Patriots training camp notes: Day 2

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Patriots training camp notes: Day 2

By Tom E. Curran, Mary Paoletti and Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Notes from Day 2 of camp:

Alfonzo Dennard appeared to suffer a hamstring injury. He left practice early and didn't return.

Matthew Slater had some kind of black brace, strapped over his shoulder and around his chest, hidden under his jersey. That's as specific a cause as I can find for that red 'No contact' jersey.

James Ihedigbo still had that 'Don't touch me' jersey on, too.

The offensive line did some mixing and matching today. Robert Gallery came in at RG and Dan Connolly went to LG. Same as Thursday, Koppen lined up at C, Solder at LT, and Cannon at RT.

Brady got picked off today. Wes Welker had space in the slot, but the pass was flat and Bobby Carpenter got his hands on it. The quarterback went 25-for-28 overall with one exceptionally pretty pass to Brandon Lloyd.

Probably not a coincidence: Carpenter continues to get reps as the starting Sam linebacker.

Receivers and cornerbacks went one-on-one at the start of camp. Good news for the defense: Malcolm Williams got good jam on Welker on one play. Good news for the offense: Julian Edelman burned Ras-I Dowling badly with a little jab in, and another out.

Rookie safety Tavon Wilson mixed in with the 1's during some of the 7-on-7 drills against the Nickel (5-defensive back) defense. Wilson was stepping in for Steve Gregory. Bobby Carpenter and Dane Fletcher both worked next to Mayo at inside linebacker in the Nickel.

The corners on the outside for the Nickel were Ras-I Dowling and Devin McCourty. Kyle Arrington kicked inside to play the "Star" position in the slot.

The week of the Super Bowl, the team's offensive staff emphasized the need to throw high over the outstretched arms of the Giants defensive line. On Friday, coaches stood with practice dummies raised above their heads -- probably reaching up to about 9 feet -- as the quarterbacks threw in 7-on-7 and 5-on-5.

With Daniel Fells still not practicing, second-year defensive end Alex Silvestro continues to take tight end reps. He isn't going to be Gronk 2.0 but he will at least give the Patriots depth at the spot given how many reps he's taken.

It was a good day for Julian Edelman. He got receiver work both inside and out, as well as plenty of return duty. Edelman looked sharp all around.

Not a good day for Marquice Cole, who struggled in coverage.

Brandon Bolden looks really, really fast. He threaded almost the entire length of the field on one return -- unscathed.

A fleet of receivers took reps fielding punts. Among them, two surprise entrants: Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez. It's unlikely that either one is a plausible option on the depth chart at that spot. The concentration during the drill was on coverage more than returns and it seemed a mish-mash of guys were being run through the spot.

Marcus Cannon looks like he's lost a good amount of weight. Ryan Mallett looks like he's firmed up. And Gerard Warren shaved his head because Big Money said he was getting too gray.

Ryan Mallett finished Friday's session 13 for 17 in combined 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.

In 7-on-7, Mallett went 8 for 10. The two incompletions came in a Will Allen break-up over the middle, and a Mike Rivera drop on a ball that was thrown behind him. Out of the eight completions, three of those went to newly-signed tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. But the biggest play Mallett made all day came on a deep completion down the left sideline, right into the hands of Donte' Stallworth.

The Patriots will practice in pads tomorrow.

Bean: The 2007 Patriots don't get nearly enough love

Bean: The 2007 Patriots don't get nearly enough love

Phil Perry has been running a series on the 2007 Patriots vs. the 2017 Patriots. He breaks everything down position-by-position and compares what should go down as two of the best teams in franchise history. It’s really good stuff. 

Also, a lot of people are idiots. 

    For some reason -- and it’s either because they’re rightfully excited for the upcoming team or because they’re still shell-shocked by 18-1 -- the 2007 Patriots have been shown a remarkable lack of love when it’s come to the reader votes. It’s insane. 

    2007 PATRIOTS vs. 2017 PATRIOTS:

    And before you start with the “This is Boston and it only counts if you win” nonsense, remember that the 2017 team hasn’t done a thing yet, so by saying the 2017 Pats are better than the 2007 Pats, you’re saying the then-greatest offense of all time is worse than a current work in progress.

