Postcard from Patriots camp: Day 2

Postcard from Patriots camp: Day 2
July 27, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Day 2 at Patriots training camp felt more like training camp. It was sunny, hot, the bleachers at the Gillette Stadium practice fields were packed, and quarterback Tom Brady let out a couple of frustration-induced, blood-curdling screams. Ah, training camp.

The Pats took the field at 9:00 a.m. and were finished by 11:15 a.m.

Couldn't have asked for a better day in Foxboro. The Patriots had bright sun, and temperatures that hovered in mid-70s. It was a welcome change after Friday's rainy mess.

Everyone was back in shells and shorts on Saturday. The quarterbacks -- that's Brady, Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow for the uninitiated -- were in red non-contact jerseys. Devin McCourty was also sporting a red jersey but did not appear to be limited in the session. Coach Bill Belichick said that the team would be wearing full pads for the first time on Sunday.

Receivers Julian Edelman and Mark Harrison, offensive lineman Nick McDonald, defensive linemen Cory Grisson and Armond Armstead, and tight end Rob Gronkowski were all missing from practice. Gronkowski, who is on the physically unable to perform list, watched a portion of Saturday's camp session from the sidelines in a t-shirt and shorts.


* Things started off the same way they did on Friday, with 11-on-11, non-contact work.

* Eleven-on-Eleven work was followed by 10 minutes of stretching, in which coaches Dante Scarnecchia and Pepper Johnson participated. Players finished warming up with their positional groupings.

* Defensive backs and defensive linemen worked on pursuing quarterbacks and stripping the ball loose.

* Remember those raquetball raquets that got so much attention last season before the Patriots played JJ Watt and the Texans? They were out again for the second straight day. Early in the practice they were waived in front of receivers faces as they tried to catch passes in a concentration drill.

* Linebackers worked on dropping into coverage while safeties practiced catching passes at their highest point.

* Special teams work came next. On Saturday this consisted of almost exclusively punt team drills. No field goals were attempted nor kickoffs made from what I could see.

* Seven-on-seven work was followed by a ball-security drill, in which Tebow participated with the backs and tight ends.

* After more seven-on-seven action, the Patriots went 11-on-11 and then finished by going 11-on-11 in hurry-up mode.

* Aaron Dobson: The 6-foot-3 second-round pick out of Marshall was the day's most impressive receiver. He made two very difficult plays on the sideline for Brady, going up and over Aqib Talib for one and running past Kyle Arrington for the other. Dobson's size, hands and ability to catch passes at their highest point seem to be already fairly advanced. Whether his footwork will be good enough when the Patriots wear pads and defensive backs begin to jam at the line will be interesting to watch. Regardless, he is an impressive athlete and certainly flashed abilities that could make him a productive outside-the-numbers receiver.

* Alfonzo Dennard: The second-year corner picked off one Brady pass deep down the field intended for Josh Boyce and broke up at least two others. With his ball-hawking skills, he reminded those in attendance why the Patriots trusted him to be one of their starting cornerbacks last season.

* Marcus Cannon: It's still obviously very early in training camp so far be it from us to guess at what depth charts might look like. That said, the TCU product seemed to take the bulk of his snaps at right guard in between two of last year's starters: tackle Sebastian Vollmer and center Ryan Wendell. Things could change quickly on the line once pads come into play on Sunday.

* Josh Boyce: The fourth-round pick seemed to make a few pre-snap mistakes when it came to his alignment, and his coaches let him know. Nothing more than a few rookie mistakes made by a guy who missed all of rookie minicamp with a foot injury, it would seem. He'll have a chance to iron those out.

* Aqib Talib: It wasn't all bad from Talib on Saturday, but he lost Danny Amendola badly on a seam route during an 11-on-11 period that would have gone for a touchdown had Brady not overthrown his target. Talib also happened to be the unfortunate one watching Dobson jump up and make the play of the day on Brady's long pass down the right sideline.

* Tim Tebow: Another tough day for Tebow, though it started with him getting loud cheers from the crowd as he completed passes to a ball boy standing by himself about 40 yards down field.  At one point during 11-on-11, he held the ball for an inordinate amount of time, looking for a receiver before throwing one incomplete. He wasn't helped by a Kamar Aiken drop, and he did make a long completion to Hawkins down the left sideline. But overall, Tebow struggled with accuracy, nearly overthrowing a wide open Jake Ballard in the flat and behind Matthew Slater across the middle. Both Tebow and Brady had two passes swatted by the raquets in 7-on-7 drills.

* All Patriots quarterbacks wore small black cameras on the sides of their helmets. The presumption is that video could be used later to analyze things like how quarterbacks make their reads or go through their progressions.  

* Against no defense, Danny Amendola drew loud cheers for diving and reeling in a catch from Brady about 35 yards downfield. The Wes Welker-to-Amendola comparisons won't cease any time soon, but from watching Amendola on Saturday, he seems to be faster and move more fluidly than his slot-receiving predecessor.

* Belichick spent a good chunk of time speaking with several of last year's defensive regulars as well as newcomers Tommy Kelly and Adrian Wilson as they appeared to mix in 3-4 alignments with their 4-3 setups.

* Matt Slater and Marquice Cole were getting the most reps as the punt team gunners. Leon Washington, Josh Boyce, and Lavelle Hawkins all returned punts. Danny Amendola returned punts as well, fumbling one of his chances when he stumbled as he tried to split on-coming gunners.

* Brady showed a bit of emotion Saturday, as has become the norm in Patriots training camp sessions. He let out audible yells at a few different points. One came when he missed an open Slater down the field. The other came when a pass went off of Ballard's hands and was picked off by McCourty.

* Patriots second-round pick Jamie Collins continued to work at outside linebacker.

* Steven Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden all made good catches on Saturday, coming out of the backfield with speed and not breaking stride as they received the ball. Bolden looks to be completely over the ankle issue that kept him out of the team's offseason training program.

* Punter Ryan Allen hit a couple of booming spirals on a day when the team chose to focus on punt work in its special teams periods. The rookie out of Louisiana Tech was the school's first-every unanimous First Team All-American and the first player to win the Ray Guy Award as the country's best punter in consecutive seasons.

* Lots of moving and shaking with the Patriots backs, receivers and ends in 11-on-11 work. Our Mike Giardi counted 15 different skill players who took snaps with Brady in that situation.

* "Pre-injury? I don't know if I'll ever feel that way again. I definitely feel a lot better than I have, especially better than OTAs." -- Jake Ballard on how he's feeling coming off of microfracture knee surgery last year.

* "Their names." -- Daniel Fells on what the differences are between former teammate Wes Welker and current teammate Danny Amendola, who played with Fells on the Rams in 2009 and 2010.

* “With his reputation you already know: If you don’t get the job done, you’re gone.” -- Tommy Kelly, who signed with the Patriots as a free agent this offseason, on his new coach Bill Belichick.