Patriots rookie QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, looks to build of his first preseason game this week. (USA TODAY Images)

The New England Patriots hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday afternoon. The two teams had a two and a half hour, full-padded session on the fields outside Gillette Stadium. The competition level was high as they gear up for their Friday night exhibition game.

Here are my observations:

- I can’t remember a practice that had as many fans in attendance as Tuesday. The Patriots announced 25,317 came to watch the joint practice, which shattered the previous single-season record. The crowds came pouring in and brought a ton of energy. The atmosphere was great.

- Patriots defensive captain, Jerod Mayo, was not present at practice Tuesday. It’s the first session he’s missed this season. Defensive back Tavon Wilson and linebacker Ja’Gared Davis were present, but not wearing pads.

Good news on the Patriots injury front. Backup quarterback Ryan Mallett returned to practice Tuesday after missing Sunday and Monday. Receiver Aaron Dobson (foot) and rookie defensive lineman Dominique Easley (knee) — taken off PUP on Monday — were both in full pads for the joint practice, but practiced on a limited basis.

TE D.J. Williams, LB Cameron Gordon, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, OL Bryan Stork, OL Chris Martin, WR Jeremy Gallon, DL Chris Jones and DT Sealver Siliga were not spotted.

 - Tom Brady looked really sharp Tuesday. He was throwing lasers at every level of the defense, winning nearly every matchup. Best throw of the day was deep down the left sideline to Kenbrell Thompkins. Despite two Eagles defenders in the area, the throw was perfect and Thompkins made a great play.

As good as Brady was — and usually is — Eagles QB Nick Foles was on par with no. 12 Tuesday. Foles carved up the Pats defense without much resistance, which was disappointing. At one point he connected with wideout Jeremy Maclin for a deep touchdown over Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty.

- Some of my favorite moments at training camp are when receivers go one-on-one with cornerbacks. The Patriots and Eagles had some great battles throughout the first session. Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman put on a clinic. They stood out and had their way with whoever lined up across from them.

- I continue to wonder what will happen at the safety position next to Devin McCourty. We have seen several players get work with the perceived first-team defense: Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Logan Ryan and even Kyle Arrington.

You would think the sooner the starters could play alongside eachother the better it would be in terms of communication and continuity, but it appears the coaches have not made a decision. I’ll be focusing on this battle moving forward in preseason.

-  After practice the Patriots completed the “Ice Bucket Challenge”, raining awareness for ALS. With owner Robert Kraft and Belichick in the center of a group huddle, the team lifted up their buckets and dumped the icy water all over themselves.

Not sure how he got the honors, but rookie Zach Moore dumped the bucket on Belichick. The Pats then challenged the other AFC East teams to do the same. Great moment.

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