With the exception of Chung, the absentees were the same as yesterday. All five of them did not fly to Detroit and instead remained in New England for more rehabilitation work.
- Even though he was wearing full pads and does not appear to be dealing with any injury, Kyle Van Noy did not see much action during today’s practice.
- Danny Etling again did not wear the red non-contact jersey that quarterbacks are usually in.
- First-round rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry limped off the field with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. He tried to walk it off with head athletic trainer Jim Whalen keeping a close eye on him. He eventually returned, but was not on the field for the final team portion of the session.
Quarterback performance: Tom Brady 6/11 (11-on-11s), 8/13 INT (7-on-7s); Brian Hoyer 2/3 (11-on-11s), 7/8 (7-on-7s); Jarrett Stidham 0/1 (11-on-11s), 12/12 (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
- Tom Brady had his ups and downs, but generally appeared to build chemistry with his wide receivers. On the one hand, he did fire an interception during a 7-on-7 period in the red zone. On the other, he looked to be in sync with Braxton Berrios — who arguably had his best day of camp — and Phillip Dorsett. During a two-minute drill late during the session, Dorsett also had one of the best plays of a day when he caught a perfectly thrown 35-yard touchdown pass from Brady.
- As was the case on Monday, Isaiah Wynn and Dan Skipper rotated in and out of the starting offensive line during an early walkthrough portion of practice. When the drills got more competitive, however, Wynn was inactive again with Skipper taking his place at left tackle. New England continues playing it slow when it comes to the second-year man, who missed all of his rookie season because of a torn Achilles tendon.
- During said walkthrough portion, the Patriots fielded a two tight end set at one point consisting of the front runners at the position: Benjamin Watson and Matt LaCosse lined up alongside running back Sony Michel and wide receivers Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers, the latter of the two continuing to get chances with the starting offense around Tom Brady.
- While N’Keal Harry remains a work in progress when it comes to working alongside Brady, he again showed off his high upside as a wide receiver and potential red zone threat by making two of the best catches of the day. The first was a high-pointing reception on a fade pass from Jarrett Stidham that he wrestled away from the defensive back in coverage; the second was a deflected pass that he still was able to haul in somehow.
- Harry’s day was generally quite active. Not only did he leave the session for a short period of time because of what appeared to be a hamstring issue, he also got involved in a shoving-and-jawing match with Lions cornerback Amani Oruwariye after his return. The rookie then left the field again to do some stretching and did not re-join his teammates for the final hurry-up portion of practice.
- Speaking of players going at each other. New England offensive lineman James Ferentz got into a scuffle with Lions defensive tackle P.J. Johnson following a run by Sony Michel. The situation turned into a small skirmish but was quickly dissolved again. While Ferentz and the other Patriots involved remained at practice, Johnson was kicked out as the instigator. Later, Ryan Izzo shoved linebacker Devon Kennard following a drill.
- The Patriots’ starting defense was not at its best during a hurry-up 11-on-11 period. Matthew Stafford completed all four of his pass attempts — against Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty and Patrick Chung — during the series that ended with a touchdown pass to first-round rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson. The simulated drive started at the Patriots’ 43-yard line with 40 seconds left on the clock and the Lions down four points.
- During a red zone drill, defensive backs J.C. Jackson, Duke Dawson and Terrence Brooks all gave up touchdown passes.
- New England’s run defense looked stout early on during practice, with Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler all seeing considerable snaps as the defensive linemen. It will be interesting to see how free agency acquisition Mike Pennel eventually fits into the equation.
- Given that yesterday’s practice was exclusive for season ticket holders, it was no surprise to see more fans in the stands today — especially those cheering on Chase Winovich. The rookie, of course, spent his college days at the University of Michigan and had some fans in attendance. He lived up to the pressure of performing in front of this quasi home crowd: Winovich stood out during 1-on-1s and also had a crushing block in the kicking game.
- The Lions’ special teams units got the better of the Patriots’ today. Not only did the home team have a 40-yard kickoff return, it also blocked a punt at one point.
- The Patriots used four rookies as their punt returners: N’Keal Harry, Braxton Berrios, Gunner Olszewski and Jakobi Meyers. Meyers, of course, was added to the returner rotation yesterday for the first time. Olszewski and Brandon Bolden, meanwhile, worked as the kickoff returners.