By: Derek Havens
The New England Patriots got back on the practice field Monday for the first time since their first pre-season game in Philadelphia against the Eagles last Friday.
The Patriots were in shorts and shells and having a lighter day Monday, getting ready for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to come into town. The Pats and Bucs will have joint practices Tuesday through Thursday before squaring off Friday.
Monday Injury Notes: Ras-I Dowling, Alfonso Dennard, Michael Jenkins, Nate Ebner, Dan Connolly, Tyronne Green, Kevin Haslam and Markus Zusevics were spotted in uniform, but limited in action.
Mark Harrison and Rob Gronkowski were in sweats observing from the sideline.
Marcus Cannon, Jason Vega, Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead were not spotted on the field.
Devin McCourty was back on the field in his red non-contact jersey and James Develin was a full participant.
Patriots rookie receiver Aaron Dobson has had a strong camp, but he may not be the best rookie wide out on the team. (FILE:USPresswire)
Here are my observations from Monday’s practice:
– Aaron Dobson started camp very strong and while he has cooled off a bit, he still has been solid. That being said, Kenbrell Thompkins has been the best rookie wide receiver on the field the past few sessions. On Monday, Thompkins made a few excellent grabs and Tom Brady was looking his way quite often. His development has been incredible to watch throughout training camp.
– Josh Boyce has been a little disappointing to this point. Maybe because my expectations were high, but I have not seen him make the splash plays I thought he would. Coming out of Texas Christian University, the knock against him was inconstant hands and “concentration drops”. So far he has had a few drops in camp, including Monday. It’s not all bad, he has looked strong running routes and making cutes, just needs to continue developing.
– LeGarrette Blount is just one of those players that doesn’t look good in practice, which is funny because of his strong performance Friday in Philadelphia. He had some bad drops Monday, has looked slow in training camp and just not impressive. I am very curious to see how he performs Friday against the Buccaneers.
On the other hand, Blount’s presumed competition Brandon Bolden, had a terrible day of practice Monday with several drops and lined up in the wrong spot during 11-on-11’s. He needs to make some more plays and stand out if he wants to make the team.
– Duron Harmon got some reps at free safety, playing center field when Devin McCourty moved to right cornerback. While I believe it would be a mistake if the team moved McCourty back to cornerback at any point during the season, it is most likely just because Dennard and Dowling have been banged up. McCourty’s versatility and awareness receive high praise from the coaching staff.
– Tavon Wilson is falling down the depth chart it appears and has had a poor camp to this point. As I previously mentioned, Harmon took some reps with the “first team” defense and has looked good in coverage. Adrian Wilson has taken over Tavon Wilson’s role from last season playing as a hybrid linebacker and in the “money” position when the defense uses personnel packages with extra defensive backs. Adrian Wilson had a very good practice Monday, but I am still waiting for him to make more of an impact with his physical nature; something that is hard to do in a practice setting.
– Throughout training camp and against the Eagles last Friday I believe Marcus Benard has been quietly putting together a strong campaign to not only make the team, but contribute regularly. I have seen him standing up on the edge, play as a defensive end in the 4-3 and on Monday, he was a five technique defensive end in a 3-4. His relentless pursuit to the quarterback seems to have grabbed the coaching staff’s attention.
Overall, Monday’s practice was a little more laid back and I expect the next two sessions — Tuesday and Wednesday from 2:20-4:30 — against the Buccaneers to be at a higher tempo. Be sure to check back after each day for my practice report and if you have a Twitter account, be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!