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

Curran's Patriots-Bills preview


Curran's Patriots-Bills preview

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FOXBORO  – Four quarters left in Tom Brady’s suspension, an undetermined (but also dwindling) number of days remaining in Rex Ryan’s tenure as a head coach, this game is intriguing for a lot of reasons. The Patriots can close out a remarkable quarter-season performance without Brady and put him back in the driver’s seat with a three-game edge over the Bills simply by taking out Rex. How they manage that – and which quarterback manages that – is the question that’s swirled all week.
Traditionally, the Patriots have thrown over and around the Bills’ front-seven with great success. Tom Brady’s good at that. Jimmy Garoppolo, with a bad shoulder, or Jacoby Brissett, with limited experience, may not be able to pull off the same act. Which means this could be a day for LeGarrette Blount who so far is leading the league in rushing. Many of those yards have come at the closeout juncture of games. This week, he may asked to do the damage early. The Bills have allowed five touchdowns on the grounds this season but only 3.4 yards per carry.
Without Sammy Watkins and dealing with issues at left tackle, the Bills are going to have to get a productive, 25-to-30-touch game out of running back LeSean McCoy. He’s handled the ball 59 times so far in three games (11 catches) and has been by far the focal point of the Bills offense. But with the Patriots having the chance to fixate on McCoy, Buffalo and newly-minted offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn better have a backup plan if and when the Patriots send multiple players to dog him. The Bills’ will be in a position where it’s on Tyrod Taylor to figure something out. The Patriots aren’t going to aggressively rush him. If the rush gets past him, it was done by mistake. Force Taylor to be a passer, find Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and  ailing tight end Charles Clay. Meanwhile, the Patriots figure to have Donta Hightower back to help with quarterbacking the defense. The Patriots are in a position defensively to really put the screws to a Bills team that doesn’t seem to have a lot of options.
Old friend Brandon Tate is the Bills’ return guy on both punts and kickoffs. He’ll get a good test from the Patriots special teams corps which has been a major story this season. Ryan Allen had a career game last week against Houston with six punts inside the 20 and one sitting on the 20. There were no return yards. The Patriots kick coverage created two turnovers last game against Houston and hasn’t allowed a return past the 25.
QUESTIONABLE: QB Jacoby Brissett (thumb), QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder), T Marcus Cannon (calf), G Jonathan Cooper (foot), LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder), TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring), LB Dont’a Hightower (knee), CB Eric Rowe
OUT: WR Sammy Watkins (foot), T Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle), C Patrick Lewis (knee) and WR Greg Salas (groin) QUESTIONABLE: S Colt Anderson (foot), TE Charles Clay (knee), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), T Cordy Glenn (ankle), QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder), S Jonathan Meeks(foot) and S Aaron Williams (ankle)

The speed with which Buffalo adjusts to the Patriots offensive game plan and whether or not the Patriots have an adjustment to the adjustment. The uncertainty of the Patriots quarterback situation has been a distraction for the Bills and Rex Ryan this week and – given the Bills leaky pass defense – how Buffalo decides to deploy will matter a lot depending on who’s at quarterback.
Jannyris Edeldolagan. That’s just an amalgamation of the three wideouts of similar talent, pallor and quickness that kill defenses in the receiver shell game the Patriots play every week. Just when a defense thinks it’s got it figured out on a key third down and has set itself to take away Edelman, for instance, the dagger gets inserted by Amendola or Hogan. It’s like a shell game.
LeSean McCoy. That’s the whole damn game. Cuz you. Don’t wanna mess with Shady. Cuz Shady. Will … cause big problems.
“I fly around every day. You can’t land this jet, you know what I’m saying? It’s like having a private plane, wherever I want to go, I just go. I don’t have to worry about no jet fuel. I would say Gatorade but they don’t sponsor me so I’ll just go get me some good ole’ something to drink, and Gatorade can have the plug.” – Martellus Bennett, Patriots tight end, on the team flying around in September.
“It’s more of a ‘this is still a game.’ It’s a billion dollar industry and things but it’s still a game and you’ve got to be true to yourself and I’m true to myself. To me it’s just a thing where, you know, I enjoy Belichick’s press conferences and everything else because he’s true to himself and he does a great job. It’s pretty funny to me because you guys can never get anything out of him and I just think it’s great. It’s kind of funny that way. I pulled it knowing that every question is going to be about who’s the quarterback and all that. One thing I know for sure is that Tom Brady is not the quarterback and I feel good about that.” – Simple Rex, after being asked why he mimicked Bill Belichick during his week-opening press conference
Patriots 23, Bills 13

Report: Ex-Raiders FB Marcel Reece works out for Patriots


Report: Ex-Raiders FB Marcel Reece works out for Patriots

Fullback Marcel Reece, cut by the Oakland Raiders earlier this week, was one of five players who worked out Friday for the Patriots, ESPN's Mike Reiss reported

Reece, a seven-year NFL veteran, all with the Raiders, was suspended last December for the final game of the 2015 season and the first three games of this season for violating the NFL performance enhancing drug policy. 

Reiss reported that guards Jake Bernstein and Chase Farris, center Robert Kugler and tight end Greg Scruggs also worked out for the Patriots on Friday.

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