By: Derek Havens
The New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field Tuesday for their first joint practice of the week.
The two teams will have three joint practices, Tuesday through Thursday, before they play Friday night.
Going from 90 to 180 players on the field, plus double the coaching staff, made the session exciting and chaotic at the same time. All and all, a lot to digest after the practice. The session started three hours earlier than scheduled because of the threat of thunderstorms.
Tuesday Injury Notes: Mark Harrison, Brandon Spikes, Jason Vega, Jermaine Cunningham, Armond Armstead not spotted at practice.
Danny Amendola continues to look sharp during Patriots training camp. (FILE:USPresswire)
Rob Gronkowski was in shorts and a t-shirt. Marcus Cannon, Michael Jenkins, Tyronne Green, Dan Connolly, Markus Zusevics, Alfonso Dennard and Ras-I Dowling in uniform, but did not participate.
Devin McCourty was wearing red non-contact jersey.
Here are my observations from Tuesday’s practice:
– Going into the practice, I was curious to see what the similarities and differences would be between teams. I thought it was interesting the Buccaneers stretched for a little less time than the Patriots and then spent time immediately working on fundamentals in small groups, mostly tackling and wrapping up. I like the way Greg Schiano worked his troops.
– There was not a lot of work for the second and third stringers by either team Tuesday. The practice was all about getting the starters and sub players game ready. I would expect more reps for the non-starters Wednesday.
– Both the Patriots and Buccaneers were sharp offensively and moved the ball pretty easily versus each other’s defense. The Pats defense played better, but were torched by Vincent Jackson consistently. Brady and the Pats had their way against Tampa Bay, picking on rookie cornerback Johnthan Banks frequently.
When New England’s offense did struggle, the weather seemed to be a factor. Dropped balls, players slipping, the rain gave some of the rookies a hard time. Aaron Dobson had a tough day, but still made some plays.
– The wide receiving core was tremendous Tuesday. Danny Amendola is so precise in his routes, he looks poised to have a huge season. Rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce had a very good practice. As I previous mentioned, the rain did give the receivers a hard time, but the young trio had a strong performance otherwise. Dobson beat Bucs rookie cornerback Banks several times and continued to flash the ability he’s displayed throughout camp.
Patriots rookie Jamie Collins ran with the first-team defense at outside linebacker Tuesday. (FILE:USPresswire)
The play of the day, however, was Brady hitting Thompkins 30 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Thompkins, tightly covered by Tampa Bay cornerback Rashaan Melvin, made a terrific one-handed grab behind Melvin’s back. Needless to say, the crowd erupted. Thompkins has put together an incredible camp as an undrafted rookie.
– Will Svitek continues to play well at right guard, as Connolly is not participating in drills (at least team drills). Svitek looks good in the reps he has received and left tackle Nate Solder looked very strong during practice.
– The Patriots had some very interesting looks defensively Tuesday. Jamie Collins played strong side outside linebacker (SAM) with the first team and Dont’a Hightower was at middle linebacker with Spikes absent. On several occasions, Adrian Wilson was playing linebacker in a sub defense and looked very good in the role.
Devin McCourty was at safety and played right cornerback at times, although safety is clearly his better position. It speaks volumes rookie defensive back Duron Harmom takes McCourty’s place at center field during those reps, he has had a good camp.
Dennard, while in uniform, is not getting the reps he normally received. I spoke to him after practice and he said he, “feels pretty good”, but added he, “needs to get healthy first” before returning to his normal workload. I believe his hamstring is the issue.
– Tavon Wilson has had a tough camp and seems to have been passed on the depth chart by Harmon, but T. Wilson made a good play during 7-on-7’s intercepting rookie Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon.
– Leon Washington showed off his impressive return skills once again, displaying incredible vision and speed. The added threat on special teams is one of the more under-the-radar- moves the Pats made this off-season.
Overall, an extremely valuable practice for both teams and one of the more enjoyable sessions for spectators. Camp resumes Wednesday at 2:20. Be sure to check back for another update.
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