FOXBORO -- New England and Tampa Bay completed their second of three joint practice sessions on Wednesday. The day was relatively run of the mill for the first hour and 18 minutes. Why such precise timing on the shift? That's when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hit the deck. Buccaneers defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn bull rushed left tackle Nate Solder, who fell back into Brady's legs.
Just like that, the story of the day was decided.
But somehow life went on, practice resumed, and the teams worked for another hour.
The sun we missed Tuesday came back out today for a gorgeous afternoon in Foxboro. Temperatures hovered around the mid-70's and a soft but steady breeze took all the bite out of the heat.
WHAT THEY WORE
Not much of a change from yesterday: Full pads, yet again, with Tampa Bay wearing white and New England back in blue. McCourty is still the only one in that red non-contact jersey.
WHO WASN’T THERE
Patriots tight end Daniel Fells, who suffered an unknown injury Tuesday. Linebacker Brandon Spikes returned after missing yesterday's session. Receiver Mark Harrison, offensive lineman Tyronne Green, and defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham Armond Armstead are still out. Rob Gronkowski sauntered out mid-session in shorts and a t-shirt, per usual. Defensive backs Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling were limited.
NEWS OF NOTE
Brady stole the headlines. All of them. But otherwise...
Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow were forced to step up with Mallett running the first-team offense. (Yes, I write this even though Bill Belichick said: "There’s no first team. We just, we work a lot of people together in different combinations. There’s no first team, at least none that I’m aware of.")
Tebow had a few nice throws and a few awful ones. One was a touchdown ball Julian Edelman bobbled before pulling down. Mallett was also up and down. He connected with tight end Zach Sudfeld for six points, but offensive pass interference wiped out the play. Tampa Bay linebacker Mason Foster got the better of him once for a red-zone interception.
WHAT THEY DID
The day began as it always does for New England, with running, dynamic stretching, position drills, and 1-on-1's. Tampa did an interesting fumble-recovery exercise in its warmups. We also saw a lot of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 between the two teams in this round.
Marquice Cole: The veteran corner got more snaps thanks to Dennard and Dowling being limited, and he's made the most of them. Cole had three knock-downs and an interception of Josh Freeman during 7-on-7.
Aqib Talib: (All DB's today!) He jammed Vincent Jackson at the line during 1-on-1's and ended up with a pick-6 of Josh Freeman. Solid move, considering Jackson has almost an almost half-foot height advantage.
Kenbrell Thompkins: The kid is just flat-out impressive. If he needs to get vertical to make a play, he can do it.
Aqib Talib: It feels wrong to give him props without telling the rest of the story. Talib's interception only came after Jackson made him look foolish in an earlier meeting.
Zoltan Mesko and Ryan Allen: It's not often you see a pair of punters make this list, but these two found their way. The expected starter, Mesko, screwed up a snap with Danny Aiken. Allen had a boot blocked by Tampa.
Nate Solder: Maybe this designation isn't fair. But when Tom Brady hit the grass, he didn't take his eyes off Solder. "You know, I screwed some things up here and there and will work to improve it," the tackle said.
WHAT WE SAW
--Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, still rehabbing a surgically-repaired knee, scaled back his participation completely. He came out in shorts later in the day and watched practice from the sideline.
-- Vince Wilfork was on the stationary bike at the beginning of the session. He later rejoined his teammates for position drills.
-- Logan Ryan looked sharp on an interception of Tampa QB Josh Freeman. I've been hard on Ryan in the past, so it was good to see.
-- The Brady Panic escalated after practice when a black helicopter landed on the lower practice field. Was it an air medical service for the quarterback? Was someone arriving? The suspense was unexpected, if not a little silly. Turns out, the chopper was team owner Robert Kraft's ride home.
WHAT THEY SAID
"Is this an interview or an interrogation?" – Tampa Bay DL Adrian Clayborn, after being hounded about the play Tom Brady was injured on.