Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories.
Patriots suffer an injury to a player on day two – As nice as it is to have most everyone out there working during mandatory minicamp sessions, it can sometimes come at a cost.
According to media reports, seventeen players were absent from Wednesday’s workout, which included Rob Gronkowski, Danny Amendola, Brandon Bolden, Malcolm Mitchell, C.J. Johnson, Clay Harbor, Julian Edelman, Logan Ryan, LeGarrette Blount, Sebastian Vollmer, Duron Harmon, Dion Lewis, Nate Ebner, Tre’ Jackson, Josh Kline, Shaq Mason and Nate Solder.
Gronkowski’s absence on Tuesday came into light a little more following a report by the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe that said Gronkowski was kept out as a precaution to prevent any undue injury or added wear and tear on the veteran tight end. Given how visible he’s been over the offseason and the fact he had shown no sign of injury, when he didn’t take the field, it lead to some speculation after the comments he made back in March about his contract on Twitter. After the report, the move to hold him out is certainly a wise one. When you look at teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, it seems especially smart after the Jaguars saw each of their first round draft picks over the past two seasons suffer significant injuries during practices held long before the start of training camp.
Which brings us to what happened on Wednesday when veteran tight end Michael Williams suffered an apparent injury. Williams went down to the turf on a play away from the football, which is never a good sign. Williams was spotted down on the turf clutching his left knee during a 7-on-7 drill, leading trainers to immediately rush to help him before he eventually left the field under his own power. He later went to the locker room.
Hogan Shining So Far – Newcomer Chris Hogan has looked impressive through two practices, getting additional reps with both Edelman and Amendola sidelined with injuries. He’s reportedly been catching everything thrown his way, showing terrific quickness and explosion through his routes.
Obviously as a newcomer in this offense there’s a lot to take in, and Hogan sounds like it’s been a smooth transition thus far.
“It’s going well so far,” Hogan said via the Boston Herald. “I’m excited to be here. It’s always exciting to come to a new team and just being able to be a part of the process and learning and getting to know everybody, getting to know the offense and getting to know how we do things around here.”
What is done here is players on offense need to be ready to react to different situations as this is a group that adapts week-to-week based on different opponents, and it can vary from being methodical and deliberate to being fast-paced, depending on what Tom Brady sees at any given moment during the game. That’s what makes it so different from other teams, and also why the Patriots are generally one of the teams in the mix in the postseason.
Hogan knows that, and he knows how simple, yet very important, the expectations are for him.
“Know your job,” he said. “Know your job, know where to line up, and be able to play fast.”
Other newcomers have had that problem in the past. Fortunately for New England, Hogan seems to already know what he’s doing, which is certainly good news as they wait for Edelman and Amendola to recover by the time 2016 begins.
Butler wasn’t happy about the speculation when he was absent last week.
Butler Not Happy About the Speculation – With Malcolm Butler uncharacteristically missing from voluntary sessions recently, there were reports out there indicating that he’s not thrilled with the salary he’s set to make this season.
His play last season saw him at a level where he was essentially a shut-down corner for the Patriots, taking out key weapons week-to-week in 2015. His $600,000 salary for this season certainly has him underpaid based on his performance and one would believe a raise is likely in his future, although probably not until after New England gets a couple of other players extended, including Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Jabaal Sheard.
Obviously the Patriots would probably like to get a deal done early because any time a player is kept away from free agency a couple of years sooner, it tends to be for less money than they would have gotten on the open market.
But regardless, that situation will certainly work out just fine if Butler plays well. Butler was at practice last week and he’s been here so far, and he claims that his absence last week had nothing to do with money at all. Butler attributed his absence to a family issue, although he wouldn’t elaborate.
However, he did say that hearing the whispers bothered him.
“Of course that’s going to bother you,” Butler told the Herald. “You can only control what you can control. Everyone knows why I wasn’t here. It is what it is.”
He called the whole thing a “big misunderstanding”, and that his only goal is to get ready for 2016 and “to help the team win.” He’s certainly done a solid job so far since making the play that changed his life, and another terrific year will only help his cause even further.
If he does that, the rest will take care of itself.
Tempers Flared into a Fight Between Two Patriots – When you mix an undrafted player battling a veteran for a job, it seems like it’s sometimes a recipe for a skirmish and that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday.
According to reports, rookie Woodrow Hamilton and Bryan Stork both got into it toward the end of practice, with the two getting into an altercation. The two went to the ground, with Stork throwing a number of wild punches at Hamilton while they were locked up before it was finally broken up by other players.
That’s a no-no here in New England, with both players being ejected and sent to the locker room, but it certainly provided some excitement for the afternoon.
Dobson, Martin Impress – Aaron Dobson and Kehsawn Martin were the two notable players who performed well on Wednesday, with Dobson making some impressive grabs including one over Butler in the endzone during 3-on-3 drills. Meanwhile Martin finished with nine catches on Wednesday, one day after leading the team with 10 grabs.
Dobson’s story is obviously one that will be followed closely through training camp, as he’s in a key season after two straight years on injured reserve. The sky is the limit for the former Marshall standout, who has an opportunity to re-establish himself as an NFL receiver after what was certainly an impressive rookie campaign before injuries derailed his next two seasons. It’s been a broken record for those of us hoping for him to be the player he showed he might be, and now it’s all up to him to stand up and deliver.
Having Dobson emerge would be a great story for New England. 6’3″ fast, athletic receivers are hard to come by and would give Brady another big target, which is an area where Dobson excelled in during his first season. He’s done a good job taking advantage of the additional reps he’s had with both Edelman and Amendola out, which will hopefully help put him in position to finally live up to the expectations that caused the Patriots to pull the trigger on him when they drafted him.
Meanwhile, Martin’s play is a continuation of a pretty strong 2015 season. One of the great things about Martin has been the fact he attacks the football and plays aggressive and the Patriots definitely need a player like him in the offense. The tough part is going to be how the receiver position rounds out, as it’s an incredibly deep and competitive group heading into camp and it should be fun to follow in the coming months.
Bennett a Big Presence – One of the things discussed whenever his name comes up is the size of newcomer Martellus Bennett, who has certainly looked good from what people have seen of him so far.
With Gronkowski sidelined we’ve yet to get an inkling about how the Patriots will use Bennett in conjunction with their star tight-end, and that’s going to be one of the more interesting storylines for this team when they take the field in 2016. He was spotted off to the side getting some additional work in with Brady, as well as with Dobson and newcomer Nate Washington.
Bennett did have a scare at one point during the session when he briefly left practice with a right leg injury, although he later returned, after what the Herald reported “may have only been a cramp.”
QB Rundown – Howe also recorded the quarterbacks’ completions on Wednesday, here’s a quick look at each one:
Tom Brady – He completed 15-of-20 passes during team drills, including 9-of-11 in 7-on-7s and 6-of-9 in 11-on-11s.
Jimmy Garoppolo – Finished 12-of-17 with an interception, including 6-of-9 with a pick in 7-on-7s and 6-of-8 in 11-on-11s, including two drops by Keshawn Martin and James White.
Jacoby Brissett – He completed 15-of-18, including 7-of-10 in 7-on-7s and 8-of-8 in 11-on-11s. According to Howe, his first nine completions went to nine different players.
The Patriots will hold their final practice on Thursday.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Rundown