Patriots practice report
Greg A. Bedard’s rundown of what happened at Monday’s Patriots practice.
Reserve/did not report: RG Brian Waters.
Exempt/left team: FB Tony Fiammetta.
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).
Out: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), LB Tracy White (unknown), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown), FB Spencer Larsen (unknown), OT Matt Kopa (leg), DT Ron Brace (unknown), S James Ihedigbo (unknown), OT Darrion Weems (precautionary), OT Kyle Hix (right shoulder), LB Brandon Spikes (unknown).
Not participating fully: WR Deion Branch (no team drills), S Derrick Martin (no pads per CBA), WR Jeremy Ebert (no pads per CBA), LB Dane Fletcher (no team drills).
Returned to practice: DT Kyle Love, after getting poked in the eye. OG Derek Dennis and C/G Nick McDonald (after CBA waiting period).
■ LB Jerod Mayo blew through a hole and whacked RB Danny Woodhead for a loss, and then did the same to Stevan Ridley on second and goal from the 2.
■ On third and goal from the 1, QB Tom Brady easily found TE Rob Gronkowski for a touchdown against Devin McCourty. Earlier, Brady praised Gronkowski for his nifty catch in the seam against S Nate Ebner.
■ CB Malcolm Williams got the crowd going when he took TE Alex Silvestro to the turf with power during a tackling drill.
CB Ras-I Dowling continues to make progress. Physically, he has been much improved from where he was in the offseason practices, and now he has started making plays on the ball. On Sunday he had an interception, and on Monday he made a terrific break on a pass in the flat from Brady to WR Brandon Lloyd. Dowling jumped it like he knew it was coming — that’s an advantage vets use during camp because they can identify the route combinations — but after practice he said he broke so fast because he was reading Brady. Next progress point for Dowling: performing against the Saints.
The ball was on the ground too many times for the passing offense. And it wasn’t the QBs being off, as it has been previously. There were four dropped passes that were right on the money, including a deep pass from Brady to Lloyd that should have been a touchdown.
Dropped passes: Lloyd, Edelman, Eric Kettani, Hernandez.
Nice catches: Gronkowski, Lloyd.
ODDS AND ENDS
■ The Patriots prefer Dowling as a base cornerback in the red zone as opposed to Kyle Arrington. Not a surprise given Dowling’s height advantage.
■ With Spikes out and Fletcher not at full go, Dont’a Hightower split time between middle and strong-side linebacker. Mike Rivera was in the middle when Hightower went to his usual spot.
■ With four offensive tackles — Vollmer, Hix, Kopa, and Weems — out of practice, McDonald had to slide out to play backup left tackle. He hasn’t played there since his senior season at Grand Valley State in 2009. Don’t expect McDonald to be there long. He’s not a tackle at this level.
■ The practice started with the annual rookie soaking, and included newcomers to the staff such as special teams assistant Joe Judge and coaching assistant Steve Belichick.
■ There was again a lot of prep work through the use of cards, which illustrate a play an opponent uses.
■ Sergio Brown got rare vocal praise from Bill Belichick for his work preparing the offense for an opponent.
■ Mayo and Hightower clamped down on a tight end to break up a pass.
■ It was Ryan Wendell’s turn to be the first-team center, with Dan Koppen on the second team.
■ DE Jake Bequette batted a pass down.
■ S Tavon Wilson continues to play various roles in the dime package. He and Nate Ebner worked as the second-team safeties with Ihedigbo out.
■ DE Chandler Jones looked athletic carrying a running back into the flat.
■ It was a bit of a light and quick practice, as you would expect with a hard-hitting practice with the Saints coming Tuesday.
Tuesday: 1:30 p.m. with Saints
Wednesday: 10 a.m. with Saints
Thursday: 7:30 p.m. game vs. Saints
Friday: No practice.