FOXBORO -- Tom Brady was back at practice after spraining his knee in yesterday's joint session. New England's final workout with the Buccaneers was a low-intensity affair run mostly as a walk-through. Still, it's worth noting the Patriots quarterback didn't seem bothered by the black brace he wore on that tweaked left knee.
Whether or not he plays in tomorrow's preseason game is another story entirely.
There wasn't much wind today so the sun felt like it was packing more than its 75-degree temperature. A few puffy clouds provided intermittent shade.
WHAT THEY WORE
Both teams donned shorts and shells for their third of three joint practices. Tampa Bay was wearing white and New England was again in blue. Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty is still in a red non-contact jersey despite having full participation. It seems he's actually taking advantage of the shirt, inviting contact he knows he won't receive by playing aggressively.
WHO WASN’T THERE
The usual suspects -- Patriots tight end Daniel Fells, receiver Mark Harrison, and defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead -- remain out. Offensive lineman Tyronne Green has been MIA, but that mystery was solved when the Patriots placed him on the injured reserve list this afternoon. Rob Gronkowski wasn't the only one to join his teammates late to watch from the sidelines, as Armstead joined him. Cornerback Ras-I Dowling is still limited.
NEWS OF NOTE
We have to start with Brady. The QB dove right into Thursday's session, running with the team and testing that knee with both forward and lateral motion.
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 teams did their own warmups for over half an hour before mixing it up. And where did they dive in? Half-speed onside kicks! Thrilling stuff.
Players, including Tampa's Wednesday absentee Darrelle Revis, then broke up into position groups.
The teams then worked together in 7-on-7 drills.
Punter Ryan Allen continued to make Zoltan Mesko squirm by coming in for special teams work (a lot of coverage) that lasted until around 3:10 p.m.
All three Patriots quarterbacks got their reps in on 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
Tom Brady. Hey. It counts. It's hard to look bad during a walk-through, but we'll give Brady the nod for not missing any time.
Tyronne Green. The guard was getting a lot of reps when Dan Connolly and Marcus Cannon were fighting injuries. But he suffered his own injury August 2 and slowly rolled downhill toward this afternoon's IR designation.
The pair that got cut: OL Kevin Haslam, WR Michael Jenkins.
WHAT WE SAW
* Danny Amendola had a slow start to a slow day. When the quarterbacks and receivers practiced routes on air, Amendola missed three straight balls from two different passers. He did shake it off quickly enough by connecting with Brady during 7-on-7.
* Cannon spent some time on the bike today. He was not active for last week's preseason game in Philadelphia.
* Dowling did some solo running on the lower practice field for a while today. Will he ever be healthy?
* Belichick has said New England was forced into its nickel defense for more than 50-percent of the snaps last year. They've practiced it quite a bit lately and did today against Tampa.
* Rookie receiver Quentin Sims had another nice day. One particularly impressive catch was a high Tebow pass over the middle he went up and managed to haul in. The fact Tebow waited far too long to throw, likely nixing the play in a game situation, is irrelevant. Right?
WHAT THEY SAID
"He's a tough guy. He didn't make a big deal about it." – Patriots left tackle Nate Solder, the player who got bull rushed into Brady's knee on Wednesday.