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Patriots practice report

By Greg A. Bedard
Globe Staff / August 13, 2012
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Practice report

FOXBOROUGH — A rundown of the Patriots light practice on the lower practice fields Sunday.

ATTENDANCE

Reserve/did not report: RG Brian Waters.

Exempt/left team: FB Tony Fiammetta.

Physically unable to perform: RT Sebastian Vollmer (back), OT Markus Zusevics (unknown), TE Daniel Fells (shoulder), TE Jake Ballard (knee), DT Myron Pryor (shoulder).

Out: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), LB Tracy White (unknown), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown), FB Spencer Larsen (unknown), OT Matt Kopa (leg), DT Ron Brace (unknown), OT Kyle Hix (right shoulder).

New injuries: TE Rob Gron­kowski (unknown), WR Britt Davis (shoulder), FB Eric Kettani (unknown), CB Malcolm Williams (unknown), S James Ihedigbo (unknown), LB Dane Fletcher (left knee), DT Gerard Warren (unknown).

Returned to practice: LG Logan Mankins (right knee, no team drills), LB Brandon Spikes (left knee), DT Ron Brace (unknown), WR Deion Branch (right hip).

INJURIES

None.

DRESS CODE

Shells and shorts.

TOP PLAYS

 WR Jabar Gaffney made a terrific leaping grab of a Ryan Mallett pass over DB Derrick Martin.

 On the goal line, Tom Brady rolled out right and somehow fit a pass in the right corner to Gaffney over Devin McCourty. A really nice touchdown.

 Dont’a Hightower’s second interception was a beauty, in which he read Brian Hoyer’s eyes, then went high to snare a pass that was intended for Gaffney in the seam.

THUMBS UP

The sight of No. 70 on the field was surely met with warm feelings by the Patriots’ faithful. Logan Mankins didn’t do much, but this was the start of the process to get the All-Pro left guard back in the lineup just six months removed from ACL surgery. Considering the state of the offensive line, it can’t come soon enough.

THUMBS DOWN

The passing offense continued to look sluggish — even in a low-key practice with minimal rush. There were six drops and four interceptions in practice, and both were practice highs. In 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 periods, Brady was 18 of 28 with an interception, and Hoyer was 5 of 10 with two interceptions. Normally, the top two quarterbacks complete around 80 percent of their passes. Brady looked like he wanted to hurt someone.

SUPERLATIVES

Dropped passes: Aaron Hernandez, Brandon Lloyd, Stevan Ridley, Wes Welker, Deion Branch, Donte Stallworth.

Nice catch: Hernandez, Welker, Gaffney.

Interceptions: Hightower 2 (of Brady, Hoyer), McCourty (of Mallett), Marquice Cole (of Hoyer).

ODDS AND ENDS

 Good to see McCourty make a play on the ball in one-on-ones when he had tight coverage of Matthew Slater and picked off Mallett. Slater got his revenge later when his slugo (slant-and-go) route left McCourty in the dust during one on ones. McCourty did have a pass breakup in 11 on 11s.

 Hernandez dazzled just about broke the ankles of CB Ras-I Dowling during one-on-ones with about five different moves. Near the end of practice, Dowling was either winded or was battling an injury because he wasn’t very competitive.

 On the first play of 7 on 7s, Hernandez was wide open down the seam. Not sure why Patrick Chung, the safety on that side, wasn’t in better position.

 Hightower’s first interception came when Ridley let an easy ball go through his hands.

 There were a few big offensive line breakdowns that left rushers right in the face of the quarterback. Vince Wilfork and Ron Brace each would have had sacks. In goal-line, it appeared that Ryan Wendell failed to pull and that let the end walk right in on RB Danny Woodhead.

 Despite showing more against the Saints, Shane Vereen still trailed the other backs in reps.

 Great read of Hoyer by Cole on his interception. Cole stepped in front of Jeremy Ebert, who likely didn’t run a crisp route.

 Brady finished his practice 2 of 8 with two drops.

 Wendell got all the first- and second-team reps at center.

 Not many changes on defense, but with James Ihedigbo out, the Patriots gave all the other safeties — Nate Ebner, Will Allen, Josh Barrett, and Sergio Brown — reps next to Tavon Wilson.

 Stallworth got a lot of work as the kick returner.

SCHEDULE

Monday: 1:30-4 p.m.

The rest of the schedule is TBA.

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