FOXBOROUGH – A look at Thursday’s practice:
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).
Continued to be 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), OT Kyle Hix (right shoulder), FB Eric Kettani (unknown), DT Gerard Warren (unknown), S James Ihedigbo (unknown), CB Malcolm Williams (unknown).
New absences: WR Jabar Gaffney (right quad).
Limited in practice: LG Logan Mankins (right knee - some team drills).
Returned to practice: RG Dan Connolly was full go.
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. OG Nick McDonald had his eye checked out before returning.
Full pads for fourth-straight day.
Rob Gronkowski had a really nice one-handed touchdown grab going towards the back right pylon.
Jesse Holley allow snagged pass with one paw during one-on-ones from Brian Hoyer.
Ryan Mallett had a big-play touchdown pass to Donte’ Stallworth during 7-on-7s over CB Derrick Martin.
Nate Ebner was thought to be an afterthought when he was drafted by the Patriots in the sixth round. Even he was surprised to get drafted, especially given 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 the backup safety spot. He also took over for Tavon Wilson at the “money” position (a linebacker/defensive back hybrid) in sub packages. It would be a surprise if Ebner doesn’t make this team.
There were again all sorts of blocking problems up front – both 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 a loss by the defense as the offense couldn’t get out of their own way. At one point, the offense was so bad that Jerod Mayo openly mocked them by asking for the punt team on third down. Later, Brady – who was 13 of 23 with five sacks in team periods -- just shrugged at offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
Dropped passes: Wes Welker, Donte’ Stallworth.
Nice catch: Gronkowski, Holley.
Fumbled: Bolden (punt).
Interceptions: 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. Love).
For the first time in forever, the starting offensive line came out like gangbusters with Cannon (vs. Bequette), Connolly (vs. Wilfork), Wendell (vs. Love) and Mankins (vs. Deaderick) all delivered victories to start the drill before Solder had a draw with Ninkovich.
At one point the offense led 6-0-2 to start the drill. And then the defense feasted on the Patriots’ 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 Trevor Scott after failing to sustain his initial punch.
Jones beat Darrion Weems but it took a strong second effort from Jones because Weems had an effective punch.
ODDS AND ENDS
-- In red zone 7-on-7, Brady was 5 of 7 with an interception.
-- With no fullbacks healthy, Brandon Bolden got a lot of work there, along 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 a loss in the four-minute drill where the offense was trying to run out the clock. Brandon Spikes had a couple has 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 the terribly overmatched Jeremiah Warren.
-- The Patriots ran a reverse that was a complete trainwreck behind the backup offensive line.
-- Marcus Forston absolutely 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 he 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 Nate Ebner had pass breakups.
Friday: 1:30-4 p.m. (final open practice)
Michael Whitmer contributed to this report.