Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice this afternoon:
– Physically unable to perform list: DL Ron Brace, DL Brandon Deaderick, RB Kevin Faulk, OT Matt Light.
– Non-football injury list: OL Marcus Cannon.
– Out but watching practice: WR Brandon Tate, CB Ras-I Dowling, S James Sanders, S Josh Barrett, OT Kyle Hix, DL Ron Brace.
– Out and not visible at practice: RB Shane Vereen, CB Thad Turner, S Ross Ventrone, RB Eric Kettani, LB Brandon Spikes, OL Ryan Wendell, DL Albert Haynesworth, DL Mike Wright.
– Returned to practice: DL Myron Pryor.
– CB Leigh Bodden was in and out of drills all day. Team appeared to be taking it slow with him. He didn’t take part in sprints to finish yesterday’s practice.
– WR Matthew Slater got bowled over by TE Will Yeatman and was shaken up. Slater returned.
TOP OF THE NEWS
– As we talked about in a previous blog post, absences are starting to creep up on the Patriots. They didn’t have 18 players, or 20 percent of the roster, available today.
– Among the missing were starters Albert Haynesworth, Brandon Spikes and Mike Wright.
– This is the practice where the offense got its groove back, as both Tom Brady and Chad Ochocinco, and the offensive line asserted itself.
– Brady and Ochocinco seem to be growing their rapport. Both were in better sync today. They hooked up on the play of the day when Brady lofted a 40-yard pass down the left sideline and Ochocinco went over CB Malcolm Williams and S Sergio Brown.
– TE Aaron Hernandez had a terrific out-stretched TD reception of a Brady pass in the red zone drill on a corner route to the back pylon. The two ran the same route on the next play, and had the same result although Hernandez didn’t have to lay out for this one. Hernandez also had a one-handed catch of Brian Hoyer in red zone for a touchdown.
Brady and the passing offense is getting its groove back. I had him as being 14-of-17 in all team periods combined. He was at his best in a team period when he was 5-of-5 to four different receivers. That included his previously mentioned highlight hookup with Ochocinco, and then Brady followed it with an even better pass: a 20-yard out near the sideline to Hernandez with tight coverage. Brady put some mustard on that one and it could not have been more accurate. Hoyer was also much sharper (7-of-9), and Ryan Mallett was 2-of-3 with a few sacks.
For the most part, it was a very sluggish practice, which is not unexpected since today marked the fifth-straight day of practice. Most of those were of the long variety in full pads. The Patriots looked in need of an off day, and they’ll get one tomorrow.
– Dropped like it’s hot: Julian Edelman (2), Darnell Jenkins.
– Nice catch: Stevan Ridley, Chad Ochocinco, Aaron Hernandez (2).
– Fumbling men: None.
– Big hits: Sergio Brown (two – one on Hernandez, the hardest hit of the day on Ridley), Tracy White (on RB Richard Medillin), Brett Lockett (on Wes Welker)
LOVE ME SOME ONE-ON-ONES
Standouts–Offense: Sebastian Vollmer (3-0-0), Chris Morris (2-0-0), Jonathan Compas (2-0-1), Dan Connolly (1-0-2), Steve Maneri (1-0-2)Thomas Austin (0-0-2). Defense: Eric Moore (2-0-0), Myron Pryor (3-2-1), Vince Wilfork (0-0-2), Aaron Lavarias (1-0-1).
Stuggled a little bit–Offense: Nate Solder (1-4-0), Dan Koppen (1-3-0), Rich Ohrnberger (1-2-0), Mark LeVoir (0-2-0). Defense: Jermaine Cunningham (0-2-1), Kade Weston (0-2-0), Rob Ninkovich (1-2-0), Darryl Richard (0-2-0)
Decided victories: Moore over Solder, Lavarias over LeVoir, Mankins over Love, Ohrnberger over Richard.
Well, well, well, Dante Scarnecchia’s group raise their level up a notch. The offensive line had their first winning day of one-on-ones of camp, going 15-13-7.
