Postcard from Patriots Camp: Day 16

Postcard from Patriots Camp: Day 16
August 12, 2013, 6:15 pm

FOXBORO -- Patriots were back at practice on Monday after an off-day Sunday following their first preseason exhibition game down in Philadelphia Friday night. There was somewhat of a laid-back feel at today's workout, but expect that to change starting tomorrow with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in town for a series of joint practices this week.

Sunny and in the mid-80s for most of the practice. Only partly cloudy. Nice day to throw the ball around.
Players were in shorts and shells today. Devin McCourty and all three quarterbacks wore red non-contact jerseys. Rob Gronkowski showed up as a spectator at the beginning of practice. He was sporting a t-shirt, shorts and a Patriots baseball cap.
Gronk, as I mentioned, was there only to watch. Same for receiver Mark Harrison. Marcus Cannon, Jason Vega, Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead were all missing.

Alfonzo Dennard, Ras-I Dowling, Michael Jenkins and Dan Connolly were all spotted in shorts and shells but were limited.

Markus Zusevics and James Develin were both back on the field and participating, as was Ryan Mallett, who took a hard hit in Philly and left the game early with a head injury. He looked no worse for the wear on Monday.
Practice started as it normally does with 11 on 11 work at half speed. After dynamic stretching and calisthenics Patriots players broke off into offensive and defensive groupings.

Quarterbacks worked on rolling out of the pocket while trying to hit their receivers in stride, while defensive players cycled through various stations, including a strip-sack station and a two-on-one pursuit station.

Wide receivers worked on their concentration by catching balls thrown in between large tackling dummies. Cornerbacks worked to intercept passes thrown at point-blank range to simulate comeback routes.

Wideouts and corners eventually got together where the wide receivers worked on getting off of the line and away from the reach of the opposing corner. Quarterbacks and receivers later tried out some option routes.

On the adjacent practice field defensive line worked on making sure they were in their correct gaps as Patriots offensive players worked on their noncontact 11 on 11 run plays.

Then came 11-on-11 work, offense versus defense. The kick off and kickoff return teams got some work in as well.

At around 3:30 there were seven-on-seven plays run strictly in the red zone. That was followed by goal-line and hurry-up work. Steven Gostkowski came on to kick a few field goals and practice ended with the first-, second- and third-team offenses running the hurry-up offense. Bill Belichick paid close attention to Tim Tebow running the third team while the rest of the patriots waited for them to finish up.

*Daniel Fells caught just about everything thrown his way on Monday. Whether it was Tom Brady or Ryan Mallett, Fells looked like the tight end du jour.

*Danny Amendola may have had the most impressive catch of the day, though he may have made it harder than it should've been. A fairly accurately thrown ball by Tom Brady was batted around three times by Amendola before he snatched it out of the air, much to Devin McCourty's dismay.

*After a not so hot performance in Philly, Stephen Gostkowski was very accurate kicking field goals at the end of practice. He was just 1-for-3 on Friday.
*There were a ton of drops on Monday. Brandon Bolden, Kamar Aiken, Kenbrell Thompkins and James Devlin all were guilty. Aqib Talib dropped a sure interception when Mallett tried to squeeze a pass into Julian Edelman during red zone work.
*Brady and Amendola continued to show tremendous chemistry out on the field on Monday. Brady hit him on a series of long crossing routes and connected with him once deep down the left sideline with McCourty in coverage. Brady was audibly upset at himself when he missed No. 80 in the back of the end zone wide open, but that seemed to be their only mistake of the day.

* During 11-on-11 work, Amendola and Edelman lined up on the same side of formations at different points. Though the two receivers seem to have similar body types and similar skill sets, it appears as though the Patriots are not afraid to use both simultaneously in certain offensive sets.

* The Patriots are not very deep at defensive tackle. Marcus Forston is one of two rookie defensive tackles – along with Cory Grissom – who are vying for backup roles. What may help Forston is that he has gotten work with the kickoff return team as a wedge blocker. At 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, if he has the quickness and the ability to grasp what coach Scott O'Brien teaches him, he could be punishing in that role.

* Mallett appeared to be fine after sustaining a head injury in Friday's preseason game. He was not perfectly accurate – he overthrew a wide-open Fells for a long gain – but he there appeared to be no lingering effects from the hit he took in Philadelphia.

* Much of the same from Tim Tebow today. He was slow at times to get rid of the ball, but when he had a receiver in mind when the ball was snapped and made a quick decision on short throws, he was accurate. He hit Leon Washington and Quentin Sims on nice-looking quick-hitters.

* With the Patriots depth at cornerback strained, McCourty got reps at cornerback once again. Though much harder for defenders to do their job without pads, Marquice Cole seemed to have a difficult time staying with some of the Patriots' top receivers.
“I think these next couple of weeks are big evaluation times for them. The first week is always good to see but at the same time, we all learn the first time we do something, how to do it better the next time hopefully. We’ll see if that’s the case going forward here the next couple weeks with our younger guys, or guys who are in their first year in our system." - Belichick on the importance of this week for some of his younger players.