Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice this morning:
– Unsigned draft picks: OT Nate Solder, RB Shane Vereen, CB Ras-I Dowling.
– Veterans who can’t practice until Aug. 4: CB Kyle Arrington, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (restricted), G Logan Mankins (franchise), RB Sammy Morris (unrestricted), RB Kevin Faulk (unrestricted), DL Steve Williams (unrestricted).
– Physically unable to perform list: DL Ron Brace, DL Brandon Deaderick, DL Myron Pryor.
– Non-football injury list: OL Mike Berry, S James Sanders, OL Marcus Cannon.
– Returned to practice: LB Brandon Spikes, who did not finish practice yesterday for the second-straight day; TE Aaron Hernandez.
– Out: LS Matt Katula, S Josh Barrett, DL Albert Haynesworth.
– None from the looks of it.
Full pads, baby. Strap it up.
TOP OF THE NEWS
– Hernandez was taking part in practice for the first time since having off-season hip surgery. He looked like his old self, and appeared to be a little thicker. He did not look like a tall receiver. Put on some muscle.
– Haynesworth was nowhere to be found. Coach Bill Belichick said “he’s not ready to practice yet.”
– Rookie QB Ryan Mallett appears to be inching up the depth chart already. He split most of the third-team reps with Jonathan Crompton.
In 7-on-7s, Taylor Price caught a beautiful long pass from Tom Brady, getting separation from Brandon Meriweather when he pretended to cut across the field, freezing the safety.
LOVE ME SOME ONE-ON-ONES
– The big boys went head-to-head today. By my count, the defensive line had nine wins, the offensive line six and there were nine draws.
– The standouts were OLB Jermaine Cunningham (2-0-0), OLB Markell Carter (2-0-0), OT Thomas Austin (2-0-0), C Dan Koppen (2-0-1), DE Aaron Lavarias (1-0-0), DE Alex Silvestro (1-0-0), DE Eric Moore (1-0-0), G Dan Connolly (1-0-3) and G Ryan Wendell (0-0-4).
– Those that struggled: OT Mark LeVoir (0-3-0), DL Marlon Favorite (0-2-0), OL Kyle Hix (0-2-0) and OL Corey Woods (0-2-0). Hix had a really tough time and got beat on back-to-back plays.
– Decided victories came from DE Mike Wright, who slammed past Woods with quickness, and Koppen. He completely stuffed Favorite in his tracks. Koppen was in top form. The thing that’s so impressive about him is how efficient he is in his movement. Nothing is wasted.
While I was consumed with one-on-ones, Shalise Manza-Young checked out the other drill. Here’s the rest of her report:
– With Hoyer at quarterback: a deep ball intended for Deion Branch fell to the grass when Branch got tangled up with safety Sergio Brown. In a game, Brown likely would have been called for pass interference, giving the offense a fresh set of downs less than 20 yards from the end zone.
– Crompton: Lee Smith had to reach behind him for a short pass over the middle, but flashed his solid hands and made the catch.
– Mallett: seemed to get the most snaps in the drill, and showed off his arm on a pass to Branch on the left sideline. The ball came out of Mallett’s hand very quickly, and he put it on a rope for Branch, who couldn’t make the catch; the pass went off his left hand. Mallett completed three straight passes to Wes Welker before the attempt to Branch.
ODDS AND ENDS
– Some good contact in our first hitting drill of camp, which was 4-man line (three OL, 1 TE) vs. three defenders (two DL, one LB). OT Thomas Austin, who spent last season on the practice squad, was a standout. He pancaked Kyle Love on one play, and then teamed with OG Dan Connolly and TE Rob Gronkowski to open up a huge hole for the running back. Mark LeVoir got some nice push. TE Will Yeatman – who is immense, by the way, can’t believe he played attack in lacrosse — whiffed on LB Clay Nurse, who later had a tackle for a loss in another drill. RB Thomas Clayton had a fumble but it was put on center Koppen and QB Crompton, who had to run a lap.
– S Brett Lockett, RB Stevan Ridley, DB Malcolm Williams and LB Dane Fletcher are among those getting some time with top special teams units.
– Gronkowski looked to be in mid-season form with his run blocking as he usually dominated. He appeared to have a couple holds, however. No refs on the field.
– Mallett had an uneven day. He was picked by Devin McCourty (two interceptions) in one drill. In another he was clumsy getting back to pass and threw up a pass that should have been picked off by Patrick Chung. He also was slow to get out on the handoff to Stevan Ridley on a stretch play. You can tell Mallett is adjusting to the offense. But every once in a while he flicks it with easy on a 25-yard out. Mallett can certainly spin it when he gets set.
– Dropped it like it’s hot: Darnell Jenkins, Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate.
– Hoyer continued to be up and down. He threw a great pass to Tate in one drill, and then in another he bounced consecutive passes at the feet of receivers.
– Gary Guyton played more OLB today.
– Brandon Spikes absolutely blew up an offensive lineman on a play (sorry, missed the number). Slammed him to the ground.
– Wendell had a great seal of Spikes during a running drill.
– As is the custom with Patriots wide receivers, Ochcocinco rotated among the outside receiver positions, the X and Y.
– Brady was 3-of-3 in the first team period, although on a pass to Ochocinco, Brady would have been sacked because Wright was in his grill before pulling up.
– Hoyer was 2-of-2. On the three running plays, OL Corey Woods couldn’t handle DE Darryl Richard, Wendell pulled effectively – but slowly – and cleared out LB Dane Fletcher, and Austin cleared a big hole for Ridley.
– We had our first fight near the end of practice when Thomas Austin and Marlon Favorite went at it on the ground. Austin threw a few punches that didn’t seem to connect. Might have been payback for one-on-ones. Or the fact that Austin had a stellar day and was kicking everybody’s tail.
UPDATE: Got home last night and forgot to add something. Tom Brady had two of the worst passes you’ll see from him on back-to-back plays. He severely underthrew a pass to Julian Edelman and it was picked off by McCourty. On the next play, there was confusion between between Brady and Gronkowski and it should have ended in an interception by Brandon Meriweather.
Stephen Gostkowski made some progress with his second session of camp. He snapped the leg much harder and was 5-of-5 before missing slightly to the right from what looked like a kick of about 50 yards.
– Sunday’s practices: 10-11 a.m. (walkthrough); 2:30-5 p.m.