FOXBOROUGH — Darrelle Revis may not find the end zone too often in 2014, but he didn’t take too long to find it in training camp.
The offense was backed up against its own goal line for an 11-on-11 session near the end of practice. Tom Brady hung in the pocket a little too long, and Revis made him pay. He got a nice jump on a crossing pattern over the middle, and caught Brady’s pass in stride, taking it to the house for the pick-six.
Revis is unlike any cornerback the Patriots have had at training camp in recent years. He makes ridiculous interceptions look routine, such as one he had on a deep fade to Julian Edelman early in camp, where he leaped while falling backwards to make the grab over his head, landing on his back and keeping the ball through the catch.
As a whole, the defensive backs got the better of the wide receivers on Thursday. The Patriots’ new-look secondary is off to a good start this summer, but the real tests are soon to come. The Patriots will head to Richmond, VA next week for joint practices with the Washington Redskins, and their first preseason game is one week from today on Aug. 7.
Here are some more notes from Thursdays practice, the Patriots’ seventh practice of training camp and their fifth straight in full pads.
— Did not practice: TE Michael Hoomanawanui (unknown), DB Jemea Thomas (unknown), RB Tyler Gaffney (meniscus), C Bryan Stork (unknown), and LB Cameron Gordon (unknown) were not spotted at practice. WR Aaron Dobson (foot, PUP), OL Chris Martin (unknown, NFI), DL Dominique Easley (knee, NFI), WR Jeremy Gallon (unknown, PUP), and LB Deontae Skinner (unknown, NFI) were present but dressed in shorts and t-shirts.
— Drops: WR Kenbrell Thompkins, WR Wilson Van Hooser
— Interceptions: CB Darrelle Revis, CB Malcolm Butler
— Laps: OT Jordan Devey (false start)
— There were no OL vs. DL 1-on-1 pass-rush drills today, but there was one drill with the tight ends and fullbacks coming in motion and blocking defensive ends and outside linebackers 1-on-1. There were 15 matchups and the offense won all but four of these matchups, so the goal of this drill may have been to help the offensive players with their blocking technique.
— If that were the case, TE Justin Jones has some work to do. On one particular rep, he fell forward to the ground while trying to block DE Chandler Jones. Justin Jones had an otherwise solid practice, however, and made his daily leaping over-head touchdown grab by reaching over LB Steve Beauharnais and tapping both feet in-bounds in the back of the end zone. His size continues to jump off the page.
— RB Roy Finch had a great day overall. He dominated in an early 1-on-1 coverage drill, running a nice wheel route for a touchdown and a circle route out of the backfield. He was also the top choice as punt returner for the day, taking almost all of those reps. The coaching staff is giving him every chance to make an impression.
— CB Alfonzo Dennard has not participated much in drills with the rest of the team, but was taking part in some 7-on-7 red zone work, and yielded a touchdown reception to WR Brandon LaFell. Later, Dennard could be seen on the adjacent field while the rest of the team was doing 11-on-11 and special teams work.
— WR Matthew Slater made his return to practice today, but did not participate in team drills. He and safety Kanorris Davis worked individually with special teams coordinator Scott O’Brien on gunner drills, focusing on technique and leverage.
— The Patriots continue to shuffle parts on the offensive line, but the most notable battle is between Marcus Cannon and Dan Connolly over the starting spot at right guard. Cannon and Connolly have shared the load at that spot for the first week of camp. Neither man has shown a true edge on the field.
— Shuffling continues at running back, as well, where Stevan Ridley and James White got early opportunities in running drills. Later, it was Ridley and Shane Vereen getting the top looks. Stephen Houston, Roy Finch, Jonas Gray, and Brandon Bolden took a back seat today, but they continue to share the load in team work.
— If there had been 1-on-1 pass-rush drills today, the defensive line may have claimed the victory. That group brought their A-game today. Rookie DE Zach Moore bull-rushed OL Josh Kline into QB Ryan Mallett’s lap in an 11-on-11 drill for what would have otherwise been a sack. Similarly, DE Michael Buchanan came screaming off the edge against rookie OT Cameron Fleming. Buchanan got a little overzealous, though, and ran into QB Jimmy Garoppolo on the play. The guys in red jerseys got hit a little today.
— The 2014 Patriots defense seems to be defining themselves as an excitable group with a lot of swagger in the early stages of camp. During 11-on-11 goal line work, DE Rob Ninkovich stuffed Stevan Ridley for a loss, bringing the defense to life with a chant of “Hell no, we won’t go!”
— CB Malcolm Butler had a nice day, as well. He had air-tight coverage of WR Brian Tyms on a downfield throw from Garoppolo, and picked off Garoppolo in 11-on-11 work near the end of practice.
— The offense and defense took turns making big plays in the final 11-on-11 work at the end of practice. On the first play, Brady aired it out for WR Julian Edelman on a deep route down the right sideline, and beat CB Kyle Arrington for the big play. Brady went deep again on the next play, this time aiming for WR Kenbrell Thompkins deep to the left. CB Brandon Browner was nearby in coverage, making the grab too difficult for Thompkins, who could not track the ball while searching for it over Browner’s ginormous body.
— Once again, practice ended with the team doing hill sprints from the lower to upper practice fields.
— Meanwhile, the quarterbacks worked on dropping back, with a trainer holding a rope that was tied around the waist of the quarterback, working on stronger and more pronounced.