Postcards from Camp: Day 5


Postcards from Camp: Day 5

Day 5 of Patriots Training Camp. After an off day Monday, the team was back at it, once again in full pads. Because of the massive crowds that have been filling the hill overlooking the practice field, the media tent was moved about 40 yards to the left to open up greater spectator room. We're getting into the drudgery days of camp this week. The Saints don't come in until next Tuesday, no games on the horizon until Thursday and bones are sore.

Overcast and cool, in the low 70s.

Full pads. And James Ihedigbo and Matt Slater still cruising around in red "Leave Me ALONE!!" jerseys.

The same routine of pre-practice warmup, dynamic stretching, individual position group stretching and drills led things off.

Position groups broke up for 1-on-1 work. The receivers and defensive backs had some excellent matchups we detail a bit further down.

The safeties and linebackers worked on zone drops in the goal line.

The quarterbacks worked on throwing to secondary receivers by the goal line with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels signaling where he wanted the ball thrown, to the goalpost at the back of the end zone short at the goal line or on a fade to the corner.

Free kicks were worked on as were kickoff returns.

Jermaine Cunningham. The third-year player, who really needs to have a camp and then a preseason that ignites some of the promise of his rookie season, continues to play well off the left edge in the 4-3, especially against the run.

Aaron Hernandez. Watching him operate in a practice setting rep after rep allows you to see what his gift is. The ability to shake a defender to set him up and then cut quickly and with long steps to get massive separation. Hernandez' speed isn't awesome. His quickness and explosion are.

Devin McCourty. Aside from a few plays early in camp when he got twisted up but good by Brandon Lloyd, McCourty has been worthy of mention because he hasn't been on the scene for many plays of mention. In other words, all's quiet. And that's good.

Visanthe Shiancoe. The tight end was down on Tuesday. No obvious injury was seen as he left the field in shorts and a t-shirt at the end of practice.

Dan Koppen. The veteran center seems to spend an awful lot of time either on the ground or reaching as opposed to being able to stay on blocks and drive. He bears close watch.

Brandon Bolden. The rookie who's gained praise had a fumble and - this is nitpicking - didn't seem to find as much daylight as he has on other days. That's also a by-product of the Patriots defense being ahead of the offense.

Great action in 1-on-1s opportunity. Hernandez owned them. Wes Welker and Julian Edelman were also tough covers.

Defensive end Alex Silvestro took some extra reps on offense because Shiancoe was out. He's a big ball of danger out there at tight end, nearly crushing Julian Edelman on a goal line play when the players ran their routes at the same depth and collided.

Tom Brady and Julian Edelman's agent, Steve Dubin, was at practice.

So was former Giant Carl Banks who was in a Patriots t-shirt and shorts. When I tweeted out that info, Giants fans weren't happy.

Jermaine Cunningham and Gerard Warren combined on a tackle-for-loss of Stevan Ridley. Ridley got blasted on a number of plays. It seemed a better day for running back Shane Vereen.

Brandon Lloyd had a couple of drops in drills and 11-on-11. Bolden and Edelman had fumbles.

Josh Barrett came up with a pick off a deflection. The pass was thrown by Ryan Mallett.

Elsewhere...Mike Florio at PFT mentions that the prescription drug Adderall, which helps against the symptoms of ADD, has been cited by a number of players as a reason for positive tests for performance enhancers. Brandon Spikes blamed the same thing after his positive test in 2010.

Spikes was on the field for his most extended work since camp began. Same intense, downhill, playmaking self. With Dont'a Hightower at the strong side linebacker spot, Spikes in the middle and Jerod Mayo at the weak side, there was a formidable looking group on the field for a spell.

"The fourth quarter was who, Brady and the other rookie, Tim Rattay?" - Bill Belichick, recalling the first preseason game he coached for New England, the Hall of Fame Game in 2000 against the 49ers. Tesday was anniversary of that clash

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

Harbaugh on Belichick: 'I feel like we have a good relationship'

FOXBORO -- They sounded like a couple of old pals. 

