The New England Patriots opened up training camp to the public for the second day on Saturday and fans pilled in to watch the team practice.
Unlike Friday’s practice session, which was unseasonably cold and rainy, the sun was shinning brightly Saturday. Day two of practice was beautiful and a great atmosphere yet again in no small part due to all of the fans.
The players and coaches were in a light-hearted mood, but also got down to business working on fundamentals.
Here are my observations from Saturday:
– Missing from Saturday’s practice was Julian Edelman, Armond Armstead and Cory Grissom. Rob Gronkowski, Nick McDonald and Mark Harrison were in sweats.
– For the second straight day, Tom Brady was sharp. Overall, it looks like he is building a nice chemistry with several receivers — definitely a good sign.
– Ryan Mallett is, well, Ryan Mallett. He makes a few throws that impress you, but cannot do it on a consistent level and struggles making decisions. Despite having an incredibly strong arm, his velocity is weak, which causes the balls he throws to hang in the air for too long. His lack of development has been disappointing.
– Tim Tebow was actually worse than yesterday. I do not want to pile on the guy, he gets enough criticism, but he struggled greatly on Saturday. He hesitates too much, seems to lack confidence in his throws, tries to extend plays, but forgets this is a timing based offense and all of those factors contradict what you want in a quarterback.
While I know the Patriots like him and want him to develop, I have yet to see even a single throw that makes me feel confident he should make the team as a signal caller.
On the other hand, Tebow caught a pass from Tom Brady again Saturday, then proceeded to juke linebacker Rob Ninkovich. It’s fun to watch how the coaching staff utilizes him.
– With very little contact in a no pads practice, running backs are hard to evaluate, but Stevan Ridley looked good through drills. Shane Vereen caught a ton of passes and made some nice cuts. Ridley appears to have improved catching ability and Vereen’s vision flashes playmaking ability. I believe the two tailbacks could have a very strong season.
– Going into camp, I said LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden would be battling for a roster spot. On Friday Blount seemed to get more opportunities, but I thought Brandon Bolden had more flash when given a chance. On Saturday, Bolden continued to look better — albeit in almost no contact — but Blount has also struggled to catch the football. Something to monitor moving forward.
– Yesterday Kenbrell Thompkins did not participate in practice and second year wide out Kamar Aiken had a strong performance. Saturday, Aiken played well, but Thompkins was involved early and often. The undrafted free agent receiver, Thompkins, got a ton of reps with Brady and the “first string” offense and showcased some ability. A few different times, Brady threw to Thompkins off to the side of the field. He has a lot more to prove, but there is a chance he is a dark horse to make the roster.
– Rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson was the best player on the field offensively Saturday. The Marshall product did have some hiccups, but made some spectacular catches and seems to be building a good chemistry with Brady. I like the attitude and physicality he brings to the field. With the Patriots struggle to develop young receivers the past decade; it’s a great sign — even in July.
– Jake Ballard said he is keeping his weight around 260 pounds, almost 20 pounds lighter than when he was with the New York Giants, so he can move easier and it puts less pressure on his knees. Ballard still seems to be hobbled with a lower leg issue, but he did make a few catches in practice.
– Chandler Jones is an impressive player. He picked off Tebow Friday and before Saturday’s practice he was catching long passes with one hand. Even after bulking up 10 pounds in the off-season, his athleticism is still incredible for a guy that size. I will be curious to watch him rush the passer in pads Sunday.
– Alfonso Dennard was exceptional Saturday. Not only was the second-year cornerback all over the field, he was also deflecting passes and had an interception. Across from fellow cornerback, Aqib Talib, they bring an attitude and confidence that the Pats secondary hasn’t had since Asante Samuel.
Overall, the practice was very similar to Friday’s drill wise: seven-on-seven, positional drills, ball security, eleven-on-eleven, etc. Sunday’s practice should be interesting as the team goes into pads for the first time this July.
Be sure to check out Friday’s notes to get caught up if you haven’t and tomorrow more observations will be posted. Stay tuned!
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