Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 19


Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 19

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski missed his second practice and Aaron Hernandez missed his first on Sunday. Brandon Lloyd was also sidelined for Day 19 of training camp, instead joining the rehab group in shorts and a t-shirt.
I'll say it now before you start to panic: There is nothing serious to worry about with any of the trio as far as we know.
So let's get on to the rest of practice.
WEATHERIn the sun? Hotter than hell. The temperature had to be mid-80s and you could feel every degree. But when clouds rolled through it was okay because the humidity wasn't out of control.
WHAT THEY WOREBack to full pads.
WHAT THEY DIDA lot of walkthrough to start. A lot. And Mallet took several of the QB snaps.
2:00-2:09: Basic running, dynamic running, team stretches.
2:09-2:15: Stretching in position groups.
2:15-2:32: Drills. For the secondary, more time was spent working on their drop and catching a ball thrown high. Josh Barrett did some pushups after one pass went through his hands.
2:32-2:36: 1-on-1s. A few noteworthy moments: Tom Brady threw a bad ball to Jabar Gaffney that had no chance. Devin McCourty got the best of Julian Edelman. Marquice Cole, who hasn't impressed much this camp, had great route recognition against Jeremy Ebert to break up the play. McCourty also bothered Edelman enough to cause an incompletion. Edelman came back and made Sterling Moore look foolish his next time out. Mallett threw an awful, awful pass to Jesse Holley who could have beaten Ross Ventrone. Kyle Arrington got Donte' Stallworth around the neck for blatant pass interference.
2:36-2:58: 11-on-11; 2-minute drill.
2:58-3:03: Special teams practiced blocking on punt return.
3:03-3:04: The barrel came out -- finally. Brady, Brian Hoyer, and Mallett tried their luck from about 30-yards out on the right hashmark. None of the three quarterbacks hit. In fact, Josh McDaniels got closest when he hit the front of the barrel.
3:06-3:25: 1-on-1s: O-line vs. D-line. Elsewhere, 7-on-7.
3:30-3:33: "Tackling!" somebody shouted. Your highlights: Matthew Slater got absolutely horse collared by Rob Ninkovich. Justin Francis gave Brandon Bolden the what-for. Welker was far too fast for Dont'a Hightower. Bobby Carpenter looked tough against everybody he faced.
3:33-3:42: More punts, where players worked on line calls. Ebert had an issue somewhere and muffed one. Slater was there for the recovery. Deion Branch, Edelman, and Welker each went back to receive.
3:42-3:48: More 11-on-11.
3:48-3:50: Chris Koepplin got to practice some field goals. One, he dropped dead-center from 55-yards out.
WHAT WE SAWFunny to see the Hernandez ride a bike with the ball tucked under his arm while the rest of the team stretched and ran.
Others who did not practice: Spencer Larsen, Eric Kettani, Daniel Fells, Sebastian Vollmer, Kyle Hix, Alfonzo Dennard, Visanthe Shiancoe, James Ihedigbo, Markus Zusevics, Tracy White, Gerard Warren, Jonathan Fanene, Malcolm Williams, Myron Pryor, Dane Fletcher and Britt Davis (both waived today). Jake Ballard remains out and Brian Waters still hasn't reported.
Logan Mankins was in light pads (today was the last day before he can suit up completely).
Dan Koppen started with the 1s at center.
Stephen Gostkowski was doing handstands at the beginning of practice. Nothing to add to that. Just odd.
No injuries to report, but keep an eye on Julian Edelman and Dont'a Hightower. Edelman came off the field during 11-on-11 and had a trainer attend to his right wrist or hand. The receiver waited a while before putting his glove back on, but did rejoin the drills after a few minutes. Hightower laid on his back during the second hour of practice and got his right ankle taped.
Mallett was moving at a glacial pace during the 2-minute drill. He would have gotten rocked by a Trevor Scott sack on one play and had to throw the ball away. On the next snap, Shane Vereen showcased his speed on a nice shallow crossing route.
Justin Francis and Jake Bequette did a lap. Stevan Ridley and Brian Hoyer both had to run after fumbling a handoff.
Ridley continues to get the stuffing knocked out of him. Jerod Mayo blitzed on one play and just crushed the running back.
Ridley got some revenge on the defense during red zone drills when he beat Dont'a Hightower in the flat and made it in for a touchdown.
WHO'S HOTI'll say Alex Silvestro just because he had his best offensive day of camp. During 11-on-11, the DE-turned-TE jumped over Nate Ebner to make a nice catch on a Brady ball up the seam. The QB was so excited he hugged Silvestro.
Deion Branch also looks to be moving back into good favor in the passing game. Branch got more reps with the 1s today. During red zone 11-on-11 he got over McCourty in the back of the end zone for a TD.
Yesterday I mentioned Mayo for his on-field leadership. Today, I'll keep him under this heading for his play. He created problems for the run whenever he got the chance and had one particularly decisive stuff on Danny Woodhead.
WHO'S NOTKyle Arrington. Yes, he's been working a lot against Welker in the slot, which will make a lot of guys look bad. But he also dropped an easy interception that was thrown right to him. Today is not the first day he's looked un-Arrington like. The one nice play I saw was during 7-on-7 when he bothered Welker enough for an incomplete between the receiver and Brady.
Julian Edelman had two dropped passes and a pass interference penalty. It wasn't all bad; Edelman's just been so good that it's worth noting when he's off.
The offensive line looked leaky at times. Woodhead got stuffed by Ninkovich during red zonegoal line practice and Jeff Tarpinian took advantage of Koppen's ineffectiveness to blow up a screen on the line of scrimmage.
WHAT THEY SAID"Not really. You just have to know everything." -- Nick McDonald on if playing all five spots on the offensive line is challenging.