    As if anyone should need the reminder, the 2007 Patriots rank as the No. 2 scoring team ever, and at the time they were No. 1. Their 36.8 points a game was dwarfed only by the 2013 Broncos, who averaged 37.9. Then again, the Patriots have four of the top 12 scoring teams ever, so there’s no reason to rule out what should be a loaded 2017 group registering high on that list as well. 

    But back to the ’07 team for a second. At the time of this writing, a poll of over 3,300 readers had 67 percent finding the 2017 receivers and tight ends being better than the group from 2007. If ever there were a poll that should be split 50-50, it’s that. In fact, I would take the 2007 group over the 2017, but that’s only because I saw Randy Moss play in every game and am not sure I will see Rob Gronkowski do the same. 

    Think about the options after the top guys in both groups. Donte’ Stallworth was a get in free agency -- a 27-year-old first-round pick with all the talent in the world and a few damn good seasons in New Orleans under his belt -- and the guy didn’t even have 50 catches for that 2007 team. No, it wasn’t because he wasn’t any good; it was because Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker were so busy putting up a combined 31 touchdowns together that there was barely time for anyone else. 

    Laurence Maroney was the ’07 team’s lead back, but given how much the team threw and the fact that he missed three games, his 835-yard season with an average of 4.5 yards a pop was a lot better than has been remembered. 

    The only thing you can give the 2017 team over the 2007 one is that they figure to be well-rounded. The Patriots’ defense should be better than that ’07 group, even though the 2007 Pats gave up the fourth-fewest points in the league. Damn, the 2007 Patriots were so good.  

    Yes, that ’07 team lost, but it was still the best team in the league by a mile that season. Bad Super Bowl game plan, bad execution, obviously. But overall? There wasn’t a team close to as good as them that season. 

    The expectation is that something similar could play out this season. The Pats are so much better than everyone else that you’d be nuts to rule out 19-0 talk. Yet that hasn’t happened yet, and for now, the most explosive offense the Pats have ever seen — and very well may ever see — will be that 2007 one. They aren’t held in the same regard as the five championships, and for good reason, but to slight that offense — or really that team at all — is foolish. 

    Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

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    Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

    Five-time Super Bowl champions. Seven-time AFC champs. Fourteen-time AFC East champs. Now, Bill Belichick's Patriots have another title.

    NFL's most "badass" team.

    The Tampa Bay Times polled a panel of 43 NFL writers and asked them for the top three most "badass" teams and players in the NFL.

    MORE PATRIOTS

    The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came out on top with 29 top-three votes. 

    Here's a sampling of the panelists' comments:

    "They keep winning in a league designed to discourage dynasties." -Terez A. Paylor, Kansas City Star

    "Hands down. They take a three-touchdown lead and keep throwing, and throwing, and don't give a damn what anybody thinks." -Tyler Dunne, Bleacher Report

    "For a decade they've been toying with and laughing at the rest of the league. The biggest bullies on the block." — Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

    "Behind the glitz and glamour of having the game's greatest quarterback, the Patriots ranked among the league's top 10 scoring defenses each of the past five seasons, including No. 1 in 2016." — Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press-Gazette

    The most badass player? Veteran Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The highest-ranked Patriot on the list? Tom Brady at No. 6. Rob Gronkowski was tied with Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 8. Julian Edelman was among the others receiving votes. 

    Here are the full rankings: 

    MOST BADASS TEAM 

    1. Patriots (29 votes)

    2. Seahawks (27)

    3. Steelers (18)

    4. Raiders (9)

    5. Ravens (8)

    6t. Broncos (6)

    6t. Cowboys (6)

    8. Bengals (4)

    9t. Cardinals (2)

    9t. Packers (2)

    9t. Panthers (2)

    9t. Texans (2)

    Also receiving votes: Chiefs, Falcons, Rams, Titans (1 each)

    MOST BADASS PLAYER

    1. James Harrison, Steelers LB (14 votes)

    2t. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB (10)

    2t. J.J. Watt, Texans DE (10)

    4t. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks S (8)

    4t. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins DT (8)

    6. Tom Brady, Patriots QB (7)

    7. Von Miller, Broncos LB (6)

    8t. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (5)

    8t. Khalil Mack, Raiders LB (5)

    10. Aaron Donald, Rams DT (4)