First it was Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who spoke of Ravens coach John Harbaugh during a conference call like one of his favorite fellow lacrosse dads.

"John and I saw a game a couple of years ago, a [Johns] Hopkins vs. Maryland game," Belichick said, adding that Harbaugh's love for the sport is just starting to blossom. "Yeah, I think John is seeing the light."

Belichick added that the two might be closer if they weren't competing so often, both in-season on the field and for free agents in the offseason. 

"As you know, we get into a situation like we’re in now where they have a good team, we have a good team, we’re playing a big game on Monday night," Belichick said. "Both teams are going to do everything they can to compete as hard as they can on Monday night. That’s what it is and that’s what we all signed up for. We all know that’s a part of it.

"When we’re not going head-to-head, which isn’t very often because we compete against each other in the offseason, we compete against each other to build our team and so forth, it just puts things in a little bit of a different situation."

During his press conference with reporters on Wednesday, Harbaugh echoed Belichick's sentiments. Belichick was famously one of Harbaugh's biggest supporters earlier in his career, calling the Ravens on Harbaugh's behalf when the franchise was looking for a new head coach. And if only they weren't so frequently competing against each other, they might be even closer, Harbaugh indicated. 

"I feel like we have a good relationship," Harbaugh said. "Like you said, we're probably not socializing that much, but I don't know how many coaches really do. We're all so busy. I'll see him or any coach at the Combine or at the owner's meetings, and we have a chance to talk. It's always good. I have a ton of respect for him. I really like him as a person. I think he's a great coach -- greatest coach of this generation. He's earned that title.

"And I study him. I've always studied him. I've always studied coach Belichick from when I first met him when I was an assistant at the University of Cincinnati, and he came in and just was great to be around.  [We have a] similar background with the special teams and that sort of thing. All of that kind of goes out the window when you compete against one another. It's like anything else, you want to win. I'm sure he feels the same way."

The recent history between their respective franchises is rife with emotion: There was Baltimore's irate reaction to Belichick's unusual formations in the AFC Divisional Round two seasons ago; there was the Ravens' supposed involvement in sparking Deflategate; and there was Harbaugh's subsequent denial. But Belichick and Harbaugh made it sound on Wednesday as if all's good between them.

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

The Patriots should always be motivated heading into games against the Ravens. After all, Baltimore might be the team’s primary rival. 

Yet Monday’s matchup might be about more than past meetings. It could be a revenge game for the Ravens’ role in the Deflategate fiasco. 

As Tom E. Curran notes in the above video, the then-recently eliminated Ravens set off the ordeal when they tipped off the Colts entering the 2014 AFC Championship game. From there, the year-and-a-half-long saga played itself out, ultimately resulting in Tom Brady accepting a four-game suspension from the league. 

Curran and Mike Giardi discussed whether Monday could be a revenge game, with them both concluding that they feel the Patriots are still “pissed off” at the Ravens. 

"I’m just reading the tea leaves,” Curran said. “Bill Belichick will usually throw bouquet after bouquet at the Baltimore Ravens any time they play, from Ozzie Newsome, to George Kokinis, to Eric DeCosta, to John Harbaugh, Dean Pees, everyone. Not a lot of that today. Make of that what you will; I don’t think it’s a coincidence because I do know that when the Patriots were going through the process early on, the fact that the Ravens had dropped a dime -- their assistant special teams coach Jerry Rosburg calling the Indianapolis Colts and saying, “Look there was some foolishness going on with the K balls.’

“Additionally, when that email from the Colts to the NFL was sent to Mike Kensil, it said, 'It’s well-known throughout the league that the Patriots screw with the balls after they’ve been checked by the officials.' So if that conversation was going on during the week between those two teams, one certainly has to surmise that they also spoke about the fact of deflating footballs. 

“So as much as John Harbaugh has tried to dissuade anyone from thinking there was involvement, Dean Pees was interviewed by Ted Wells, Jerry Rosburg was interviewed by Ted Wells. Those are the only two principals from other organizations who were involved, so yeah, I think they’re still probably pretty pissed off about it.”