The first public media session for the Patriots OTAs is in the books and there were certainly some things we learned after Thursday’s session. We’ll close out the week with a quick rundown of some things we learned from the practice.
– Taking Attendence – Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal took attendance for Thursday, highlighting the players who missed out on the session.
According to Daniels, the top players who were notably absent included Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan, LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, Alan Branch, Danny Amendola, Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner, Joe Cardona, Tre’ Jackson, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason and Frank Kearse.
Gronk’s absence on the offensive side was curious, while the absence of Butler, Harmon and Ryan also seemed a little strange. While this is obviously the time of year where it’s good for everyone to get on the same page, if nothing else, those absences allotted more reps to the newer players who were present and that will certainly be a benefit in the coming months in getting the new guys up to speed.
– Belichick Set the Tone Early – As we know it’s all about the details, and it sounds like there was some emphasis on those on Thursday after players felt Bill Belichick’s wrath just minutes into the early portion of practice.
According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, players broke away a little early before they were done warming up and headed off to various stations, which drew the ire of Belichick, who immediately stepped in and got the players back to where they supposed to be and they finished the beginning of practice to his standards, which helped set the tone for the day.
Rookie Jacoby Brissett looked good throwing the football Thursday. (USA TODAY Images)
– Jacoby Brissett Held His own – Reiss also reported that Tom Brady was his usual self at practice on Thursday, while teammate Jimmy Garoppolo was impressive while showing off his “lightening-quick” release. With Brady’s status for 2016 still up in the air, it sounds like the reps were relatively split between the three quarterbacks, which included rookie Jacoby Brissett. Reiss reports that Brissett “held his own from a pure throwing perspective” and called him “the best initial No. 3 the team has had in Bill Belichick’s 17-year tenure.”
Bold words describing the rookie. Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald logged Brissett as completing 9 of 16 overall, including 7 of 12 with an interception (by fellow rookie CB Cyrus Jones) in 11-on-11s. He logged Brady as completing 12-of-18 in team drills, as well as 7-of-9 in 11-on-11s, while Garoppolo hit 21-of-26 in team drills, along with 8-of-9 in 11-on-11s.
Garoppolo reportedly looked good on Thursday. (USA TODAY Images)
Glowing Reviews For Garoppolo – Howe had some glowing words about Garoppolo, who he believes has been on a “consistent incline through his three seasons in New England, and Thursday’s workout provided a snapshot of evidence that it has continued.”
During the last preseason Garoppolo put together one of the best performances we’ve seen from a back-up quarterback during the Bill Belichick era in terms of pure accuracy. Looking closer at the numbers, since 2000, no other back-up quarterback for the Patriots with 10 or more attempts in the preseason finished with a completion percentage better than Garoppolo’s outings last August.
The quarterback finished 61-of-80 (76.3%) in 2015, ahead of Tom Brady (45.5%) as well as Ryan Lindley, who went 22-of-45 (48.9%). Since 2000, the highest completion percentages during the preseason by a quarterback with 10 or more attempts is held by Brady over that span ([25-of-31] 80.6% in 2014), followed by Brady again in 2013 ([34-of-44] 77.3%), Brady again in 2010 ([37-of-50] 74%) and Damon Huard in 2002 ([36-of-50] 72%).
That gives Garoppolo the 2nd highest total as a back-up since Brady has been a starter. Obviously the preseason is hard to judge considering back-ups are going against other back-ups. But then again, it’s a relatively fair point considering we’re talking about how other back-ups have compared to Garoppolo. The reviews have been good on him since he was drafted and he’s looked good in what little we’ve seen of him, so it seems like the Patriots have a player who appears to be a little more NFL ready standing by should he be called upon.
Obviously the idea that he could be “the guy” to start the year was likely in his head and so far it sounds like whatever hard work he put in could starting to be paying off.
Belichick took command on Thursday and impressed newcomer Terrance Knighton.
Knighton Impressed with Belichick – New Patriot Terrance Knighton got some work in on Thursday and he came away a little more impressed with how hands-on Belichick is with the players.
“Not only is he a head coach, he’s more of a teacher. He’s at every station, talking to guys about position-specific drills, and he’s talking football with you,” he said via ESPN.
“Talking to him prior to being here, he always said, ‘I can’t wait to coach you.’ Sometimes head coaches are more overseers, but he’s actually hands-on and in there coaching, and definitely a student of the game.”
Bennett Catches The Defense’s Eye – People have been looking forward to seeing the duo of Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski out on the field, but Gronkowski was absent for the voluntary session on Thursday, drawing a little more attention to Bennett.
According to most reports, Bennett was as advertised, making some impressive catches in the end zone during red zone drills, including a spectacular catch on an underthrown ball by Garoppolo.
“He brings a lot of similar challenges that 87 (Gronk) gives us. He’s a big guy, he’s quick, and he’s tough, we saw that when we played him two years ago with Chicago,” safety Devin McCourty said of Bennett via the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian. “Marty has given us challenges each day we’ve been out here running routes especially in the red area which we did today. He’s a big guy and Brady knows exactly where to put it. So with his size and speed and quickness, he’s just a tough cover. And having both of them (Gronk & Bennett) out there is really tough.”
McCourty said on Thursday that competing against those two guys each day should be the toughest part of their week.
“We won’t play against two better tight ends than Gronk and Marty,” said McCourty. “Me and [Patrick] Chung were talking about that on Day One, how much work we’re going to get in practice this year just competing against them. Trying to deal with those two guys every day is going to be tough.”
Long Loving Life in New England – Newly added defensive end Chris Long seems to be fitting in well so far with his new team. He spoke about what it’s been like here so far compared to out in St. Louis, and it sounds like he’s pretty happy with his decision.
“Fun day out here,” said Long via Patriots.com. “I love the way we go about business [in New England]. I love being out here competing. It’s been a competitive couple of days, and I have a lot to worry about to get to the point where I can do my job the way I want to do it here.”
He called the experience “invigorating” and while he’s struggled a bit over the past couple of seasons, he’s enjoying the group of players he’s around and it sounds like he’s ready to go out and have a productive year.
“Any day I can play football is invigorating for me,” said Long. “Just to get out here with this awesome group of guys is invigorating every day for me. It’s not about what happened in the past, it’s about my first week and how I can adapt and help the team do things the way they do things. It’s exciting.”
Hightower Not Worried About His Contract – Until an extension is reached with Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower, expect that to be a topic of discussion among fans and media who are hopeful to see them both in a Patriots uniform for the long-term.
Hightower was asked about that very topic on Thursday, and in his mind, he’s just focused on that task at hand and he doesn’t sound too concerned at this point.
“I ain’t got nothing to do with none of that,” Hightower said via Patriots.com. “There is a time and place for everything and right now, I’m just out here trying to get better.”
As far as Hightower is concerned, he knows that if he continues to work hard and play well, the rest will all work itself out.
“If I get better I feel like that will take care of everything else,” said the veteran. “If I get better every day that’s all I can ask for.”
And after what seemed like a productive outing for everyone, it sounds like they’re off to a great start.
SOCIAL POST OF THE DAY:
VIDEO: At a Glance, Patriots RBs From Mark Daniels – Providence Journal:
Here's a look at some RB drills pic.twitter.com/3budrC9P0D
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) May 26, 2016
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown