Physical Session, Heavy on Situational Football
The Patriots concluded their sixth training camp practice on Wednesday morning in full pads, their third such workout under sunny, warm skies at the Gillette Stadium practice fields. The hitting was heavier than in any session yet with the focus of the day being situational football.
Not Practicing: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis, Tre’ Jackson, Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Ebner (Olympic Games), Jonathan Cooper, Keshawn Martin, Chris Hogan, Donald Brown, Bryan Stork, Clay Harbor
Alan Branch passed his conditioning run and was back at practice today. But the team was easing him in.
Early Focus on the Running Game: The morning started out with the fans, the smallest crowd to date, singing a Happy Birthday ditty to QB Tom Brady who acknowledged the gesture with a wave to the carolers.
The early focus was on the running game, LeGarrette Blount seems very healthy this summer and he, Tyler Gaffney, D.J. Foster, Brandon Bolden and James White all saw some work carrying the ball. Gaffney did some of his best running of the summer today, displaying good vision and hitting the holes quickly. There was some solid hitting going on with some audible pops heard up in the stands for the first time.
With Bryan Stork out, David Andrews, Joe Thuney, and Kyler Kerbyson all got work at center. Thuney seems to be really catching the eye of the coaches, especially Dante Scarnecchia. The rookie has stood out as arguably the best OL in camp thus far. They keep putting more on his plate and he continues to excel. Shaq Mason seems to be healthy now and after watching most of Monday’s practice from the side, got a lot of work inside.
Markus Kuhn and Malcom Brown combined for a nice stop early in situational work. They were doubled and filled the hole, allowing Dont’a Hightower to come in and stop Blount for no gain.
Quarterbacks Start Slowly: Both Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo started slowly in the early 7-on-7 drills. While neither looked particularly sharp, Jacoby Brissett shook off his poor showing on Monday night and followed that up with perhaps his best practice this summer.
But Brady and Jimmy G. heated up once the team did their first 11-on-11 drill. Aaron Dobson worked across the middle and easily beat his coverage in the right corner of the end zone for a TD on the pass from Garoppolo.
Brady had Chris Harper on a deep route with Malcolm Butler in coverage but the ball was just overthrown, despite a nice diving effort from Harper who just got a fingertip on the ball. Brady lobbed a beautiful arcing pass to Melvin Mitchell who had beaten Cyrus Jones. But just as the ball arrived Jones was able to knock it away.
Brady hit Dobson on a deep seam route with Devin McCourty in coverage. Gaffney did a great job of picking up Geneo Grissom on a stunt to give 12 the time to throw.
Brissett made a really nice deep back shoulder throw to Mitchell who ran about a 15-17-yard route. He turned with E.J. Biggers in coverage and the ball was right there. Brissett put some nice zip on that pass.
Brady recognized single coverage on Gronk with a safety, (Vinnie Sunseri) and threw a jump ball to Gronk in the corner of the end zone that was too easy.
1-on1 Drills: The big men were really getting at it today. And once again it was Thuney the rookie who beat all comers, including Terrance Knighton. Other winners included:
Grissom was able to bull rush past LaAdrian Waddle with some nice power.
Rob Ninkovich blew past Shaq Mason with a quick move outside.
Marcus Cannon pancaked Rufus Johnson who tried to bull rush past him.
Jabaal Sheard beat Nate Solder with a speed rush to the outside.
Geneo Grissom beat Josh Kline cleanly to the outside.
Vince Valentine bulled his way past Kerbyson with some nice power.
During the tackling drills where the defender has to shed a blocker and then take down the runner, Markus Kuhn shed a Ted Karras block to take down a runner. And Ninkovich with a quick inside move on what looked to be Cameron Fleming hit the runner for a loss.
Wide Receivers in Focus: With Amendola and Edelman yet to practice and Chris Hogan and Keshawn Martin out, the younger wide receivers have been getting a ton of reps. We’ve already mentioned some of the work Dobson did, but Chris Harper, DeAndre Carter and Malcolm Mitchell were all displaying some solid work.
In early 1-on-1 drills, Mitchell spun Justin Coleman completely around and made a nice play on a pass from Brady. He beat Cyrus Jones on one deep play and had another swatted away at the last moment.
Carter put a nice move on Cyrus Jones and was in the clear, forcing the rookie corner to grab a handful of jersey, in what was an obvious pass interference. Harper was making plays as well, going all out for deep balls on a couple of occasions.
Bill Belichick mentioned the depth at wide receiver earlier. With the top four WRs out, the team was still able to get some good looks on offense.
Play of the Day: Late in practice, the team was doing situational work with Bill Belichick calling out the down and distance. With the offense facing a 4th and 1 from the 1-yard line, Brady handed off to Tyler Gaffney.
Cornerback Darryl Roberts recognized the play, shot into the gap and was able to fight off the block of Joey Iosefa who has 50 pounds on him and still drop Gaffney for a loss at the four-yard line. With the team having six corners fighting for two slots on the roster, this is the kind of play that the coaches will remember.
The Special Teams return game is still led by the rookie Cyrus Jones. The primary job is his to lose at this point. He, V’Angelo Bentley and Matthew Slater were sharing duties but Jones always went first.
Joe Judge lit into the coverage team early in the practice for not lining up correctly. He’s a fiery, detail oriented guy and he has an incredible amount of depth to work with this year. I think this special teams unit can be….. special.
Patrick Chung blocked a field goal attempt late in practice.
Tomorrow’s practice begins at 9:15 a.m. We’ll be there, stay tuned…
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 Patriots Draft 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Danny Amendola Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower Jabaal Sheard Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler New England Patriots NFL Rob Gronkowski Rob Ninkovich Tom Brady