FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots participated in a joint practice with the Buccaneers on Tuesday, in rainy conditions. It was the first of three practices with the Patriots and Buccaneers before the two teams meet on Friday in the second preseason game.
"It will be good for us to see different players, different scheme," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. "We’re going to have to deal with those during the year too so it will be good to get kind of a whole new look this week. I think it’s a good way to prepare our team."
Which players had a strong showing against the new look, and which players were thrown off a bit?
LeGarrette Blount: The former Buccaneers running back had a strong practice with three catches in one-on-one coverage drills, working against linebackers Ka'Lial Glaud and Lavonte David. Blount also continues to get repetitions over second-year running back Brandon Bolden.
Julian Edelman: Dropped one pass that hit him in the hands, but made a pair of impressive catches in 11-on-11 work, one down the sideline against rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks, another down the seam after splitting a linebacker and defensive back.
Zach Sudfeld: There was a moment where Tom Brady yelled at Zach Sudfeld for not getting to the ground in a drill simulating a late-game situation, but Sudfeld has been one of the most impressive Patriots throughout camp, and he carried it over into joint practices by consistently getting open against the Buccaneers linebackers and safeties. Sudfeld went 2-1 in the one-on-one coverage drills with the Patriots running backs and tight ends vs. the Buccaneers linebackers and safeties. He also caught a team-high three passes in 11-on-11 work, including a touchdown against safety Keith Tandy.
Kenbrell Thompkins: Made the play of the day with a leaping touchdown catch in the back right corner of the end zone, and had a spectacular one-handed grab in one-on-one drills. Also made a nice catch near the sideline, turning up field for what would have been a long gain of yards after the catch.
Anyone trying to cover Vincent Jackson: The Patriots cornerbacks posed no threat for the Buccaneers No. 1 receiver, who regularly beat any kind of coverage thrown at him. Jackson has incredible speed for a man his size, at 6'5" and 230 pounds. He had nice catches over the middle against Kyle Arrington, and an impressive leaping sideline catch against Logan Ryan. Jackson also beat Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty (at cornerback) in 7-on-7 work.
Aaron Dobson: Dobson had an impressive catch down the left sideline against Johnthan Banks, but he dropped four passes on the day and struggled to get open in the final 11-on-11 drill, with safety Mark Barron breaking up two passes headed in his direction in the end zone. Ups and downs are expected from rookie receivers, and Dobson is no different; what's more, today was a sloppy day for all involved with the rain.
Brandon Spikes: Missed today's practice, and while that's not usually cause for putting someone in the "stock down" category, the Patriots got a long look at their nickel package without Spikes in the mix, allowing Dont'a Hightower to line up at middle linebacker, Jamie Collins at strong side linebacker and Jerod Mayo on the weak side.
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