FOXBORO -- The Patriots had a full squad for all but one player Friday: Shane Vereen.
A foot injury forced the running out of New England's August 24 game in Tampa. He hasn't practiced since.
New England practiced in shorts and shells under a hot September sun. Tomorrow, the team travels to Nashville for its Week 1 tilt against the Titans.
FOXBORO -- The tweets stacked up on your timeline right around 12:30 this afternoon. Jimmy Garoppolo threw two interceptions -- again.
What the 140 characters didn’t tell you was how they happened, or why.
The first was a wounded duck that had very little chance of success, save for the fact that Justin Coleman completely impeded Chris Hogan’s ability to compete for the ball (read: defensive pass interference). Safety Jordan Richards poached the ball as it fluttered to earth and the media tent started chirping.
The second came two throws later. Garoppolo zipped a ball to the back hip/shoulder of Devin Lucien in the end zone. Lucien initially had it, but a diving Eric Rowe ripped it from his hands for Rowe’s second pick of Garoppolo in two days.
“Whenever you throw an interception, whether it’s your testing someone out and giving a guy a chance, you never want to throw an int in the first place,” said Garoppolo after practice today.
Those INTs came on the heels of two interceptions yesterday. The first -- snagged by Richards -- was almost certainly a ball Garoppolo would never have thrown in a real game. That's a point that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have hammered over and over in the last 17 years, that these day in late July and August, are a time for testing both yourself and your teammates.
“You always try to do the right thing in practice, but practice is also that time, especially in training camp,” noted Garoppolo, “ to try to give an opportunity to who you maybe wouldn’t in the regular season. It’s a time to gain trust in your teammates and give a guy an opportunity.”
Lucien had that opportunity today and had it wrestled away from him. Note taken and file saved. Maybe next time, Garoppolo -- or Brady, or Jacoby Brissett -- go a different direction. Or they hammer the point home.
FOXBORO -- Kony Ealy readily admitted that his absence from Thursday's practice was not injury-related. He did not, however, say what it was related to.
"You have to ask Coach Bill," Ealy said. "Me and him had something going or whatever."
Ealy appeared to participate regularly during Friday's shells-and-shorts session. It was the first time he was spotted by reporters on the field with his teammates since he walked off the field during a June 8 workout behind Gillette Stadium.
When asked if his latest absence was related to his absence from portions of spring camps, Ealy said he couldn't remember what held him out in the spring. He explained that he was OK with missing Thursday's work because, well, what else was he going to say?
"Of course," Ealy said. "Am I going to go against what Coach Belichick says? No. At the end of the day, my job is to come here and do everything I need to do for the team and do the right things on and off the field."
Though Ealy indicated that he felt the communication along the defensive line was coming along well, he'll have plenty of work to do as he embarks on his first training camp in New England.
"Even if I was out yesterday, I was out getting individual reps," he said. "In my mind, I'm just picturing myself in those positions, those spots, just going over the call, studying, reviewing, so you never stop working."