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Practice rundown #6

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  August 1, 2012 09:01 PM

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FOXBOROUGH – Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice Wednesday evening inside Gillette Stadium in front of season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents.

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), CB Will Allen (unknown), C Dan Connolly (unknown), WR Brandon Lloyd (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown).

INJURIES

LB Brandon Spikes went to the locker room after LT Nate Solder gave him a shot on the ground. Spikes returned to the field.

RT Matt Kopa was slow to get up after a play, went to the locker room and did not return.

DRESS CODE
Full pads for the fourth-straight practice.

TOP PLAYS

  • Really nice touch from QB Ryan Mallett to Britt Davis, who was covered tightly by Ross Ventrone. Tavon Wilson couldn’t provide safety help in time.
  • Wilson, in as a linebacker in a dime package in a two-minute drill to end practice, had a terrific breakup of a Brady pass intended for TE Rob Gronkowski.
  • Later in the same drill, TE Aaron Hernandez caught a pass from Brian Hoyer that looked impossible – with James Ihedigbo in Hernandez’s face and Josh Barrett over the top.

THUMBS UP
They haven’t been good to this point, but you have to give the first-team offensive line props for their performance on Wednesday. The unit of LT Nate Solder, LG Donald Thomas, C Ryan Wendell, RG Robert Gallery and RT Marcus Cannon was much-improved over anything we’ve seen to this point. They were very effective as the run game was featured in this practice. Dan Koppen, whose struggles continued on Wednesday, was working on the second team.

THUMBS DOWN
Mallett had his best public practice as a Patriot on Sunday and was solid on Tuesday. He wasn’t terrible on Wednesday but he did throw two interceptions and couldn't find anyone open on two plays and held the ball.

SUPERLATIVES
Dropped passes: Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney, Julian Edelman, Spencer Larsen, Wes Welker.
Nice catch: Hernandez (3), Davis.
Fumbled: None.
Interceptions: Kyle Arrington and Bobby Carpenter (both of Mallett).

ONE-ON-ONES
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 Marcus Cannon (2-0-0), Robert Gallery (1-0-1), Ryan Wendell (1-0-1). Defense: Gerard Warren (2-0-0), Trevor Scott (1-0-1), Chandler Jones (1-0-1)
Struggled -- Offense: Dan Koppen (0-2-0), Matt Kopa (0-1-1). Defense: Jermaine Cunningham (0-2-0).
Decided victories: Jones (vs. Weems), Scott (vs. Kopa), Gerard Warren (vs. Jeremiah Warren), Kyle Love (vs. Koppen).

  • A nice job by the offensive line to hold their own with a dead heat (7-7-4), the first time in camp the offense has been even.
  • Koppen’s losing streak now sits at seven straight reps, and he wasn’t really close in this practice. Koppen set too hard of an edge against Ron Brace, and the tackle easily moved him out out of the way. Love used a club move to completely knock Koppen off balance on his final rep.
  • Wendell has really started to come on. He’s playing with an excellent base and was tough for Love and Marcus Harrison to move.
  • Cannon’s quick feet have stood out as he has picked up his play. Both Cunningham and Jake Bequette couldn’t find room to get around Cannon.
  • Gerard Warren is really tough to block, which is what he showed in last year’s camp as well. Power and surprising quickness.
  • Jones showed speed to get into Weems before the tackle could set his arms. Weems got revenge against Cunningham when he completely stoned him.
  • Cunningham slowed down his torrid pace. He just didn’t get after it.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Huge crowd, around 22,000, on hand at the stadium. Another great turnout.
  • As is usual during training camp, tempers are starting to get short. Koppen got into twice with defensive players and then Solder took a cheap shot at LB Brandon Spikes, who was already on the ground. Patrick Chung took offense and nailed Solder, and a then a pretty good scrum broke out.
  • Dont’a Hightower looks like a natural at the strong-side linebacker position. He consistently holds his own against tight ends and tackles at the point of attack. Hightower has been the most physical player in camp. He absolutely stopped FB Spencer Larsen in his tracks on a running play. Completely stood Larsen up. He has also shown better instincts in coverage than previously thought.
  • With Lloyd out, the passing offense seemed choppy. The secondary had probably its best practice of camp. It didn’t allow many easy throws.
  • Brady and Brian Hoyer each got a chance to run the two-minute drill. Brady was just 1 of 3, including a Welker drop and likely a pass interference call against Arrington, who was muscling Welker all the way down the field. Brady’s group picked up just one first down.
  • Hoyer was 4 of 5 and led his group to three first downs and a field-goal attempt at the whistle.
  • Cunningham, who has been surging, was in the starting lineup on the left side for Trevor Scott. Ninkovich continued to be on the sideline.
  • With OT Darrion Weems immediately showing he’s an upgrade over anything the Patriots have in reserve, he was on the second team at LT, which kicked Kyle Hix inside to LG.
  • Sergio Brown’s odds of making the team seem to be diminishing. It looks like Josh Barrett is taking many of Brown’s spots on special teams. Brown’s play on those units were a bright spot last season.
  • On a running drill, Cannon blocked down instead of out and really heard it from line coach Dante Scarnecchia.
  • Outstanding punting period for Zoltan Mesko, who averaged 4.46 seconds of hang time on eight punts.
  • Mesko’s performance was even better considering three of Danny Aiken’s snaps were low.
  • CB Ras-I Dowling is starting to make strides on a consistent basis. Physically he looks better than he did in the off-season practices, and he’s doing a solid job in coverage.
  • Alex Silvestro has moved full time from end to tight end and is now wearing No. 49.
  • Gronkowski is a little bit up and down with his play and doesn’t look quite right physically, but he showed some of his blocking flare when he manhandled Scott on a running play.
  • Weems made such an impression that he took him all of one practice to be the backup left tackle, a move that kicked Kyle Hix to left guard. Weems has really opened some eyes in the early going. Weems and Hix opened up perhaps the biggest running hold of camp for Brandon Bolden.
  • Bolden continues to get more running attempts than Shane Vereen.

SCHEDULE

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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