Postcards from Patriots camp: Day 11

Postcards from Patriots camp: Day 11
August 7, 2013, 7:45 pm
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(AP Photo)

PHILADELPHIA - Day 2 of practice between the Patriots and Eagles. The session was moved up to 10 a.m. due to looming weather in the area which hit basically as the session ended around 12:30 p.m. With two practices under their belts, the two teams will get together again on Thursday before the preseason opener on Friday night, which could be played in a deluge.  

WEATHER
Cloudy and dank with temperatures in the low 70s.
 
WHAT THEY WORE
Full pads once again.
 
WHO WASN’T THERE
Ras-I Dowling, Jermaine Cunningham, Michael Jenkins, Mark Harrison, Nate Ebner, Brandon Ford, Marcus Cannon, Dan Connolly, Marcus Zusevics, Tyronne Greene, Kevin Haslam, Armond Armstead and Rob Gronkowski.
 
WHAT THEY DID
Jog-paced work the Patriots do at the start of practice was followed by stretching and flexbilities. Positional work by the Patriots and Eagles on their own was done before the two sides got together and immediately launched into 1-on-1 work with defensive and offensive linemen for the Patriots and their Eagles counterparts on the far field from where I was posted up. The Eagles offense went against the Patriots D on the middle field and the Patriots O went against Philly’s defense on the field in front of my very eyes. The preponderance of those reps for the skill players were red zone reps. Next up, punt returns and coverage with both teams taking time to rep that out. That was followed by 7-on-7 skill player reps with offensive and defensive linemen playing against their teammates. After more special teams, an hour’s worth of 11-on-11 with a lot of hurry-up action before the close of practice.
 
WHO'S HOT
Josh Boyce: If the ball hits his hands, it sticks. Most of the time. And he’s very adept at making the difficult catch look smooth with his superior body control.
 
Brandon Spikes: Forced a fumble by Eagles running back Chris Polk and has been on the field and good to go with the 1s throughout the two practices.

WHO’S NOT
Tavon Wilson: Seems like he’s fading a bit behind Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory and even rookie Duron Harmon.
 
Jake Ballard: I think it’s highly unlikely he doesn’t make the team but even walking you can detect a limp from the big kid.
 
WHAT WE SAW
The Eagles defensive backs, strafed on Tuesday by Tom Brady fared much better in 1-on-1s on Wednesday. While Brady still had some success, the Eagles came with much more aggressiveness on Wednesday and did a better job jamming up some of the Patriots wideouts, Aaron Dobson in particular.  
 
Zoltan Mesko continues to hit the ball well and he has to since rookie Ryan Allen is pushing Mesko with his own powerful leg.
 
There was a juncture early in practice when both Dobson and Josh Boyce were down and being checked by trainers. Both got back on the field soon after so it was really just upkeep.
 
Zach Sudfeld had two drops on Wednesday but he also made a couple of remarkable catches, including one where he redirected a red zone bullet to himself and hauled it in while tapping his toes to stay in bounds.
 
Sudfeld continues to run with the 1s most of the time while Jake Ballard is almost always with the 2s at the tight end spot. There is a little deployment difference there in that Sudfeld is going to be on the field more often as a move tight end and Ballard will be on in two tight-end sets.
 
Aqib Talib was by far the most rambunctious Patriot, going a little overboard while blocking a gunner on punt return and being extremely vocal on the sidelines while the Patriots offense was on the field.
 
In the Patriots’ hurry-up 11-on-11 periods, Dobson, Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins really shone. At one point, Brady hit Dobson and Thompkins on consecutive deep balls. Dobson frequently used his length to exploit defensive backs. He actually reminds me vaguely of Plaxico Burress right now, more than Randy Moss in the way he uses his height.
 
Will Svitek is still working at right guard with Marcus Cannon and Dan Connolly down.
 
With Alfonzo Dennard’s reps limited, the Patriots rolled with Kyle Arrington on the outside and Marquice Cole in the slot.
 
Brandon Spikes forced a Chris Polk fumble in 11-on-11s.
 
WHAT THEY SAID
“We told them what the situation was. It's either practice now or risk practicing in lightning, and we're not going to do that, so let’s make a change and get out there and get it done. Nobody said anything. They want to go to work and they want to compete. This is what they trained all offseason for: to play football. So now is our chance to do it and we’re all excited for the opportunity.” – Bill Belichick on how his players reacted to the practice change.