By: Steve Balestrieri
The New England Patriots are finally back on the field and able to concentrate on football now that their tumultuous off-season is over. And on an unseasonably cold, wet Friday morning the throngs of Patriots fans were in attendance at the practice fields of Foxboro.
It was a shorts and shells (light shoulder pads) practice, so hitting was very light.
Among the missing from Friday’s practice that I noticed were Julian Edelman, Mark Harrison, Armond Armstead, Nick McDonald, and Rob Gronkowski. McDonald did however work out with the training staff down on the field.
The rain which fell intermittently hard throughout the practice really affected the passing game and a few errant throws and drops can be attributed to that. With that in mind….
Quick Takes on the Morning Practice:
Tommy Kelly is one big dude, not just big like a big football player but really big, like a mountain. He is going to bear watching once the pads come on and the hitting begins in earnest. Next to Wilfork in the line, it’s going to be interesting.
I watched Adrian Wilson closely today, and rumors of his demise seem premature. He looked like he was moving around really well and they rotated him in a few different spots. But he carries himself like the leader he is, was talking to every player coming off the field.
He’s built like a linebacker and I foresee him playing an in-the-box role for the Patriots. He did get beat by Jake Ballard on a deep sideline throw, but had good coverage and it was more of a good play by Ballard than a poor on by him.
Immediately liked what I saw in Aaron Dobson as well, he made some nice plays, did have a concentration drop but carries himself off the field like a seasoned vet. Just a little bit of swagger….gotta love that.
Fellow wide receiver Josh Boyce didn’t get as many reps, but looks completely healthy from his foot injury and runs very smooth, precise routes and seems to have nice hands catching the ball.
Danny Amendola looks to have the slot position down pat, he’s already Brady’s go-to guy and they put him in motion a lot, He caught a ton of passes inside, outside and down the seams….and is already a crowd favorite.
File This Under May Mean Something…May Not- Saw Jermaine Cunningham get first reps at DE after Jones and Ninkovich. For someone that I have firmly only the bubble, maybe it means he’s going to get every chance to save his own job.
He’s always had Belichick’s confidence although his on-field performance hasn’t always been a source for such confidence…. It will bear watching
On the subject of defensive ends, Michael Buchanan has the prototypical size and frame to really make a name for himself. He really looks the part, now he needs to do it on the field.
Tim Tebow had a rough morning at QB, his throwing motion has improved a bit, but his footwork is still sloppy and he took too long in getting rid of the football, twice resulting in interceptions, one on a heck of a play by Chandler Jones.
Bill Belichick at one point screamed about getting rid of the ball (PC version), but Tebow did scramble a few times effectively out of the pocket and caught a pass in team drills getting a nice crowd response.
Catch of the day – Kamar Aiken made a beauty of a leaping catch drawing a huge crowd response with rookie CB Logan Ryan in good coverage.
Alfonzo Dennard may be in the doghouse a bit, as Kyle Arrington got first team reps as the RCB in the first 11-on-11 drills, Dennard worked in later, but Belichick loves to send signals at times and if so, this one was loud and clear that anyone can be replaced.
I thought back QB Ryan Mallett looked much better today than last season, he still takes a bit longer to make his reads, but compared to Brady, most everyone does. He did make some really nice throws and when he makes up his mind, the ball gets there really fast. The equivalent of a major league 95 mph fastball when he uncorks it.
Tight end play was pretty good overall, Michael Hoomanawanui, Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells were all ok in the passing game, Ballard made a few nice catches down the seam, while the other two worked more underneath. Zach Sudfeld is a really big target in the Gronk mold. He didn’t get a ton of work but looks the part and he made a few plays in limited snaps.
Chandler Jones said he worked out this off-season and added 10 pounds of muscle, it looks more like 15. He looks ripped and very strong today. It was hard to get a feel on the offensive and defensive lines as they weren’t hitting but Jones looks ready to assume that mantle of a dominant defensive player.