Patriots training camp notes: Day 3


Patriots training camp notes: Day 3

By Mary Paoletti and Danny Picard

Saturday marked the first Patriots training camp session in full pads, so you know there's a lot to talk about. Let's dive right in.

Today's attendance looked a lot like Friday's. The only discrepancies to note are Myron Pryor and Alfonzo Dennard wearing shorts instead of pads for today's first full contact session. You'll remember (I hope), Dennard appeared to tweak a hammy on Thursday. Not that Nick Caserio would enlighten reporters on his status: "We'll take it day by day." Right-o. Dennard was

Rob Gronkowski met with a trainer after completing a play during 11-on-11. The trainer put gloves on and gave attention to Gronkowski's face for a few minutes before another trainer was called over. Eventually, the tight end ran off the field holding a swath of cotton to his chin. When he came back out 20 minutes later he had a bandage on the exact spot. Gronkowski hopped right back into the action.

Brandon Spikes, who's been rehabbing since February knee surgery, participated in position drills under the watchful eye of Pepper Johnson. The linebackers coach even trailed behind Spikes when the team ran. It looked like a progression for No. 55 because he did get in on half-line drills. Still not ready for team drills yet, though.

Justin Francis suffered a leg injury during practice and had to be carted off the field. The undrafted D-lineman just passed his physical and was removed from the activenon-football injury list one week ago.

Linebacker Tracy White walked off the field around 3:19 PM and didn't return. No news of his injury yet.

Signs of the first full-pads practice: Dont'a Hightower getting both wrists taped, Patrick Chung running a lap for tackling Stevan Ridley to the ground, and more competitiveness in general. During 11-on-11, Vince Wilfork and Stevan Ridley got the football tied up between them -- neither surrendered even after the whistle was blown.

Laps, laps, laps. Jermaine Cunningham took a lap, Ron Brace ran one, Marcus Forston took a trip around the goalpost. Expect to see more of that as practices get more involved.

The top O-line unit had Nate Solder at LT, Robert Gallery at LG, Dan Koppen taking most of the snaps at center, Dan Connolly at RG, and Marcus Cannon at RT.

The second offensive-line unit had Kyle Hix at LT, Donald Thomas at LG, Ryan Wendell at C, Jamey Richard at RG, and Matt Kopa at RT.

Jerod Mayo and Devin McCourty each made huge plays during 7-on-7 that set the tone of the drills. On the first play, Mayo batted a ball out of Aaron Hernandez' hands after Hernandez seemingly made the catch on a quick out. When the TE turned up field and went to tuck the ball away, Mayo stripped it away from him.

On the very next play, Brady attempted to go deep down the right sideline to Brandon Lloyd, but McCourty stayed right with him, turned at the last second, and got his hands on the ball to break up what would have been a touchdown.

As for Brady's receptions, Wes Welker made one of the more notable catches of the day, laying out for and catching a ball down the left sideline.

Welker also unleashed an audible groan after missing a pass from Brady during the same receiver drills.

Ras-I Dowling laid a thunderous hit on an unsuspecting Ridley that sent the running back to the ground. It was a good hit; the takedown was accidental.

Aaron Hernandez used a gorgeous cutback against Tavon Wilson, leaving skid marks on the stunned rookie.

Chandler Jones looked good when the offensive and defensive linemen went 1-on-1. But you can tell he's still adjusting -- the DE looked especially gassed toward the end of practice. You know the look: hands on the hips at every chance.

Is Tom Brady mentally ready to finish his career elsewhere?


Is Tom Brady mentally ready to finish his career elsewhere?

The discussion on the future of Tom Brady is only going to intensify as the days, months or years tick off his career. Will that legendary career end as a member of the New England Patriots? Listen to the insightful discussion on this week's "Quick Slants The Podcast". Tom E. Curran says Tom Brady is mentally prepared to finish his career elsewhere.

Tom E. Curran, Phil Perry, and guest Mike Giardi have a spirited discussion about which quarterback should start against the Bills.

Curran and Bills columnist Tim Graham put Rex Ryan on the couch.

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Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him


Jamie Collins says he'll play quarterback for Patriots if they need him

FOXBORO -- It's looking more and more like the Patriots will have options at quarterback Sunday against the Bills. Both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett threw at practice on Wednesday, and it appears that at least one of them, if not both, will be available for the final game of Tom Brady's suspension. 

Patriots receiver Julian Edelman is the likely candidate to jump behind center should the team run into an emergency, but on Wednesday another player threw his hat into the ring. 

"Yeah, I'll play," said linebacker Jamie Collins. "Whatever it is. I don't care what the level is. I don't care what the level is. Whatever it is they need me to do, I'm doing it."

That would be some kind of show.

At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, and with remarkable closing speed, Collins would be an intimidating run-first signal-caller. He's listed at two inches shorter and five pounds heavier than Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, and his NFL Scouting Combine 40-yard dash time was only 0.05 seconds slower than Newton's. 

Just to take this pie-in-the-sky idea even further, Collins can throw, too. Or he could at one point in time. He played quarterback at Franklin County High in Meadville, Miss. before heading off to Southern Mississippi to play all over the Golden Eagles defense. As a high school senior, he cracked 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Asked if he saw himself back then as a future star in the NFL as a passer, Collins shook his head.

"Nah," he said. "I ain't even see myself as a quarterback in the NFL."

The Patriots would be just fine with Collins sticking at linebacker. He had one of the best games of his career against the Texans last week, racking up 14 tackles and picking off Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler. He also made the calls in the middle of the defense, which is a job that typically falls to Dont'a Hightower, but Collins took over with Hightower out with a knee injury.

"Jamie Collins, he's a beast, man," said safety Duron Harmon after the game. "I tell you what, I've seen a lot of football players play, and he's definitely one of my favorite players to just watch. You just get caught up sometimes seeing all the amazing stuff he does on the field, you just sit in awe. I'm so happy he's on my team, I'll tell you that."

And the team is happy he's at linebacker. But imagine him at quarterback?