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Practice rundown #5

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  July 31, 2012 07:00 PM

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FOXBOROUGH – Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice this afternoon:

ATTENDANCE PLEASE
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).
Returned to practice: LB Brandon Spikes, OT Darrion Weems.

INJURIES

None.

DRESS CODE
Full pads for the third-straight practice.

TOP PLAYS
- In a red-zone drill pitting receivers against cornerbacks, QB Tom Brady and WR Brandon Lloyd hooked up on a great timing touchdown that victimized CB Ras-I Dowling.
- In the same drill, QB Brian Hoyer showed terrific touch to WR Donte’ Stallworth over CB Devin McCourty.
- LB Dont’a Hightower deflected a pass in the goal-line session after having a tackle for a loss in an earlier team period.

THUMBS UP
The Patriots seemed to be rewarding three players for their play so far in camp as Donald Thomas received most of the snaps at left guard, Sterling Moore took some of the nickel cornerback reps from Ras-I Dowling and Ron Brace was elevated from the third team. Good to see strong play rewarded. All of the players – especially Thomas and Brace – have earned a longer look to this point.

THUMBS DOWN
In our subjective opinion, center Dan Koppen has lost his last five one-on-one matchups, some very lopsided. His struggles are becoming predictable and alarming. Koppen hasn’t been able to match the strength of the Patriots’ defensive tackles, and his trademark feet don’t seem to be as quick. Brandon Deaderick easily went through Koppen in one-on-ones. Would be nice to see Dan Connolly get more reps in the starting spot he earned last season.

SUPERLATIVES
- Dropped passes: Brandon Lloyd, Shane Vereen, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater.
- Nice catch: Donte’ Stallworth, Edelman.
- Fumbled: RB Brandon Bolden.
- Interceptions: Ross Ventrone (of Ryan Mallett off Aaron Lavarias tip).

ONE-ON-ONES
One man’s personal 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: Marcus Cannon (2-0-0), Darrion Weems (1-0-0). Defense: Jermaine Cunningham (2-0-0), Brandon Deaderick (2-0-1), Chandler Jones (1-0-1), Vince Wilfork (1-0-1)
Struggled-Offense: Dan Koppen (0-2-0), Matt Kopa (0-2-0), Jeremiah Warren (0-2-0). Defense: Trevor Scott (0-2-0).
Decided victories: Jones (vs. Nate Solder), Cunningham (vs. Kopa), Gerard Warren (vs. Jeremiah Warren), Justin Francis (vs. Kyle Hix), Deaderick (vs. Koppen).

  • Darrion Weems was able to practice in pads for the first time and asserted himself at tackle by knocking rookie DE Jake Bequette to the ground in one-on-ones. Weems also leveled Carpenter in a run drill.
  • Jones continues to show much wider array of moves for a rookie – especially one that came out early. He’ll need to show more power to play every down, but so far so good. Jones used a rip move on Solder on their first go-around. Solder got some measure of revenge the next time with a very strong punch, but he couldn’t hold off Jones the entire time.
  • Cunningham used a terrific inside spin move to leave Kopa in the dust. You never saw that last year in camp. He also had a sack against Weems in teams drills.
  • Cannon rebounded nicely from a tough day on Sunday but is struggling in other drills.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Spikes was back on the field but you can tell he doesn’t feel all the way back – he didn’t quite have his usual high level of energy. It sure was nice, however, to see Spikes on the field at the same time as Jerod Mayo and first-round pick Dont’a Hightower. If they can stay healthy, that’s going to be a formidable group.
  • There shouldn’t be any concern about whether or not WR Wes Welker will continue to be a highly productive player. He is still the most dangerous and slippery receiver when it comes to man coverage. He was outstanding in the one-on-one battles on Tuesday, the first time we’ve seen those WR vs. CB drills in camp.
  • WR Julian Edelman has been very good in that department as well. He’s been one of the surging players in this camp.
  • CB Devin McCourty is slowly becoming a better player in coverage. His technique at the line still needs refining – he’s still getting a bit out of phase against the WRs.
  • CB Ras-I Dowling, who seemed to pick up his game on Sunday, was up and down on Tuesday. He has still yet to make a play on the ball, but you get the sense that it’s coming. Dowling seems to be playing with more confidence. He’s going to have to fend off Moore, who deserves a shot at the third corner job.
  • Kyle Arrington seems to be growing into the slot CB role but he’s going to have to watch how much contact he uses near the line of scrimmage.
  • TE Rob Gronkowski had a nice back-shoulder snag against LB Bobby Carpenter but still isn’t himself with the ankle. Gronkowski got rag-dolled by Scott in a run-blocking drill. That never happens.
  • The running backs did much better in the pass-blocking drill on Tuesday, probably because the backs were allowed to go out for passes on occasion. That kept the linebackers honest, and allowed FB Eric Kettani to make Hightower look bad in coverage.
  • Brandon Bolden has played well but he didn’t himself with the first RB fumble of camp.
  • Vereen hasn’t wowed running the ball but there shouldn’t be any questions about his pass-catching ability. Outside of Danny Woodhead, Vereen is the best receiver of the bunch. Catches the ball very nicely over his shoulder.
  • In the goal-line period, Jones stuffed Stevan Ridley for no gain, Brady threw incomplete to Spencer Larsen when Hightower tipped the ball away, Cunningham and Gerard Warren blasted the right side of the line to halt Bolden, and then Bolden scored when he bounced a run outside.
  • Bequette, who has already been used at end and tackle on defense, was used a third tight end.

SCHEDULE
- Wednesday's practice: 6:30 p.m. (Closed evening practice in the stadium for season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents).
- Thursday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.
- Friday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.

The rest is TBD.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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