FOXBOROUGH – It was another day of full pads for the Patriots, and injuries continue to be a factor. Unlike several other NFL teams, they do not have a player who has suffered a season-ending injury, but even coach Bill Belichick acknowledged the issue, at the start of his Friday news press conference, saying, “We have a lot of guys in the day-to-day category.”
Running back Brandon Bolden was in uniform but did not participate in team drills, instead doing rehab work on a different field; defensive lineman Jermaine Cunningham and cornerback Ras-I Dowling were both absent for the first time, and offensive lineman Marcus Cannon was absent for the second straight day.
Players had to be shuffled in several areas, including at cornerback, where Devin McCourty worked almost exclusively, lining up at right corner opposite Aqib Talib.
It also was not a crisp day for the offense – even in warm-ups – with Tom Brady and Tim Tebow throwing to receivers running the route tree with no defense, there were three straight drops.
Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).
Red jersey: S Devin McCourty.
Missing: OL Marcus Cannon, who first also missed practice on Thursday; CB Ras-I Dowling, who appeared to suffer an injury in the early part of Thursday’s session; DL Jermaine Cunningham, who missed his first practice; and OL Kevin Haslam, who also missed his first practice.
New injuries: WR Michael Jenkins appeared to injure his left hamstring midway through practice; he remained on the sideline but was done taking part for the day.
Returning from injury: None.
• In a one-on-one drill, Ryan Mallett threw a pretty pass for Matthew Slater to the deep right corner of the end zone with McCourty in coverage. Slater made the reception, but it was a close call as to whether he got both feet in; judging by the crowd reaction, he did.
• In seven on seven, a Tom Brady attempt for rookie Josh Boyce was intercepted by Talib. Talib tipped the ball to himself and hung on, taking off for the opposite sideline. After the play, it appeared Talib may have been injured, as he was walking gingerly, but he indicated to a team staff member that when he spiked the ball it bounced up and hit him in the inner thigh. Talib returned to the field a play later.
OL Tyronne Green: With Dan Connolly (shoulder) still limited and Cannon absent, Green has been running with the top offensive line.
McCourty: Shows his versatility yet again, lining up at corner after spending the entire offseason and first days of training camp at safety.
DL Michael Buchanan: The rookie looked good in one on ones, using his speed against newly acquired Brice Schwab.
Dowling and Cunningham: As Ellis Hobbs loved to say, you can’t make the club from the tub. These players are squarely on the bubble, and can’t help their cause if they’re not on the field.
Brady: He wasn’t terrible, but given the level we’re used to seeing, from Brady it was an off day for him, capped by the Talib interception.
Tebow took just five sna
ps in 11-on-11 work, with just one pass attempt – a completion to Michael Hoomanawanui. Otherwise, he carried it three times and handed off once to Leon Washington. There also was a bad snap that went over his head. Tebow retrieved it and scrambled for a couple of yards.
He chatted with reporters after practice, and talked about working with offensive assistant Brian Daboll. At times, Tebow and some reserves have gone to the second field for seven-on-seven work and it is Daboll who is tutoring Tebow.
After meeting with media, Tebow spent more time signing autographs, to the delight of the few remaining fans.
ODDS AND ENDS
• Punters Zoltan Mesko and Ryan Allen split duties, with each getting two or three reps during each special-teams period. The Patriots have long since cut kicker David Ruffer and on Thursday released long snapper Mike Zupancic, leaving Mesko as the only specialist still in a competition.
• Julian Edelman, Leon Washington, Danny Amendola, and Kenbrell Thompkins all took turns fielding punts.
• Interesting seeing Chandler Jones in a one-on-one against Logan Mankins, working on inside rushing moves. Jones punched Mankins in the chest, but Mankins recovered and Jones lost his balance, having to put his hands on the ground to steady himself.
• At one point during 11-on-11 work, Belichick stopped the offense to talk with them in the huddle, not something we see too often, and an indication that it wasn’t the group’s best day.
• During red-zone work, Brady had a quick completion to Amendola, who got a nice shove from Jerod Mayo as he was trying to run after the catch and was knocked off his feet.
Saturday: Practice 9-11:30 a.m. (open to public).
Sunday: No practice (day off).
Monday: Practice 10-11:45 a.m. (open to public).
Tuesday: Practice with Eagles in Philadelphia, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (closed to public).
Wednesday: Practice with Eagles in Philadelphia, 12:30-2:30 p.m. (closed to public).
Friday: Preseason Game 1 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.