By: Derek Havens
So far James White has looked solid, which could put pressure on Brandon Bolden (pictured).
The New England Patriots held their second padded practice of training camp on Sunday. The sound of crashing pads and the more physical element of practice emphasized football is just around the corner.
The first two days of practice were spent focusing on how players look, moved and the reps each were getting at their respective positions. Adding pads to the practice made the two-hour session a lot more interesting and made it easier to evaluate not only the lineman, but defensive players and running backs too.
Here are my notes from Sunday’s practice:
– Wide receiver Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Gallon, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, defensive lineman Dominique Easley and linebacker Deontae Skinner did not participate. Offensive lineman Chris Martin and special teamer Matthew Slater were not spotted.
– The skies were threatening all morning, but the rain held off until about five minutes left to go in Sunday’s session. Practice was cut short, but still more intense than what we saw the previous three days. There was a big emphasis on the run game and the Pats were very physical.
– The play of the day happened about an hour into Sunday’s practice. Rookie tailback, James White, was running off tackle to the left side. Cornerback Brandon Browner delivered a huge shot, taking the running back off his feet and onto his back. Browner screamed towards the sky and the other defensive players went crazy. The defense played with a lot of attitude in team drills.
– Tom Brady had a very light workload Sunday. He participated throughout the day, but left the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills mostly to Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo. Mallett threw the ball great and looked sharp. He hit second-year receiver, Josh Boyce, on a bomb down the left side leaving the coverage far behind.
Garoppolo took a penalty lap after fumbling a snap for the third straight day. The rookie has struggled with decision-making and accuracy the first few days, but there’s no need to panic. He spent some time working with offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, one-on-one.
– As aforementioned, Sunday was spent with an emphasis in the run game. It gave the offensive and defensive lineman an opportunity to get more contact. During these padded sessions, it’s much easier to evaluate the running backs as well. I’ve been really impressed with rookie, James White. He’s had nice catches, broken some big runs and bursts through the hole. He received some praise from Bill Belichick after a nice run Sunday.
Another name to keep in mind is undrafted running back, Roy Finch. The UDFA has received a fair amount of opportunities and flashed a few times. He has a very small frame — listed at 5’7, 180 — but his speed and elusiveness make him fun to watch. Whether it’s the return game or catching a pass out of the backfield, he’s caught my eye a few times.
– The return game was also in focus for the Patriots. Boyce, Finch, Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman have been a few guys in the mix. The team worked on kick coverage as well, even putting Revis and Browner in for some reps on special teams.
– Funny moment towards the end of practice: Despite not participating, Dennard and Dobson were throwing the football back-and-forth at the end of the day. Dobson dropped an easy pass, which prompted a fan to yell “Way to go, Dobson!” in a sarcastic tone. Dobson stared at the heckler, then Dennard threw him another pass and the rookie wideout caught the ball with one hand. The same fan said, “There ya go!” The surrounding crowd laughed and Dobson enjoyed it as well.
Here’s a photo taken by our friend Fred Skott (@fskott):
— Fred Skott (@fskott) July 27, 2014
Overall, the practice was more intense than the previous three days. Certainly more physical and now the team gets a much deserved day off on Monday.
Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!