The Patriots conducted Day 2 of Minicamp on Wednesday, under sunny skies in Foxboro as the players are getting back into the football routine albeit with no pads on yet.
Like Day 1 there were a lot of players missing and the numbers grew. Absences included, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Julian Edelman, WR Danny Amendola, RB Dion Lewis, RB LeGarrette Blount, CB Logan Ryan, S Duron Harmon, OL Nate Solder, OL Sebastian Vollmer, OL Shaq Mason, OL Tre’ Jackson, OL Josh Kline, S Nate Ebner (Olympic tryout), who all missed Day 1. Day 2 absences also included RB Brandon Bolden, WR Malcolm Mitchell, TE Clay Harbor, and LB C.J. Johnson.
There was a flurry of activity all over the field as the coaches attempted to keep the pace up high throughout the practice. Here are some of our observations from the Wednesday practice.
Bennett, Hogan quickly working on the Brady trust factor:
TE Martellus Bennett and WR Chris Hogan seem to be rapidly gaining the all-important trust factor with QB Tom Brady. Bennett’s value was shown when he tweaked something early in practice and went down. Brady rushed over and spoke to Bennett, who was able to walk it off and continue.
Bennett again worked 1-on-1 with Brady on a side session and the QB was going over hot reads and even demonstrated exactly where he wanted Bennett on a skinny post route. Brady could be heard then on the next rep, telling the huge TE that he was in exactly the right spot. Not coincidentally, on the next 11-on-11 series, Brady went right to that exact play, but the pass was knocked away on an alert play by Pat Chung.
With no Edelman and Amendola, Hogan and Keshawn Martin are fulfilling their respective roles in the offense. Hogan, in particular, seems to be picking up the offense very quickly (a good sign) and was arguably the best receiver on the field. Hogan also worked with Brady on a side session later in practice.
Martin looked very sharp in the session and was finding the open spots in the coverage. Brady went to him on a deep post that was perfectly thrown. But at the last moment, Malcolm Butler was able to jump up and knock the ball away.
Aaron Dobson had another good day, making some nice contested catches. The big question for him will be, can he stay on the field and be consistent. Although he had a misread on one route and Jimmy Garoppolo’s pass was picked off by Jonathan Jones.
Brady was sharp…in fact all three QBs looked sharp for the most part. Jimmy G looks much more comfortable in the offense from this point a year ago. He displayed some nice touch on the ball and he too seems to have already found a comfort level with Hogan.
Jacoby Brissett made a really nice deep sideline comeback pass to Martin about 15-17 yards downfield. He put some nice zip on the ball and as soon as Martin broke back the ball was in his hands. Darryl Roberts had tight coverage on the play.
Michael Williams was injured during the session and was carted off, not to return. The scary part was as he was down, the trainers immediately began testing his ACL joint. Hopefully, it wasn’t a serious injury.
Rookies Cyrus Jones and RB D.J. Foster were working on returning punts during the STs portion of practice. Both look quick on the initial glance, this will bear watching once the pads come on. Donald Brown was targeted quite a bit out of the backfield during the session from both Brady and Garoppolo.
Grugier-Hill, King Working Side-by-Side:
Last year at this time, we found it intriguing that S Brandon King, a longshot to make the roster was getting a lot of one-on-one instruction from STs coach Joe Judge and we commented that it was a sure way to make the roster. Well fast forward a year and both King and rookie LB Kamu Grugier-Hill were getting the same instruction.
Both were working on the side doing punt blocking drills against backup long-snapper Christian Yount. Grugier-Hill is an uber-athletic, undersized linebacker who will have to, initially, at least make the roster as a STs player….That was a good sign for the young man.
We saw a little bit of fireworks at the end of the session when Bryan Stork who was wearing some kind of throwback 1980s short-shorts got into a scuffle with DT Woodrow Hamilton and both were tossed off the field. Hamilton along with Vincent Valentine already have the names to be featured in an upcoming Quinton Tarrentino film.
The Patriots get back to work on Thursday for the final minicamp session of the week.
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