Postcard from Patriots training camp: Day 4

Postcard from Patriots training camp: Day 4
July 27, 2014, 11:30 am
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FOXBORO -- Here's the Postcard from Camp for Day 4 of Patriots practice on Sunday, July 27.

Ominous clouds covered the Gillette Stadium practice fields to start. Temperatures hung in the mid-70s as the sun broke through periodically. Rains came at about 11:15 and ended the session abruptly.

Full pads for the second consecutive day. Tommy Kelly wore shoulder pads, a helmet and shorts for the second day in a row since being activated off of PUP. Darrelle Revis was easily spotted as he continues to wear neon green cleats. Quarterbacks wore red non-contact jerseys.

Two new guys -- Cole Stanford and Brian Tyms -- wore No. 14 and 84, respectively.

Aaron Dobson, Alfonzo Dennard, Deontae Skinner, Jeremy Gallon and Dominique Easley were present but in shorts and t-shirts and they worked as part of a rehab group.

Matthew Slater, Jemea Thomas, Daxton Swanson and Chris Martin were not seen at the start of the session, but Slater came out eventually. 

The team warmed up as they usually did by running through some plays half-speed.

That was followed by some stretching and some position-specific drills: Quarterbacks worked on throwing over pads being shoved in their faces; tight ends practiced ball protection; running backs maneuvered through bags; receivers did an agility drill while balls were whipped their way from short distances; defensive backs broke passes from an assistant to work on their hands and change of direction; trash barrels were out for defensive linemen and linebackers to show the lanes they should take to running plays; offensive linemen pushed each other, appearing to focus on the angles of their blocks; specialists worked on punt protection and punt return vice blockers worked on their footwork to contain gunners.

Another session of positional work saw defensive backs getting into their drops and breaking on passes thrown by Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio. Quarterbacks and running backs worked on their exchanges. Linebackers and tight ends got to work on executing/defeating combination blocks (two blockers versus two backers). Defensive linemen went against other defensive linemen and worked on defeating blocks.

Contact started in earnest when the offensive and defensive lines (with linebackers) got together to practice the running game. Some good pad-crunching happening between the tranches during this period.

The offense then broke off to work on the play-action pass game -- always a crowd-pleaser. Long completions on no defense is a bit of a bone thrown to those in attendance who spend much of practice watching drills that can be fairly mundane from afar.

The punt return team got to work about halfway through the practice.

Seven-on-seven work followed, as did 11-on-11. The team finished off with some goal-line reps which were cut short due to rain. At that point, practice ended and everyone headed for cover.

* Brandon LaFell needed a strong day at camp, and got one on Sunday. After a couple days of dropped passes early in camp, LaFell hauled in a few on Sunday, including a nice one-handed catch early in the day deep down the field when receivers and quarterbacks ran through the route tree.

* Brandon Browner showed everybody what "Legion of Boom" means with a nice hit on rookie James White during 11-on-11 play. He said yesterday that he's not going to change his game, despite the NFL cracking down on illegal contact.

* James Develin had a nice little day, stamped by his block in front of Ridley that got his teammates fired up. Caserio had some good things to say about him earlier in the day.

* Not a leisurely Sunday for Michael Hoomanawanui. Hoo-man took a big hit from Taylor McCuller and reacted by trying to get into it with the undrafted rookie. Hoomanawanui also walked off the field with trainers towards the end of the rain-shortened practice.

* Cameron Gordon got the biggest signing bonus of all undrafted rookies, but he had a hard time on Sunday. Justin Jones ran him over on one play. On another play during 11-on-11s, he jumped offsides and had to run a lap.

* Rob Gronkowski took part in blocking drills with the tight ends and offensive linemen for the second day in a row, but he did not participate in 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work.

* Brandon LaFell made a beautiful one-handed catch on a ball thrown by Tom Brady while quarterbacks and receivers worked on the route tree with no defense.

* Watching safeties and corners trying to pluck long passes from mid-air gave us a chance to see how their hands worked. Duron Harmon impressed, consistently making grabs with his fingertips. Nate Ebner had a harder time, letting one pass bounce off his chest pad and to the turf.

* Quarterbacks have worked all training camp on moving in the pocket. During one drill, we saw signal callers get out in front of ball carriers and lead-block.

