Patriots training camp notes: Day 4

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Patriots training camp notes: Day 4

Last day of practice before the Patriots get a day off. You can get your fill of the action right here.
No Tracy White (undisclosed injury) and no Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring) for Sunday's session.
Pepper Johnson kept a close eye on Brandon Spikes yet again.
OL Jamey Richard left practice with a concussion, as confirmed by Curran. Richard took a wobbly walk over to the sideline and conferred with a trainer before leaving the field.
Blitz pickup (1-on-1's between LB's and RBFB) got a little heated. Stevan Ridley tried to get tough with Jerod Mayo on one rep, but the veteran took exception and shoved Ridley. On the same drill, Bobby Carpenter dispatched Spencer Larsen, Dan Fletcher just wrecked Ridley, and Danny Woodhead handled Tony Fiammetta. Shane Vereen stood strong on more than one run through.
Ivan Fears might have gotten the worst of it on that drill whenDont'a Hightower bullrushed Eric Kettani, hooked his facemask and launched him into the running backs coach. Fears went toppling to the ground. Words were exchanged.
More laps: Today Trevor Scott, Jermaine Cunningham, Ryan Mallett, and Robert Gallery had to take half-hearted punishment runs.
Sebastian Vollmer made a cameo, walking in a cutoff tee-shirt to auxiliary field for rehab work. He was seen for all of the time it takes an offensive lineman with a wonky back to cover about 130 yards.
Rob Gronkowski missed three passes today. It goes without saying this is unusual. On one play, a Tom Brady ball traveled right down the pipe but bobbled between Gronkowski's hands. Patrick Chung came up with the bouncing interception.
Noticed rookie defensive end Justin Francis having a long conversation on the sideline with Gerard Warren. Both were miming different D-line technique during the chat. Considering Warren is entering his 12th NFL season, Francis is probably thrilled to have such a resource.
Brady flashed his sense of humor during 11-on-11s. The quarterback led a reverse on one play and when he ran into the open field, he beckoned safety Patrick Chung with his index finger to come at him. Brady is lucky Chung knew he was kidding; that fight would not be an even matchup.
Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien was sentenced to speak with the media on Sunday. "I think any time youre a ball handler, one of the hardest things to do is to catch punts. Its not only a great drill for any receiver, as well as punt returners, to focus in on trying to catch a ball that normally is tougher to catch than a quarterback throwing you a ball."
O'Brien also addressed the work of Jeff Tarpinian, and undrafted rookie in 2011 who made the team based in large part on his special teams work. "Jeff came in from the University of Iowa (and) had a little bit of experience for some of the things we did. For example, like punt protection where we got to watch him play the left tackle at Iowa; similar footwork and rules and that kind of stuff that we use. Had the mentality we were looking for, had the physical skills that gave him a chance that we were looking for. He came in and worked hard and showed improvement and got better and it worked out where were able to keep him and then eventually got him an opportunity to play." Tarpinian has competed well throughout the camp when I've focused on him both on special teams and in some of the linebacker drills.
When Patrick Chung went down last season, Danny Woodhead stepped in as the personal protector right in front of Zoltan Mesko on punts. The reason? "Hes had some experience doing it before," said O'Brien. "You always like the threat of any type of skill guy to handle the ball. You like the speed element he brings out of the middle of the field in coverage. I can tell you this you never have enough of them. You try to train as many guys as you can because we all know from week to week, some guys you have, some guys you dont. Thats one position, you have to have enough guys and Danny stepped up and did a really good job."
There's no practice Monday and no public access to Gillette so you can scratch that off the "keep kids entertained tomorrow" list.

NFL scout on Garoppolo: 'Bill thinks he's got the next great one'

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NFL scout on Garoppolo: 'Bill thinks he's got the next great one'

Covering the NFL for almost 20 years allows you to make relationships with a bunch of people. So I thought I'd tap into some of those people as we gear up for New England Patriots training camp for a series of pieces about topics we've been kicking around.

COMPARING THE 2007 AND 2017 PATRIOTS

The panel consists of one former Pats player still in the game, two scouts of AFC teams, one front-office member in the AFC, and one NFC scout. They all requested anonymity for obvious reasons (as the player said, "hey, I might want to end up back there!") I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had talking to these guys.

Today's topic: Why is Jimmy Garoppolo still here?

Scout 1 (AFC) -- "He's Bill Belichick. He doesn't give a [damn] about what you, or me or anyone else thinks. I know teams called about Garoppolo. I don't believe they were ever given a realistic price. Why? To me, the answer is simple: Bill thinks he's got the next great one. I watched his snaps. I think he can be that. [Garoppolo] has a great base, and his mechanics are close enough to [Brady] that you appreciate his willingness to learn and the coaching he's gotten there."

Scout 2 (AFC) -- "I absolutely loved the kid coming out of college. When we interviewed him, [it was obvious] he's got those qualities you want in a QB, as a leader. I begged our guys to take him at the end of the first round. That's how good I thought he was then. He's a hell of a lot better now. The job Bill and [offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels] have done with him, the work he clearly has put in, wrap all that up and it makes all the sense in the world to keep him. They can win with him. That's all you need to know -- in my opinion -- as to why they kept him. The moment that Brady guy starts to show cracks, the next guy is in already there, already knows the locker room, the system, the environment. I think it's genius."

Former Pats player -- "I played against him every day in practice. He's all that." Why? "He can make all the throws. He can process all the information. He is a gamer. He can slow it down. He can spin it. I'm going tell you this, if he had gotten traded to Cleveland, they're a borderline playoff team. I really believe that."

Scout 3 (NFC) -- "I know teams called and got nowhere. Easy conclusion is they see Garoppolo as the next QB. But I think it could be as simple as the value there. He's the player one snap away. Weigh that against the third guy (Jacoby Brissett) or some vet and maybe it was just too wide a gap to risk it. Keep him. See how the year plays out and then decide, do we want to franchise him? Ink him to some kind of bridge deal? Or let him go off into free agency?"

Front Office (AFC) -- "Bill knows something we don't. That's the way I read it. Whether it's Brady's future, or what they didn't see in Brissett, or something about the makeup of Garoppolo, he just couldn't part company with him. I can't say as I blame him. Finding one good QB in this league is hard enough. Two? Maybe only a handful of teams in the league can say they have that. Plus, with Bill, he's not worried about coaching for his job. He can think big picture -- two, three, four years down the line. That's not something too many other coaches/front offices in this environment get. He can afford to pass on a handful of draft picks to keep a player he really likes."