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Patriots Training Camp Notes: Competition Brewing on Offensive Line


FOXBOROUGH — There's a competition for starting spots on the New England Patriots' offensive line. That much is clear.

Who are the front-runners? There's no telling as of the second day of training camp.

Ryan Wendell shared the reps at center with Dan Connolly, who was the team's starter in 2011. When Connolly was at center, Jon Halapio and Josh Kline each shared time as the right guard. Marcus Cannon was in for most of the team drills, with Sebastian Vollmer continuing to rehab from a season-ending leg injury.

Based on the shuffling of players, the center and right guard spots appear to be the ones that are up for grabs.

With no pads, it's difficult to get a read on who is playing well and who is not. The Patriots will practice in pads for the first time on Saturday, and with the impending one-on-one drills against the defensive linemen, we could start to see some players separate themselves from the pack, for better or worse.

Here are some other observations from the second day of training camp:

— Rookie DB Jemea Thomas was the lone player absent from practice. WR Aaron Dobson, WR Matthew Slater, CB Alfonzo Dennard, LB Deontae Skinner, OL Chris Martin, DT Dominique Easley, WR Jeremy Gallon, and DT Tommy Kelly were present but not participating in practice.

— Touchdowns: WR Kenbrell Thompkins (4), WR Danny Amendola (3), WR Brandon LaFell (2), RB Shane Vereen (2), WR Julian Edelman, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, WR Wilson Van Hooser, WR Josh Boyce.

— Interceptions: LB Chris White and CB Daxton Swanson (both via QB Jimmy Garoppolo).

— Pass breakups: CB Kyle Arrington, LB Jamie Collins, CB Daxton Swanson, SS Nate Ebner.

— Drops: RBs Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley.

— Take a lap: LT Nate Solder (false start), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (fumble), RB Brandon Bolden (fumble),

— Passing stats (combined 7-on-7 and 11-on-11): Tom Brady (13-for-21), Ryan Mallett (7-for-14), Jimmy Garoppolo (6-for-12).

— TEs DJ Williams and Michael Hoomanawanui continued to split the first-team reps, with TE Rob Gronkowski still limited and held out of team drills.

— There's been a lot of talk about the competition between WRs Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce for a roster spot, and if that is indeed the case, Thompkins appears to be ahead by a sizable margin right now. Boyce watched while Thompkins was involved in a drill catching passes from Brady alongside Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, and Brandon LaFell. Boyce's first reception of the day came over two hours into practice.

— The pass-catchers all took part in a neat drill to practice catching passes in traffic. Two trainers had blue cushions covering their forearms and swiped at a pass while the receiver stood between the two trainers and had to catch the ball.

— With Matthew Slater continuing to be held out of practice, there was an interesting drill taking place where Kyle Arrington, Logan Ryan, Kanorris Davis, Derrick Johnson, Justin Green and Travis Hawkins were working on getting around a blocker (a trainer) and running downfield. Later, Stephen Gostkowski would bounce a soccer ball at the goal line and the gunners would try to down it at the one-yard line.

— Jimmy Garoppolo did not have a good day of practice. He and Brandon Bolden ran a lap for a fumbled handoff exchange. Garoppolo was also the only quarterback to throw an interception — he threw two — and he has now thrown three picks in the first two days of practice.

— While the rest of the team was taking part in special teams drills, Brady was on the adjacent field doing goal line work with LaFell, Thompkins, Edelman, and Gronkowski. Brady would roll to his right and throw a pass to a receiver running an out route in the end zone toward the pylon and sideline. Amendola was fielding punts while this was taking place.

— One of the more noteworthy plays of the day goes to Arrington, who made a leaping pass-break-up against Amendola on a sideline fade route.

— Another candidate for play of the day was Shane Vereen's leaping touchdown grab against linebacker James Anderson in coverage. Vereen ran a wheel route down the left sideline, and leaped over Anderson to come down with the grab while keeping his feet in-bounds and maintaining possession all the way to the ground.

— To this point in training camp, Darrelle Revis has looked phenomenal — he hasn't been targeted more than a handful of times — but he was on the wrong end of a touchdown grab by Thompkins on a corner route.

— Rookie CB Daxton Swanson had a stellar mini-camp, and he carried it over with a fine performance on Friday. He notched a pass break-up on a throw from Brady to LaFell, and made a difficult interception on an errant pass by Garoppolo. Swanson is a dark horse candidate for the roster.

— Tyler Ott was in as the long-snapper during field goal work, which consisted of only the trio of Ott, Ryan Allen as the place-holder and Stephen Gostkowski as the kicker. Meanwhile, Danny Aiken stood guard to catch the ball after it sailed into the VIP section of fans.

— Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, and Patrick Chung all took turns as the starting strong safeties in team drills.




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