Day 2 of Patriots Training Camp. Practice didn't kick in until around 2 p.m., although most players were on the field between 1:30 and 1:50. Tom Brady didn't pull on his jersey until nearly 2 causing a ripple of concern (at least with me) that he was elsewhere.
Overcast for the most part at the start of practice with some breaks of sun later. It was muggy again, temperatures again in the mid-80s. There were a few sprinkles at one point but no rain.
WHAT THEY WORE
They wore Nike practice jerseys - white for the offense, blue for the defense. Again. Same as yesterday. No full pads yet, although teams are allowed to go full pads once a day and also have a walkthrough with no contact.
WHAT THEY DID
Started off with some light stuff at 1:30 until everyone dribbed and drabbed out there. Why doesn't everyone come out at once? My suspicion is that there are meetings, high-level X-ing and O-ing going on, checking release points and hand placement. I would be very disappointed to find that Tom Brady was in the locker room trying to send out a hit on those photographers who got the latest picture of him cavorting near water. Once everyone was out there, the corners and wideouts worked on jams and releases respectively. The DBs were being shown how to funnel their men to help with their jams. The receivers did some catching drills in which a towel was thrown into their line of vision as the ball arrived. There was a lot of special teams punt work done. Most of it stressed coverage. There was also 7-on-7, 5-on-5 using half the field and 11-on-11 followed by field goals at the end. And full field sprints.
Tom Brady went 25 for 28 on Friday after going 26 for 29 on Thursday. (editors note: Paoletti's in charge of Brady stat-keeping and she made a weird face that said, "I might have missed one..." There will be consequences). Julian Edelman looked outstanding in some of his 1-on-1 drills. He usually does. Aaron Hernandez also had a solid day. And Jerod Mayo has been on the field almost non-stop for the defense through the first two days.
Free agent fullback Spencer Larsen didn't look good. A few drops offensively. And the reporter who asked Rob Gronkowski whether Gronk's ankle felt OK FOUR FREAKING DIFFERENT WAYS at the start of the group interview, basically ruining the easily spooked Gronk for the rest of the interview. That guy wasn't so hot either.
WHAT WE SAW
Tom Brady was wearing Under Armour cleats with big red laces. Again. Robert Kraft came out to the field and backslapped. Again. This time with Hernandez and Deion Branch. Kraft was wearing what appeared to be skinny jeans and a black polo with his collar popped. Hey, don't shoot the messenger, here.
WHAT THEY SAID
"What difference does it make? Do we have any football questions here?" - Bill Belichick when asked if he saw pictures of Tom Brady cliff diving.
With their first selection on Day 3 of the NFL Draft, the Patriots add another weapon for Tom Brady, selecting Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, in the fourth round, No. 112 overall.
Mitchell, 5-11, 198, began his college career as a cornerback before moving to wide receiver.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the organization "will continue to have Tom's back" in reference to Tom Brady's four-game Deflategate suspension being reinstated.
Here's an excerpt of what Kraft, speaking Friday night at the Patriots draft party in a video on the team website, Patriots.com, told fans:
“Number one, there is no finer ambassador for the game of football, and the New England Patriots, than Tom Brady. We always have had and will continue to have Tom’s back, especially when he’s being treated unfairly and he knows that.”
"All the decisions that this organization and I personally have made throughout this ordeal have been focused on putting Tom in the best possible position for success.
“Number two, I have been in constant communication with Tom over the past 16 months and we’ve had numerous conversations this past week. We are both on the same page and he knows exactly where my allegiances, and the total team’s [allegiances] are, relative to the extremely unfair discipline that he has been subjected to.
“I share in our fans’ anger and frustration with the penalties the league has levied, and the entire process and how it was conducted. But please trust that I am always trying to do what I believe is best for this franchise, and pledge that I will always continue to do that.”
After the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision reinstated Brady's four-game suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, it appears Brady is preparing to continue his legal fight against the penalty.
Former Patriots players appear to have Brady's back, as well.
FOXBORO – The Patriots used the 96th overall pick – a compensatory pick that came to the Patriots after losing Darrelle Revis – on a very large man. Vincent Valentine, a 6-3, 329-pound defensive tackle from Nebraska who is more space-eater than penetrator.
Though Director of Player Personnel Nick Caserio said Valentine has played all over the defensive line including 5-technique (outside shoulder of the tackle), he’ll likely be an early-down, middle of the defensive line player for the Patriots at the outset. How does the team go about getting him on the field?
Currently, they are pretty well-stocked with big bodies. Last year’s first rounder, Malcom Brown, is going to play a lot for a long time. Terrance Knighton, added as a free agent, figures to be a major component of the defensive line. And aging Alan Branch showed in 2015 that he’s still got plenty of plays left in him.
The other 300-plus pound linemen in the mix are Marcus Kuhn, a free agent brought over from the Giants, and Joe Vellano, who’s been with the team for four seasons as an end of the roster player.
Valentine had an injury-plagued final season with the Cornhuskers and will need to tune up his body and conditioning for the NFL. He’s not a project but neither is he a plug-and-play type who can be expected to walk in and make immediate contributions. With the 31-year-old Branch nearing the end, it’s reasonable to expect Valentine to be the successor to him in the Patriots interior rotation when they go heavy on early downs and in short-yardage and goal-line.