Patriots practice report
Greg A. Bedard’s rundown from Wednesday’s evening practice in front of season ticket-holders and Foxborough residents:
Reserve/did not report: RG Brian Waters.
Physically unable to perform: LG Logan Mankins (knee), RT Sebastian Vollmer (back), C Nick McDonald (unknown), OT Markus Zusevics (unknown), TE Daniel Fells (shoulder), TE Jake Ballard (knee), DT Myron Pryor (shoulder), WR Jeremy Ebert (hamstring).
Red jerseys: WR Matthew Slater (shoulder), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder).
Not participating: S Nate Ebner (unknown), CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), LB Tracy White (unknown), C/G Jamey Richard (concussion), DE Rob Ninkovich (unknown), WR Deion Branch (unknown), FB Tony Fiammetta (unknown), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (unknown), CB Will Allen (unknown), C Dan Connolly (unknown), WR Brandon Lloyd (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown).
LB Brandon Spikes went to the locker room after LT Nate Solder gave him a cheap shot on the ground. Spikes returned to the field.
RT Matt Kopa was slow to get up after a play, went to the locker room, and did not return.
Full pads for the fourth straight practice.
■ Nice touch from Ryan Mallett to Britt Davis, who was covered tightly by Ross Ventrone. Tavon Wilson couldn’t provide safety help in time.
■ Wilson, in as a linebacker in a dime package in a two-minute drill to end practice, had a terrific breakup of a Tom Brady pass intended for TE Rob Gronkowski.
■ Later in the same drill, TE Aaron Hernandez caught a pass from Brian Hoyer that looked impossible – with Ihedigbo in Hernandez’s face and Josh Barrett over the top.
They haven’t been good to this point, but you have to give the first-team offensive linemen props for their performance on Wednesday. The unit of LT Solder, LG Donald Thomas, C Ryan Wendell, RG Robert Gallery, and RT Marcus Cannon was much improved over anything we’ve seen. They were very effective as the run game was featured. Koppen, whose struggles continued, was working with the second team.
Mallett had his best public practice as a Patriot on Sunday and was solid on Tuesday. He wasn’t terrible on Wednesday, but he did throw two interceptions and couldn’t find anyone open on two plays and held the ball.
■ Dropped passes: Donté Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, Julian Edelman, Spencer Larsen, Wes Welker.
■ Nice catch: Hernandez (3), Davis.
■ Fumbled: None.
■ Interceptions: Kyle Arringon and Bobby Carpenter (both of Mallett).
One man’s opinion on how the offensive and defensive lines matched up in one-on-one drills (our favorite part of camp). Records indicate wins-losses-draws.
Standouts — Offense: Cannon (2-0-0), Gallery (1-0-1), Wendell (1-0-1). Defense: Gerard Warren (2-0-0), Trevor Scott (1-0-1), Chandler Jones (1-0-1).
Struggled — Offense: Koppen (0-2-0), Kopa (0-1-1). Defense: Jermaine Cunningham (0-2-0).
Decided victories: Jones (vs. Darrion Weems), Scott (vs. Kopa), Gerard Warren (vs. Jeremiah Warren), Kyle Love (vs. Koppen).
■ A nice job by the offensive line to hold its own with a dead heat (7-7-4), the first time in camp the offense has been even.
■ Koppen’s losing streak now sits at seven reps, and he wasn’t really close in this practice.
■ Wendell has really started to come on. He’s playing with an excellent base and was tough for Love and Marcus Harrison to move.
■ Cannon’s quick feet have stood out as he’s picked up his play. Cunningham and Jake Bequette couldn’t find room to get around him.
■ Gerard Warren is really tough to block, which is what he showed in last year’s camp as well. Power and surprising quickness.
ODDS AND ENDS
■ Huge crowd, probably around 17,000, on hand at the stadium. Another great turnout.
■ As is usual during training camp, tempers are starting to get short. Koppen got into it twice with defensive players, and then Solder took a cheap shot at Spikes, who was on the ground. Patrick Chung took offense and nailed Solder, and a then a pretty good scrum broke out.
■ Dont’a Hightower looks like a natural at strong-side linebacker. He consistently holds his own against tight ends and tackles.
■ With Lloyd out, the passing offense seemed choppy. The secondary had probably its best practice. It didn’t allow many easy throws.
■ Brady and Hoyer each got a chance to run the two-minute drill. Brady was just 1 of 3, including a Welker drop and likely a pass interference call against Kyle Arrington, who was muscling Welker all the way down the field. Brady’s group picked up just one first down.
■ Hoyer was 4 of 5 and led his group to three first downs and a field goal attempt.
■ Cunningham, who has been surging, was in the starting lineup on the left side for Scott. Ninkovich continued to be on the sidelines.
■ With Weems immediately showing he’s an upgrade over anything the Patriots have in reserve, he was on the second team at LT, which kicked Kyle Hix inside to LG.
■ Sergio Brown’s odds of making the team seem to be diminishing. It looks like Barrett is taking many of Brown’s spots on special teams. Brown’s play on those units was a bright spot last season.
■ On a running drill, Cannon blocked down instead of out and really heard it from line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
■ CB Ras-I Dowling is starting to make strides on a consistent basis. Physically he looks better than he did in offseason practices, and he’s doing a solid job in coverage.
■ Alex Silvestro has moved full time from end to tight end and is now wearing No. 49.
■ Gronkowski is a little bit up and down with his play and doesn’t look quite right physically, but he showed some of his blocking flare when he manhandled Scott on a running play.
■ Weems made such an impression that it took him all of one practice to become the backup left tackle, a move that kicked Hix to left guard.
■ Bolden continues to get more running attempts than Shane Vereen.
■ Thursday: 1:30-4 p.m.
■ Friday: 1:30-4 p.m.