FOXBOROUGH – Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice this afternoon:
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), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), OT Darrion Weems (no contact per CBA), CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring).
- DL Justin Francis had to be carted off with what appeared to be a left knee or calf injury. He appeared to be in a lot of pain. That would be a tough blow to an undrafted player who had made a good early impression.
- LB Tracy White, who had sports hernia surgery in the offseason, walked off with the field with a trainer and did not return.
- TE Rob Gronkowski took a shot to the face, left with trainers and then returned to action with a bandage on his chin.
Full pads for the first time in camp.
– The crowd had a huge roar on the first play of 7-on-7s when QB Tom Brady went deep down the right sideline to WR Brandon Lloyd. CB Sterling Moore had great coverage, but Lloyd won the battle in the air when he plucked it off Moore’s helmet.
– On a similar play later, CB Devin McCourty did a nice job reading Lloyd’s hands and knocking the ball away at the last second.
– Undrafted rookie RB Brandon Bolden continued to open eyes with his all-around play, including the biggest run of the day in team drills. He reminds more and more each day of another former undrafted player, BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Real good body control and vision.
– On his first one-on-one drill of camp, NT Vince Wilfork was beaten by LG Dan Connolly. That’s an accomplishment. Wilfork was never defeated in 2011, going 9-0-10. Wilfork got his revenge later with a decided victory.
While we’re a long way from having a definitive answer on how much first round-pick Chandler Jones will contribute as a rookie, he got off to a very good start in the first padded practice. Not only was he a perfect 3-0 in the one-on-one drill, Jones did a nice job being physical and active during 11-on-11s. It wasn’t perfect – Jones got turned around once and gave up leverage a few times – but an impressive day.
Outside of Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen, the interior players on the Patriots’ offensive line have been subpar. They were dominated for the most part in one-on-ones and didn’t get much movement during a goal-line drill. We didn’t expect much without Mankins and Waters on the field, but the play has to improve or the Patriots will have to look at taking a look at other players.
– Dropped passes: None.
– Nice catch: Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker.
– Fumbled: Aaron Hernandez.
– Interceptions: None.
One man’s personal opinion on how the offensive and defensive lines matched up in one-on-one drills (our favorite part of camp):
Standouts–Offense: OG Donald Thomas (1-0-2), OT Matt Kopa (2-1-0). Defense: DE Chandler Jones (3-0-0), DT Jonathan Fanene (3-0-0), Ron Brace (2-0-0), Gerard Warren (2-0-1).
Struggled a little bit – Offense: OT Kyle Hix (0-3-0) C Ryan Wendell (0-3-0), OG Jamey Richard (0-3-0), Robert Gallery (0-2-2), OG Jeremiah Warren (0-1-1). Defense: DE Tim Bulman (0-1-0), DE Jake Bequette (0-1-0), DT Marcus Harrison (0-0-2).
Decided victories: DT Vince Wilfork 2 (vs. Richard, Connolly); DE Trevor Scott (vs. Hix), DE Rob Ninkovich (vs. OT Matt Kopa); Jones (vs. Hix); Fanene (vs. Wendell).
- In two sessions combined, the defensive line had its way with the offense going 21-11-7 overall.
- In addition to Jones’ good debut, Fanene made a very good first impression in pads when he showed the interior pass rush that he was known for with the Bengals.
- Jones showed he can use power and finesse. He flashed his own version of the up-down move – used a lot by Mark Anderson last year – to get around Hix on one rep.
- DE Trevor Scott looked impressive even though he finished 1-1-1. Has good playing strength. Not as flexible as Jones.
- Nate Solder went 2-2-1 in his first go at LT. Line coach Dante Scarnecchia was giving him a lot of instruction. Solder got better as the drills progressed.
- Marcus Cannon, who didn’t go through camp last year while recovering from cancer treatments, was 1-2-1.
ODDS AND ENDS
- WLB Jerod Mayo has been the best defensive player through three days as he continues to grow into the playmaking role the Patriots have carved out for him.
- First-round pick Dont’a Hightower took more of the first-round snaps from Bobby Carpenter at strong-side linebacker. We expected that at some point, but maybe not quite this early. Hightower also continues to play the middle on the second team. Hightower was quickly in the face of Hoyer on one play, but the quarterback made a nice play to connect with Donte’ Stallworth.
- Brady just keeps clicking. He was 13-of-15 in 7-on-7s. Ryan Mallet was 8 of 9, and Hoyer received just three reps (he hit all three). The feeling here is the Patriots know what they have in Hoyer, but they need to find out what Mallett is capable of, especially with Hoyer likely entering his final season. At this point, Mallett is no threat to Hoyer’s backup spot.
- Safety Sergio Brown had another miscue when he took a bad angle and then bumped into CB Ross Ventrone, who was in coverage against WR Jesse Holley.
- Gallery and Wendell did a nice job executing ahead of a screen pass to Stevan Ridley.
- Rookie safety Tavon Wilson got a dose of the NFL when TE Aaron Hernandez faked Wilson out of his drawers after a pass. He shouldn’t worry, that happens to a lot of players against Hernandez.
- TE Visanthe Shiancoe and Koppen both would have been called for holding against Jones and Marcus Fortson, respectively, if officials were on the field.
- There were a lot of penalty laps being run for players being offsides. Coach Bill Belichick will probably have something to say about that.
- LB Jeff Tarpinian, who is still playing all over top special team units, had a nice pass breakup.
- We’ve been seeing more and more of CB Ras-I Dowling getting looks at both cornerback spots.
- The Patriots continue to tinker with something we saw a lot of last season: safeties playing linebacker in subpackages. Both Wilson and James Ihedigbo, who was in the role last year, showed off their versatility.
– Sunday’s practice: 1:30-4 p.m.
– Wednesday’s practice: in-stadium evening practice for season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents.
The rest is TBD.