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

Randy Moss: Roger Goodell is 'biggest reason' for NFL's problems

With the NFL facing more PR issues by the day, Randy Moss has identified what he feels is wrong with a league that can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

In wake of the Josh Brown situation, which saw the NFL blame the King County (Wash.) Sheriff’s Office for the lack of initial punishment given to the Giants kicker for domestic violence, Moss said on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown that commissioner Roger Goodell is the league’s biggest problem. 

“[This is] a bad time to show up now, breast cancer awareness month where we’re supporting the women, and then you come up with this Josh Brown, where it doesn’t seem like we are supporting women,” Moss said. “I think the NFL needs to take a deep look. I think the owners are mad, and Roger Goodell, he is the biggest reason to all of this stuff that’s fallen downhill with the NFL. I have to agree with that.”

Brown was initially given a one-game suspension for violating the league’s conduct policy stemming from his 2015 fourth-degree domestic violence charge. On Friday, the 37-year-old was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. 

Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett


Steelers know they'll have their hands full with Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett

PITTSBURGH – So far this season, Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski have combined for 39 catches, 644 yards and five touchdowns. Making the numbers that much more impressive is the fact the numbers were rolled up with Gronk inactive for two games and fairly useless in another thanks to his hamstring injury.

Will the Steelers slow the roll of Robellus Grennetski?

Hard to imagine. As Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, Gronk alone has tuned up the Steelers with 26 receptions for 403 yards and seven touchdowns in six meetings.

Fittipaldo explored the strategies the Steelers defense may unveil Sunday afternoon when the Patriots and Steelers get going. He also pointed out that the return of linebacker Ryan Shazier after a three week layoff and injuries for safeties Mike Mitchell and Robert Golden may put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage.

Said Shazier: “They have the tandem they want at tight end. Now they can use tight ends the way they want. You have to respect everyone on the field. Both of them are good blockers, good pass threats and great at running after the catch.”

Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler said Pittsburgh will alter its approaches.

“We have to be able to play more than one defense,” Butler said. “They’re very good and they’ll pick you apart if they can figure out what you’re doing. We just have to execute the defense more than anything else. If we can do that … that’s been our problem for the most part. Some of the things that went on last week, we missed some things we should have made mentally.”

What “went on last week” was a 30-15 loss to the Dolphins.

Pittsburgh hasn’t been a big-play group so far -- eight sacks and three picks -- nor have they seen a gauntlet of great quarterbacks in the first six games. 

Interestingly, their losses have been to Ryan Tannehill and rookie Carson Wentz, probably the two quarterbacks one would figure Pittsburgh would do best against.
Between a smoking hot Brady and a can’t-be-stopped tight end tandem, there’s probably not a lot Pittsburgh can do aside from hoping for an off day.

Said linebacker Arthur Moats hopefully: “You have to continue to mix it up against (Gronkowski). You can’t give him the same look over and over. He has success on guys like that. If we disrupt him, and rush Brady and speed up his clock, I definitely think that will help out.”

In theory, perhaps. In practice? We’ll see.