FOXBOROUGH – Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice this afternoon:
Reserve/did not report: RG Brian Waters.
Physically unable to perform: LG Logan Mankins (knee), RT Sebastian Vollmer (back), C Nick McDonald (unknowns), 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), LB Brandon Spikes (knee).
First real injury of camp occurred midway through when seventh-round CB Alfonzo Dennard collided with FB Spencer Larsen and walked off with a hamstring injury. Dennard did not return.
Shells (soft pads) and shorts. Practice was at a much slower pace, with half being a walkthrough.
- Before he went off with an injury, Dennard produced one of the top plays by a member of the secondary when he tipped away a deep pass from Tom Brady to Jabar Gaffney at the last second down the right sideline.
- On the first play of 11-on-11, the crowd was jazzed when Brady hooked up with Brandon Lloyd for a long touchdown over CB Kyle Arrington. In real football, however, Jerod Mayo would have had a sack.
- TE Aaron Hernandez again had two sensational catches on passes thrown behind him by Brady.
- Will Allen, after sliding down from safety to slot corner, read a screen pass perfectly and touched Julian Edelman for a loss.
Real training camp starts Saturday, when the Patriots are allowed to put pads on for the first time. This is when jobs start to be won and lost and we get a better sense for the physicality of players, especially those on the lines. Buckle your chinstraps.
The wacky football adventures of safety Sergio Brown continue. The last memory most have of Brown from last season is when he tackled Giants WR Victor Cruz at the goal line for a pass interference penalty during the regular-season matchup. New York scored three plays later to win the game. Brown was in good position today against WR Brandon Lloyd, but lost the ball in the air and ended up colliding with Lloyd in what would have been a penalty in a regular-season game.
- Dropped passes: FB Spencer Larsen, RB Brandon Bolden.
- Nice catch: Edelman, Hernandez (2), RB Shane Vereen
- Fumbled: Hoyer.
- Interceptions: LB Bobby Carpenter (of Brady).
ODDS AND ENDS
- Only two notable personnel swaps: Robert Gallery was the full-time right guard, and Dan Connolly moved from right to left guard; third-round pick Jake Bequette took over for first-round selection Chandler Jones at DE in subpackages. It’s early. It doesn’t mean anything.
- Jones wasn’t seen much in the second practice while LB Dont’a Hightower continues to be used in a variety of spots.
- For the first time we saw Brady and Lloyd not be on the same page on a few plays. Brady threw to one spot and Lloyd was in another. We call that an “Ocho” around here.
- Interesting that bubble players like linebackers Niko Koutouvides, Jeff Tarpinian, and Tracy White, and CB Malcolm Williams continue to see time on the top special teams units. If that keeps up, a lot of projected rosters will need to be reworked.
- CB Ras-I Dowling did a very nice job standing up TE Rob Gronkowski when he lined up at wide receiver.
- Quarterbacks are not supposed to be touched during drills but Brian Hoyer wound up on his back when his line – the first-string unit, even – backpedaled into him as DE Justin Francise and Tarpinian provided pressure. Hoyer may have been at fault because Ryan Mallett took the next snap.
- The quarterbacks continued to be sharp as the secondary has its issues. Brady was 28 of 33 with an interception. Mallett (10 of 12) had better statistics than Hoyer (5 of 10) in competitive situations, but Hoyer is still clearly better overall. Mallett continues to take too much time to make a decision and deliver the ball.
- Allen spends most of his time with the safeties, but he often slides into the slot corner role for the second team.
- The more I see of undrafted RB Brandon Bolden, the more I like him. He did have a dropped pass, but he has nice body control and burst. Vereen showed himself with a nice over-the-shoulder grab that is difficult for a RB.
- We had our first sighting of Fells, who has been not been seen while rehabbing his shoulder, in Patriots garb. He rode the bike at one point.
- Punter Zoltan Mesko had his first kicking day of camp and took a little while to get loose. On his first session, Mesko averaged 4.08 seconds on eight kicks, which is below average for him. But to finish practice, Mesko averaged 4.51 on his final eight kicks. That was terrific.
- Not a big fan of Hernandez joining Edelman, Wes Welker, and Deion Branch in fielding punts, but the Patriots had him out there. Hernandez had a tough time judging one fair catch. Edelman muffed one near the sideline.
- Saturday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.
- Sunday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.