And if you can believe it, they did it with Solder, Mankins and Koppen going a combined 4-9-0. Solder continues to have a tough time in one-on-one matchups, but he does fine in the half-line drills and in team drills, for the most part. Scarnecchia is giving him a lot of advice after each one-on-one.
Mankins actually ended up on the ground twice. Koppen is fine for the first step and then loses leverage. No, I’m not raising alarms about either. They could be working on something specific for all I know. And Mankins had a classic stuff of Love, who has been impressive.
Vollmer (3-0-0) continues to be dominating since he moved back to his more comfortable right tackle position
Moore (2-0-0) continues to be lights out coming off the edge. Can’t say the same for Cunningham, who continues to be average. He hasn’t developed any pass rush moves in the offseason. Ninkovich had his first average outing of camp.
Anderson (3-1-0) has definitely shown some potential. Williams (2-2-0) has been up and down.
Pryor, just off the PUP list, went 3-0-1 before losing his final two matchups.
Morris (2-0-0) is just a professional interior blocker. Weston (0-2-0) came back down after a strong start to camp.
And as an added bonus….
We had our first TE vs. DE one-on-ones of camp. And Belichick was even on hand for the proceedings.
To no one’s surprise, Rob Gronkowski led the way going 2-0-1, followed by Lee Smith 0-0-2 and Carson Butler 0-0-1. Will Yeatman (0-2-0) and Aaron Hernandez (0-3-0) really struggled. Neither came close to winning. Hernandez was just overpowered.
For the DL, Anderson had the toughest time going 1-2-0. Cunningham and Carter were each 1-0-1-.
ODDS AND ENDS
– While they did well in one-on-ones, the backup offensive linemen are still having a tough time in team periods.
– Seems like the battle is on between Kyle Arrington and Darius Butler for the nickel corner spot.
– DE Mark Anderson stood up a few times before putting a hand on the ground.
– Seventh-round pick Malcolm Williams continues to get looks on the top special teams units. Today he was a gunner on punt. S Brandon McGowan and DB Brett Lockett also getting looks.
– G Dan Connolly missed LB Dane Fletcher on a run.
– TE Lee Smith was offsides for the second-straight day.
– Good penetration or tackles for a loss vs. run: Kyle Love (twice), Darryl Richard, Eric Moore, Dane Fletcher
– QB pressures or would-be sacks: Alex Silvestro, Steve Williams (who has been a handful on passing downs), Landon Cohen
– OG Dan Connolly was victimized by Love on one run, but turned him around on another.
– Belichick made the defense run a play three times because Fletcher wasn’t filling his gap correctly.
– Thomas Austin had a nice block on a BenJarvus Green-Ellis run.
– The first-team offensive line did a great job in team periods. Brady had a ton of time to throw and clear passing lanes.
– Taylor Price bobbled a punt. He hasn’t shown sure hands there.
– Green-Ellis was stuffed on his first goal line carry as the left side of the line got no movement.
– Anderson, who is known only as a pass rusher, showed some strength by standing up Mark LeVoir.
– Ridley got in on his goal line carry when LB Jeff Tarpinian couldn’t make the play.
– In the special team tackling drill: Ridley stiff-armed McGowan, Edelman and Taylor Price each made Brandon Meriweather look bad, Yeatman ran over Slater, Gronkowski stiff-armed Lockett, Slater dropped Lee Smith.
– Solder caught a 40-yard punt with the entire team watching to earn the Patriots an off day tomorrow.
P Zoltan Mesko is probably wondering where the camp leg is to help split up the punting duty is with a 90-man roster. He appears to be getting a little fatigued, as his past two punting sessions have been up and down.
He had a total of 14 punts today. His average hangtime was only 3.79 in the first set. The second was much better at 4.20. After about a 30-minute break, he was brought back out and had his second shank, this one 2.65 seconds. It was so bad Belichick made him run a lap.
In another sessions with only one kick, Mesko booted one 4.71.
K Stephen Gostkowski made five of his six field goals, with the miss hitting the left post. The long was probably around 45 yards.
– Tommorow’s practice: No practice.
– Monday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.
– Tuesday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.