By Tom E. Curran
FOXBORO - Couple quick notes right off the top, Niko Koutouvides and Julian Edelman got ejected from practice on Thursday.
Seriously. Both of them, arguing balls and strikes.
Actually, the two got in a jam up after a punt return and stayed in each other's faces, attracting more players until Bill Belichick decided he'd seen enough and told them to kindly "Get out!"
Both slunk away, across the empty practice field and down the stairs at about 3:20 p.m. The other note? The defense absolutely dominated practice on Thursday to the point where wide receiver Deion Branch asked me, "You see the defense today?"
Did. And I've seen it look tough all week.
Nice out there. Real nice. Low 80s, puffy white clouds, blue skies, a subtle breeze. Good sunburn weather.
WHAT THEY WOREFull pads.
WHAT THEY DID
WHAT WE SAW
Two players went out with injuries on Thursday, rookie safety Tavon Wilson and running back Stevan Ridley. Ridley was seen holding the back of his right knee. Wilson had a leg injury.
Eric Kettani, Alfonzo Dennard, James Ihedigbo, Spencer Larsen, Tracy White, Malcolm Williams, Markus Zusevics, Matt Kopa, Kyle Hix, Sebastian Vollmer, Visanthe Shiancoe, Daniel Fells, Myron Pryor, Jonathan Fanene and Jabar Gaffney (newly minted as a non-participant after a leg tweak Wednesday) were all down.
Devin McCourty continues to show excellent man coverage skills. One play in particular stood out when he shadowed Brandon Lloyd into the end zone then, back turned to the quarterback, mirrored every move of Lloyd's.
On one particular play early in practice, Dont'a Hightower gave the most vicious jam off the line on Rob Gronkowski and stuck with it for several yards.
Donte Stallworth had a terrific fingertip catch on a skinny post that was lasered in by Ryan Mallett.
It's fascinating to watch Chandler Jones play-to-play. The effort he expends getting upfield to try and turn the corner is astounding. Not because it's hard for him to generate it but because he's at an all-out sprint. Speaking of Jones, he discarded reserve tackle Darrion Weems and blasted Brandon Bolden for a tackle behind the line. Also, when Jones made a play to "sack" Tom Brady, Jerod Mayo could be heard yelling of Jones, "That's our closer! He's our closer!"
Wes Welker and Shane Vereen had to take a penalty lap after jumping offsides during 11-on-11.
During the 1-on-1 tackling drills, Tyler Urban turned Sergio Brown inside out. And that's not something the glacial Urban will often do.
The offensive linemen huddled up for a long discussion during what was a difficult practice for the entire group.
After the issue between Edelman and Koutouvides, the defense huddled up as a whole soon after in the midst of 11-on-11s.
Nate Ebner had a terrific diving breakup after a Brady pass was tipped at the line.
Brandon Bolden muffed a punt return. Bolden also got hit hard by impressive undrafted rookie Marcus Fortson.
The Patriots did a walk-through rep of the Hail Mary. Wes Welker made the catch against dummy defense.
Brandon Bolden muffed a punt
WHO'S HOTI'm going to give a nod to Jeremy Ebert. Muffed punts and kicks aside, he's doing better than imagined at receiver. Ebert has good hands and it making a case for himself. It would help if he was consistent on special teams, but it's early yet.
WHO'S NOTThe offense struggled. Again. More dropped passes and poor throws.
WHAT THEY SAID"That's what practice is for: Push it. I think if you don't push it to that point, you don't know how far it can go.'' -- Bill Belichick