Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 12

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Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 12

So, before we start, you may notice that I put Day 12 in the headline. The last entry was Day 8. Time warp, right? Noooo. See, the Patriots reported July 25. Theyve had nine practices as of Sunday. But theyve been in camp almost two weeks. So calling Sunday Day 9 of camp isnt terribly accurate. Fascinating, no? I cant wait for a game so I can have more stuff to write about.

WEATHER

Tropical. Hot, humid and in the high 80s. No rain.

WHAT THEY WORE

Full pads. And Brandon Spikes appeared to be wearing a brace on his right knee. Not sure if thats a new addition or standard fare.

WHAT THEY DID

1:45-2:30: The same walkthrough, stretching, positional stretching, positional drills that they always do.

2:30: 11-on-11 Drills with a lot of situational stuff mixed in

2:45: Special teams (directional kickoffs and coverage)

2:55: 7 on-7

3:05: 1-on-1 tackling drill

3:10: Special teams, pass-blocking drills, quarterback fundamental drills

3:20:3:45: 11-on-11 situational work

WHAT WE SAW

A heckuva pick by Ras-I Dowling down the left sideline on a pass intended for Aaron Hernandez. The ball was thrown by Brian Hoyer.

Jerod Mayo with a stout tackle on Aaron Hernandez in 1-on-1 tackling. Also, Shane Vereen accelerating around Bobby Carpenter and Julian Edelman juking Josh Barrett to the ground.

Converted defensive player Alex Silvestro making a catch in 11-on-11s.

A nice catch by Jessie Holley, followed by my saying, Hes not bad. And my friend Mary Paoletti saying, Liar. Thats the first good play hes made.

Kyle Love down for a stretch and then being helped to the sidelines after what appeared to be an eye injury.

Tom Brady going 14-for-21 in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

Tackle Darrion Weems leaving practice after an apparent leg injury.

A too-many-men-on-the-field penalty on a field-goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski at the end of a hurry-up drive.
Several trick plays (were not allowed to divulge the nature of said plays. Sorry).

Gronk getting yelled at to get on the field for a kickoff drill.

Chandler Jones pursuit of a scrambling Brian Hoyer on a slow-developing screen.

Brandon Lloyd and Jabar Gaffney standing in the end zone catching deep balls from all three quarterbacks. And Lloyd giving a little surreptitious wave to some kids who kept yelling his name.

Brady getting agitated at Donald Thomas during 11-on-11s.

James Ihedigbo and Matt Slater out of their red jerseys.

WHOS HOT

Shane Vereen. He appears to be coming around after a slow start to camp.

Devin McCourty. Hes been very good in press coverage when asked to do that a weak point in 2011.

Aaron Hernandez. Generally catching everything thrown to him.

WHOS NOT

Brandon Deaderick seems to take a lap every practice for some infraction.

WHAT THEY SAID

Weve got a long way to go. Weve got a long way to go. Weve got a lot of practices, a lot of meetings; weve got four preseason games. Weve got a lot of work ahead of us and were nowhere where we need to be here, but thats why were coming out and practicing every day. Like I said, were not taking anything for granted, were trying to come out and string practices together. We had a good one today and weve got to come out and have a good one tomorrow. Tom Brady on meshing with the offensive line.

Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

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Running back D.J. Foster making a late push for Patriots roster spot

CHARLOTTE – D.J. Foster began making his case to stick on the Patriots’ 53-man roster Friday night against the Panthers.

An undrafted pass-catching back from Arizona State who’d missed almost all of training camp with an unknown injury was pretty persuasive. He caught three passes for 33 yards, showing nice burst, carried twice for 9 and returned a punt for 16. He saw his action late in the third with fellow rookie Jacoby Brissett in at quarterback.

Foster punctuated his first reception – an 11-yard screen that Brissett (9-for-9 for 85 yards and a touchdown) – by lowering his shoulder and delivering a blow that Foster said he wanted to “get that adrenaline going.”

“It felt great,” said Foster. “It had been a long time. I was telling some guys, that was the first time I’d gotten hit since college. It felt good to get back out there. The coaches gave me a chance to get out there and show what I could do.”

James White will be the Patriots sub-back (or third down back or pass-catching back or whatever you want to call him) until Dion Lewis returns from his knee malady. But Foster showed the acceleration and quickness that made him such a productive player for the Sun Devils. With 222 receptions for 2,458 yards and another 2,355 on the ground, Foster would fit nicely in an offense like the Patriots that uses the short and intermediate passing game so well.  

He hasn’t had much chance to make a case to stick and the Patriots – with White, LeGarrette Blount, Tyler Gaffney, Brandon Bolden and Joey Iosefa all in the mix – may have to take their chances with releasing Foster and hoping he goes unclaimed so New England can bring him back for their practice squad. It’s a risk, but other teams are encountering the same issues at cutdown time. Do they pluck a player they passed on in the draft and put him on their roster ahead of players they’ve been working with since the spring?

Bill Belichick wasn’t effusive in his praise for Foster but did indicate it was a good opportunity to at least see him in game action.

“We played a couple of guys that haven’t gotten much playing time so we got a chance to look at them,” he explained. “D.J. is one of those so we wanted to give him a few opportunities to handle the ball because he hasn’t done it this year. I thought he did some good things. There are a couple of things that he could do a little better but we’ll look at the film and see how it goes. He did a couple of things with his chances out there.”

To make the most of those chances, Foster said he avoided getting too hyped before getting on the field.  
 
“Just keeping my calm and hearing the playcall and just doing the mechanics and all the fundamentals of being in the backfield (was the focus),” said Foster. "Coach Ivan (Fears, running backs coach) did a great job of keeping me mellow. I felt healthy, I felt really good. I got some punt returns, some kick returns, some special teams. I was seeking contact to get that adrenaline going.

“It’s a long process,” he acknowledged. “Talking to the veteran guys, they said it’s a long process. I knew battling my injury and come back healthy, I came back strong and I felt ready.”

We’ll see if it’s enough to carve out a niche on the roster. The cutdown to 75 players comes Tuesday.