Patriots practice report
Greg A. Bedard’s rundown of Patriots practice Thursday:
Reserve/did not report: G Brian Waters.
Exempt/left team: FB Tony Fiammetta.
Physically unable to perform: T Sebastian Vollmer (back), T Markus Zusevics (unknown), TE Daniel Fells (shoulder), TE Jake Ballard (knee), DT Myron Pryor (shoulder).
Still out: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), LB Tracy White (unknown), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown), FB Spencer Larsen (unknown), T Matt Kopa (leg), T Kyle Hix (right shoulder), FB Eric Kettani (unknown), DT Gerard Warren (unknown), S James Ihedigbo (unknown), CB Malcolm Williams (unknown).
New absence: WR Jabar Gaffney (right quadriceps).
Limited in practice: G Logan Mankins (right knee/some team drills).
Returned to practice: G Dan Connolly.
Injured during practice: RB Stevan Ridley (right hamstring) and S Tavon Wilson (left ankle) did not return. TE Aaron Hernandez had his knee looked at, but kept going. G Nick McDonald had his eye checked out before returning.
■ Rob Gronkowski had a nice one-handed touchdown grab going toward the back right pylon.
■ Jesse Holley snagged a pass with one hand during one-on-ones from Brian Hoyer.
■ Ryan Mallett had a big-play touchdown pass to Donté Stallworth during seven-on-sevens over CB Derrick Martin.
Nate Ebner was considered an afterthought when he was drafted in the sixth round. Even he was surprised to be picked, given that most of his play had been on a rugby field. But the Patriots apparently like what they see because he is all over the special teams units, and he’s in the mix at backup safety. He also took over for Wilson at the “money” position (a linebacker/defensive back hybrid) in sub packages. It will be a surprise if Ebner doesn’t make this team.
There again were all sorts of blocking problems — for the run and the pass — during team periods. At one point during a situational overtime period, there were three sacks in six plays by Dont’a Hightower, Jermaine Cunningham and Chandler Jones (split), and Trevor Scott. Counted another five tackles for losses as the offense couldn’t get out of its own way. At one point, the offense was so bad that Jerod Mayo openly mocked it by asking for the punt team on third down. Later, Tom Brady, who was 13 of 23 with five sacks in team periods, just shrugged at offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Wes Welker, Stallworth.
Nice catches: Gronkowski, Holley.
Fumbled:Brandon Bolden (punt).
Interception: Mike Rivera (of Brady).
One man’s opinion on how the offensive and defensive lines matched up in one-on-one drills (our favorite part of camp). Records shown indicate wins-losses-draws.
Standouts: Offense: Ryan Wendell (1-0-0). Defense: none.
Struggled: Offense: none. Defense: Marcus Forston (1-2-0).
Decided victories: Wendell (vs. Kyle Love).
For the first time in recent memory, the starting offensive line came out like gangbusters with Marcus Cannon (vs. Jake Bequette), Connolly (vs. Vince Wilfork), Wendell (vs. Love), and Mankins (vs. Brandon Deaderick) all delivering victories to start the drill, before Nate Solder had a draw with Rob Ninkovich. At one point, the offense led, 6-0-2. And then the defense feasted on the backups. The offense ended up winning just one of the final seven reps to squeak out a 7-6-2 edge. Wendell absolutely stuffed Love. Yielded no ground. Cannon got off his losing streak by riding Bequette outside, but then lost to Scott after failing to sustain his initial punch. Jones beat Darrion Weems, but it took a strong second effort because Weems had an effective punch.
ODDS AND ENDS
■ In red-zone seven-on-seven, Brady was 5 of 7 with an interception.
■ With no healthy fullbacks, Bolden got a lot of work there, with Hernandez sprinkled in. Hernandez did a nice job sealing the end during a big run by Ridley, who was splitting time with Shane Vereen before Ridley’s injury. Obviously, the players know Ridley’s ball security is being looked at because Patrick Chung popped him and then tried hard to rip the ball out.
■ Jones had two tackles for losses in the four-minute drill in which the offense was trying to run out the clock. Brandon Spikes had a couple as he was back to flying through the line at the snap.
■ Wilfork was able to knock down a Brady pass despite going half-speed over an overmatched Jeremiah Warren.
■ The Patriots ran a reverse that was a train wreck behind the backup offensive line. Forston teed off on Bolden in the backfield after blowing up Weems at the snap.
■ Welker and Brady completed a Hail Mary in the end zone.
■ Brady and Danny Woodhead hooked up on a nice touchdown when Woodhead lost Ras-I Dowling in coverage. Woodhead made a one-handed catch on a screen, and then Hightower horse-collared him down.
■ Kyle Arrington, Wilson, and Ebner had pass breakups.
Friday: 1:30-4 p.m. (final open practice).
Michael Whitmer of the Globe staff contributed to this report.