By: Derek Havens
The New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the field Wednesday for their second joint practice of the week.
While the session was productive, the health of Tom Brady consumed the afternoon. Bucs defensive end Adrian Clayborn bull-rushed left tackle Nate Solder, who then tripped into Brady. The franchise signal-caller laid on the ground, grabbing his left knee — same knee he tore his ACL and MCL in 2008 — for about 30 seconds and then gingerly walked to the sideline. Almost immediately after, he returned to take five snaps. He then walked inside the practice bubble with a team trainer and did not return.
From my perspective, which was about 30 yards behind him and slightly to the left, the injury did not seem serious. Obviously, the team is going to take every precaution with a player like Brady, but fans will be on edge until more information is available.
Several reports, including ESPN and NESN, say Brady has a knee sprain and his MRI was negative. He is now considered “day-to-day.”
Patriots took Tom Brady off practice field more for precautionary reasons than anything. Looks as if Patriots Nation can exhale.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 14, 2013
Tuesday Injury Notes: Mark Harrison, Daniel Fells Jermaine Cunningham, Armond Armstead not spotted at practice.
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 Wednesday’s practice:
– I mentioned this yesterday, but I loved watching how the Buccaneers orchestrated their team drills. It was interesting to see what specifics different coaches focus on. For Greg Schiano, tackling and wrapping up stood out. For Belichick, situational football. To each his own.
– Wednesday’s session was absolutely gorgeous and Patriots fans were out in full force. It has been incredible to see how many people come to watch and cheer on their favorite team. The energy and atmosphere was great throughout camp.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did not finish practice after injuring left knee Wednesday. (FILE:USPresswire)
– Tampa Bay will practice with the Pats Thursday, but mostly doing walk-throughs. The two padded sessions, Tuesday and Wednesday, should prove to be extremely valuable for the players. Going against new faces, increased competition level and scrimmaging will help young players develop quicker.
I asked defensive back Marquice Cole Wednesday who he enjoyed practice against more, the Buccaneers or Eagles. He said, “hard to tell. They were both really competitive. It was exciting, man.”
– Quick thought: Between the Pats working with two teams this pre-season and after watching the joint practice sessions, I would not be surprised to see more of these in the future. Especially with a reduction of pre-season games likely coming in the next few years.
– Tim Tebow had a solid practice, with better than usual accuracy on his intermediate throws. His reaction time and slow decision making are still evident, but my belief is he will make the 53-man roster. The Patriots want to develop him in their system.
Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune tweeted, “The most effective QB wearing 5 out here today has been Tebow by a mile. Not a good day for Freeman.”
– Undrafted free agents have carved out a role on the Patriots roster over the past few seasons. This year, Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld are two strong candidates to do the same. Thompkins, continues to make plays every chance he gets. His ability to create separation running routes or make a catch against physical coverage have stood out.
Sudfeld has been spending more time with the first-team offense and shown he is a reliable threat. His combination of size — 6’7, 255 — and athleticism jumps out when you watch him. The real test for him will be if he can stay healthy throughout the season, which he had a problem doing in college.
– Tommy Kelly and Vince Wilfork is a very, very big combination for a defensive line. Kelly has shown the ability to make plays and push the pocket, which the Pats have lacked since the departure of Richard Seymour. Both lineman should prove to be a solid one-two combo during the season and hopefully eat up blockers for second-year defensive end Chandler Jones to make plays on the edge.
– With Dowling and Dennard both not participating in practice, the cornerback position is thin. Cole received more reps with the first-team defense in the slot. A lot of personnel being thrown out onto the field, different combinations and several packages being used. One of the strengths going into this season I thought would be the continuity of the defensive backs. Hopefully the group can get healthy and get back on the field.
– There were several scuffles in Wednesday’s session, but no one was tossed and they were diffused rather quickly. Certainly examples of the raised competitive spirit brought about by these joint sessions, as well as players fighting for their jobs. Besides those minor incidents, I thought both teams worked very well together.
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