By: Derek Havens
Wide receiver Julian Edelman has been terrific throughout training camp. (USA TODAY Images)
The New England Patriots held their fifth practice of training camp on Tuesday. The team got a much-deserved day off Monday, but had their first of four practices this week on Tuesday.
The Patriots were in pads and it was a beautiful day for practice. While the temperature was rising, so was the physicality.
Here are my notes from Tuesday’s practice:
– Wide receiver Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Gallon, defensive lineman Dominique Easley, linebacker Deontae Skinner, Matthew Slater were present, but did not participate. Offensive lineman Dan Connolly, Chris Martin and tight end Michael Hoomanawanui were not spotted.
Cornerback, Alfonzo Dennard, was cleared off the Physically Unable to Perform list and did participate in practice. He rotated between drills and doing some conditioning work on the side. Working his way back into the mix.
Rookie center Bryan Stork appeared to suffer a minor lower-leg injury and walked off the field on his own, but did not finish the session.
– This was the most physical session of camp. Offensive and defensive lineman we’re going at it, there was some live tackling and the defensive backs really got in the faces of wide outs.
– With the NFL focusing more on defensive holding and illegal contact for the upcoming year, the first five yards are going to be even more crucial for defensive backs. I think we will see the Patriots cornerbacks play a lot more press and try to disrupt opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage.
– It was a big day for wide receivers and cornerbacks to go head-to-head. Whether it was one-on-one, and seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 drills. It’s always fun to focus in on the action as the players battle it out. During a one-on-one session with Brady at quarterback, Julian Edelman was dominant and had some beautiful catches. His route running is superior to everyone else on the roster. He beat Revis, had a terrific one-handed catch over Kyle Arrington and won just about every matchup. He has been one of the most impressive players in camp this year.
– I’m not sure what it means, if anything, but we have seen Darrelle Revis lined up solely on the left side throughout camp. At first glance I thought it was about him, but then I thought it could be Brandon Browner. With Browner spending the last few seasons in Seattle playing across from Richard Sherman, perhaps he is only comfortable on the right side. Sherman never moves from the left, so Browner might not be able to be moved around as much. We’ll have to wait-and-see, something to monitor moving forward.
– At one point Tuesday, Tom Brady was working with Rob Gronkowski and Darrelle Revis off to the side. Tight end coach, Brian Daboll, was right in the middle of the action. Revis, intentionally playing loose in coverage, was shadowing Gronkowski as Brady was throwing him passes. It’s the first time I have seen any defender line up against Gronk and while it wasn’t true coverage, it seems like a step in the right direction as they ease no. 87 back in the mix.
Brady and Revis spent some time after talking about what each other are seeing in certain situations. One of the best in the game at both of their respective positions, no doubt learning from the other as the compete everyday in practice. Very cool to watch the two interact.
– It’s cool to see how far James Develin has come. He’s battled for a spot on this team, earned playing time and now it seems like he is a lock to make the roster. He shows versatility and sets the tone in the run game. He threw a block for Stevan Ridley Tuesday that you could hear from 120 yards away.
– Play of the day happened during 11-on-11 drills towards the end of practice. Ryan Mallett threw a lateral pass to his left to Edelman. Once Edelman caught the ball, he faked like he was running and then threw a deep bomb to Danny Amendola down the left side line. It was a great throw and catch, the crowd went crazy. Keep that in mind for late in the season.
Another highlight was during seven-on-seven drills, when Tom Brady threw a very deep pass down the middle of the field to receiver Brandon LaFell. LaFell beat the rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler and a fast-closing Nate Ebner to make a great catch in traffic. Brady was very fired up and you could see him celebrating and screaming with Mallet. Best play LaFell has made so far in camp.
– After practice was over, former Patriots players were on the field talking to each other. Offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi, Dan Koppen, linebacker Matt Chatham and former coach Charlier Weis was also in attendance Tuesday. It was awesome seeing some of the former members of the team back on the field.
Overall, it was long and physical day for New England. The team has a session on Wednesday and Thursday morning, followed up by an in-stadium practice for season ticket holders on Friday. The Patriots head to Richmond, VA this weekend before their joint practices with the Washington Redskins.
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