The New England Patriots took the field Saturday morning in shorts and shells for their eighth training camp practice.

Tom Brady turned 36-years-old Saturday and fans came out to help the future hall of famer celebrate. At one point, a large group of fans yelled, “Happy Birthday, Brady!”

The coaching staff switched things up a little as the team was separated into blue and white groups for light scrimmages. The team was essentially doing 11-on-11 drills the entire time.

Here are my observations from Saturday’s practice:


Stevan Ridley has shown an improved ability to catch the football out of the backfield in practice. (FILE:USPresswire)

- Injury notes:

Absent: Marcus Cannon, Ras-I Dowling, Jermaine Cunningham, Jake Ballard, Armond Armstead, Kevin Haslem, Nate Ebner, Lavasier Tuinei, and Tavon Wilson

Present, but not participating: Michael Jenkins, Mark Harrison, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Bolden, Dan Connolly and Elvis Fisher

Good news, Julian Edelman was active in Saturday’s session after limping around a bit Friday.

Devin McCourty was not wearing a red non-contact jersey today. He had been wearing it to this point through camp.

- A light-hearted moment on Saturday when Patriots linebackers coach Pepper Johnson is wearing a T-Shirt that says “Happy 40th Birthday Tom!” Pretty funny, it seems the entire team had the shirts made.

- Brady did not receive his normal amount of reps and spent most of practice talking on the sidelines. A birthday gift from Bill Belichick, perhaps? I would think so.

- Tim Tebow had a rough practice. Both him and Ryan Mallett got a lot of work Saturday, but Tebow struggled from the get go. It’s amazing how long he holds onto the football at times; I’m talking about 10-12 seconds, which is ridiculous. It’s not all bad, but when it’s bad, it’s really bad.

I talked to Tebow after practice and my biggest takeaway was how he genuinely cares about his fans. He spent a lot of time signing autographs and taking pictures, fans loved it.

- On the other hand, Mallett looked pretty good. The third-year quarterback has gotten better each day of camp, which is encouraging. He still needs some adjustment to his throwing motion, more velocity on his passes and improving his accuracy.

- Stevan Ridley has done a great job catching the football out of the backfield in training camp. His hands are a noticeable improvement this year. Always great to see continuous development from younger players.

- The Patriots have 90 men on their roster right now. Last year at this time, the average age at the wide receiver position was a shade over 30. This year, the average age is 24. Amazing how New England turned over the roster at the position in just a few months. Good news for them, however, as the rookies continue to have a good camp.

- I have said it before and I’ll say it again, Kenbrell Thompkins is making the team. The undrafted rookie receiver has looked impressive in almost every practice and I would say barring injury, he is a lock at this point. Even better, Brady seems to trust him and looks his way, which is not always the case with new targets.

- Undrafted rookie tight end Zach Sudfeld received a lot of reps and continues to impress. He displayed great hands Saturday and showed his athleticism on several occasions. I am starting to believe he makes the team.


Alfonso Dennard’s pending legal situation may have something to do with his limited time on the field during training camp. (FILE:USPresswire)

- Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins stood out again today as he intercepted a deflected Tebow pass. His ability to change direction is amazing given his size, but you could definitely tell that he was a defensive back at one point. Two years ago at Southern Mississippi he was playing safety, now he looks like he will be rotating at outside linebacker for the Patriots. From what I’ve seen, he looks like he could be a playmaker for this defense.

- Alfonso Dennard watched from the sidelines quite a bit for the third straight day as cornerbacks rotated his place. Unlike Friday’s practice, McCourty stayed at safety, but rookie Logan Ryan spent a lot of time on the field. Ryan held his own for the majority of the snap, but I have yet to see the aggressive play he was known for in college. As for Dennard, it’s still unclear whether he is dealing with an injury or if the team is worried about is pending legal situation.

- Have you ever seen a 350 (plus) pound man attempt a field goal? Neither had I until Saturday morning. Vince Wilfork attempted a short kick, which was low and wide left. Needless to say, the defensive captain won’t be replacing Stephen Gostkowski if an injury were to occur.

The team has Sunday off, but will return to the practice field on Monday before their trip to Philadelphia.

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