* Punter Ryan Allen worked an interesting drill with special teams coach Scott O'Brien. With O'Brien throwing underhanded snaps to Allen, the coach would occasionally mix in a bad one that Allen would have to scoop quickly and get in a position to boot.

* Jerod Mayo got a rise out of the crowd when he blew up a stretch handoff to Brandon Bolden. Mayo has said that he won't really know how his pec (which was torn last season and needed season-ending surgery) would feel until the hitting starts. It seems to be doing just fine as he's had two strong days in pads.

* Stevan Ridley showed good bounce as the offensive line and defensive line worked on the running game. The hole got swallowed up and he juked to the outside for a nice gain. Shane Vereen did the same later in the 11-on-11 session, as did James White.

* James Develin laid maybe the best pop of the day when he served as a lead blocker for Ridley when the team got after it in the running game without defensive backs or receivers. Develin got a big roar from his teammates standing close by, and he celebrated with Ridley's signature kick-the-door-in touchdown celebration.

* Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Roy Finch all took reps as punt returners. Patrick Chung, Logan Ryan, Tavon Wilson and Kyle Arrington worked as blockers on the outside as did Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Devin McCourty and Kannoris Davis. Interesting to see Allen work on different types of punts, he boomed some spirals into the end zone and hit others end-over-end and short.

* Browner leveled rookie James White in an 11-on-11 run play. Easily the best hit in camp after two days of contact.

* The offensive line saw a lot of shakeup during 11-on-11 work. Rookie center Bryan Stork got some work snapping to Tom Brady. Sebastian Vollmer played a little bit at left tackle in some sets.

* Michael Hoomanawanui took exception to a hit from Taylor McCuller that was a little more full-speed than Hoo-man might've liked. McCuller drove the tight end well out of  bounds and as soon as Hoomanawanui got off the turf, he went right after McCuller. For what it's worth, McCuller tried to help Hoomanawanui off the ground after the hit. Dont'a Hightower broke things up as the peacemaker.

* Justin Jones ran over Cameron Gordon in a tackling drill. Undrafted rookie on undrafted rookie crime there.

* Gordon and Steve Beauharnais were forced to run a lap after going offsides in 11-on-11 work.

* Jimmy Garoppolo and Bryan Stork ran a lap soon thereafter when Garoppolo mishandled a snap.

* Michael Hoomanawanui walked off the field with trainers at the end of the day as the rains came. Hard to say what he tweaked.

* Brady complete to Thompkins with Browner in coverage.
* Brady complete to LaFell underneath.

* Mallett to Vereen on the flat.
* Mallett to Bolden in the flat.
* Mallett picked by Malcolm Butler while targeting Wilson Van Hooser.

* Garoppolo to Amendola underneath.
* Garoppolo to Watson underneath.
* Garoppolo to Tyms over the middle of the field, just above the outstretched arms of 53.
* Garoppolo to Finch on a swing pass.

* Thompkins drops a pass from Brady that hit the wideout in the chest. Nice move to break free from a Browner jam for Thompkins to get open.

* Mallett complete to LaFell over the middle for a good gain. Brady reacted as a spectator, giving a big emphatic first-down signal.
* Mallett complete to Edelman on a slant off of play-action.

* Garoppolo incomplete deep down the sideline to Josh Boyce. Broken up by Tavon Wilson.
* Garoppolo complete long down the sideline to DJ Williams with Michael Buchannan in coverage. Good read of a mismatch there.

* Mallett complete to Boyce deep down the sideline. Great ball from Mallett. Boyce beat Browner straight down the sideline and Chung was late in giving help.

* Garoppolo couldn't find an open receiver on one play-action play. He ended up tucking and running for a short gain. Shade of Tim Tebow during that particular play.

* Mallett to Edelman on a play-action pass.
* Mallett incomplete to Boyce after Boyce fell down with the ball in the air. He appeared to get his feet entangled with Malcolm Butler.

* Garoppolo complete to Amendola on the sideline.

* Mallett incomplete to Justin Jones.
* Mallett complete for a touchdown to DJ Williams on a goal-line route.

* Garoppolo complete to Jones in the end zone on the goal line.

"It feels good to get back to real football with the pads on." -- James Develin.