FOXBOROUGH – Here’s a rundown on what went on at Patriots’ practice on Friday.
Reserve/did not report: RG Brian Waters.
Physically unable to perform: LG Logan Mankins (knee), RT Sebastian Vollmer (back), 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: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), LB Tracy White (unknown), FB Tony Fiammetta (unknown), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown), FB Spencer Larsen (unknown), OT Matt Kopa (leg).
Returned to practice: S Nate Ebner, C/G Nick McDonald (no team), WR Brandon Lloyd (no team), WR Deion Branch (no team), CB Will Allen, DE Jake Bequette.
Newly signed OG Derek Dennis couldn’t be in pads so he wasn’t participating in practice, but he still left via a cart for some reason.
Dan Koppen and Dan Connolly both needed trainer assistance during post-fight laps. both returned.
Back in full pads.
- Jabar Gaffney turned around twice before hauling in a deep pass from Brian Hoyer over S James Ihedigbo off a trick play. A great catch.
- DE Rob Ninkovich always stands out after a little rest. He was back after missing some time with an undisclosed ailment and then absolutely took it to RT Marcus Cannon on the first play of team drills. Cannon couldn’t handle the mix of speed and power.
- Undrafted DE Justin Francis steamrolled LT Nate Solder onto his back during a one-on-one rep thanks to an unbelievable speed rush. Don’t think Solder knew what hit him.
It didn’t take Dont’a Hightower to assert himself as the team’s starting strong-side linebacker, and that was expected. Now it seems clear that fellow first-round pick Chandler Jones is in command at right DE – he’s filling both the first- and second-team roles to, apparently, accelerate his learning process. Jones has absolutely deserved that spot after demonstrating surprising strength at the point of attack, and very advanced pass-rush moves. At this point, Jones is far from being just a role player.
Devin McCourty is not off to a good start in camp. After enduring a rough sophomore campaign, McCourty has been average so far and then had a really rough time on Friday. He was consistently beaten during red-zone coverage drills, and it looked even worse because he wasn’t turning his head around to spot the ball. McCourty needs to start picking it up or else Sterling Moore – who has shown the best ball skills by far – could earn a shot at lining up with Kyle Arrington and Ras-I Dowling.
Dropped passes: Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, Britt Davis
Nice catch: Gaffney, Wes Welker, Davis.
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 (1-0-1), Darrion Weems (1-0-1). Defense: Vince Wilfork (3-1-0), Rob Ninkovich (1-0-0), Justin Francis (1-0-0)
Struggled — Offense: Dan Koppen (0-2-0). Defense: Trevor Scott (0-1-0)
Decided victories: Wilfork 2 (vs. Koppen, Robert Gallery), Ninkovich (vs. Marcus Cannon), Francis (vs. Nate Solder).
- Wilfork must have been a little ticked that Dan Connolly handled him in Wilfork’s opening rep because not only did the nose tackle take more reps than anyone (four), he took his frustration out on Koppen, Thomas and Gallery. And Wilfork used three different techniques — club, rip and then bull rush — to dominate his opponent. Basically, when Wilfork doesn’t want to be blocked, he won’t be.
- Koppen has now lost nine-straight reps, and wound up on the ground in two-on-twos.
- Ninkovich made Cannon look bad blowing right by him with an inside move. It was Ninkovich’s first one-on-one rep since July 28.
- Solder did a very nice job to stuff Chandler Jones on the first snap, but Solder got pancaked by Francis on the second.
- Not sure what has happened to him, but Scott looked terrible against Kyle Hix. Scott has gone 1-3-1 in one-on-ones since starting 2-1-2 for a mediocre total of 3-4-3 so far.
- Cunningham easily lost his one rep and has dropped three-straight since starting 4-3-1.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Once again, TE Aaron Hernandez and QB Tom Brady stayed after practice to work on handoffs. Hernandez got one during practice.
- Brady was also working on his mechanics. He’s been slightly off the past two sessions. Looks like he’s just not staying closed long enough.
- WR Wes Welker is unstoppable in the slot in one-on-one matchups. And CB Kyle Arrington wasn’t doing a bad job. Welker’s just that good.
- Moore is the best perimeter corner in drills to this point.
- Rookie S Tavon Wilson had his first rough practice of camp. He had a tough time in coverage, but did run over FB Eric Kettani while blitzing.
- TE Rob Gronkowski is nearly back to his form from last season. His one weak area in camp to this point, blocking, was much better on Friday both in one-on-one drills against linebackers, and in team drills.
- Alex Silvestro (against Niko Koutouvides), Tyler Urban (Aaron Lavarias) and Bobby Carpenter (Hernandez) delivered pancake blocks in TE/LB one-on-ones.
- Edelman and Hernandez each muffed a punt.
- DT Kyle Love is having a very good camp to this point. Scouts like Brandon Deaderick’s talent level more, but it’s not even close as to who’s the better player at this point.
- Shane Vereen had his best running day of camp. Very nice vision and showed not hesitiation.
- After getting run over by Francis in one-on-one, Solder was whipped by Jones and Marcus Harrison during the two-on-two “game” drill, where two linemen work in tandem against two offensive linemen.
- Undrafted OG Jeremiah Warren has been on a steady decline since a strong start. He has talent, but he’s really struggling.
- Gallery tossed Deaderick to the ground.
- Saw Ninkovich line up at DT and Wilfork DE on one rep but Connolly had it figured out with Cannon.
- Brady got a birthday present: his first two-minute drill touchdown of camp to Edelman along the back line.
- It looked like Jerod Mayo, whistle in hand, was running the two-minute drill to end practice following the two fights.
- Patriots were back to the offense line of Solder, Thomas, Wendell, Connolly and Cannon. It’s been their best line by far.
- With Ninkovich back, Scott and Cunningham were dropped down the depth chart at LDE. Francis is the third-string RDE behind Jones, who is in both spots.
Saturday: No practice
Sunday: 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Monday: Practice time TBD
Tuesday: 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. (joint practice with New Orleans Saints)
Wednesday: 10 a.m. with Saints
Thursday: 7:30 p.m. game vs. Saints
Friday: No practice.