By: Steve Balestrieri
QB’s take a step back as secondary steps up
The Patriots conducted another two and a half hour practice session on Friday in the morning before an even bigger crowd than Thursday. The sun was bright and temps were said to be in the low 80s but it felt much warmer than that.
The team was once again IAW the CBA, without pads but low and behold, the team busted out the jerseys for the first time this season and we were finally able to check out a lot of the new faces.
The theme of today however was once again the quarterbacks; Unlike yesterday however, neither Tom Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo was as sharp as they were on Thursday. That’s not to say that they were bad, just not up to yesterday’s performance. Training camp is long and a grind and they’ll have days like that.
Garoppolo was holding the ball too long in the pocket and like yesterday it almost cost him a couple of turnovers. Rookie Jordan Richards made another nice play today, when he read a play very well and then broke on the ball and knocked it away. It is still very early, but so far he’s had a few nice flashes.
Safeties Have Good Session: Like the Richards’ play, the strong safeties had a solid day. Both Pat Chung and Tavon Wilson had solid outings. Chung spoke after practice about how playing against Gronkowski makes him better and he was solid today. Gronk made a few plays but he does that against everyone.
Likewise, Wilson had a very good morning practice, he made a few nice breakups on fade patterns to Chandler. On one particular play right in front of us, Chandler had a step on him towards the right corner of the end zone. Garoppolo laid the ball out perfectly but Wilson was able to recover and knock it away.
Brian Flores crew deserves some praise in the film session tonight. Perhaps like the WRs felt last season going against Darrelle Revis made them better, the safeties will feel the same going against Gronk and Chandler.
On the subject of tight ends, Jake Bequette is now strictly a tight end, and sporting number 85. He did have a drop in team drills but also had a really nice catch today. It will still be an uphill battle for him but he will bear watching.
Corners being very competitive: Like the safeties, the corners had a pretty solid day today. They did a nice job in coverage and were covering the wide receivers closely. Malcolm Butler is a confident guy right now; and his play reflects that. He looks very solid in coverage and broke up a few plays. Robert McClain and Bradley Fletcher had some pass breakups too.
Tarel Brown is looking healthy and competitive as well. He was sporting and odd number, 9 during practice. After the session was over, both Derek Havens and I spoke with WEEI’s Chris Price and he said in all his years covering the Patriots he could not recall a single player, let alone a cornerback wearing the number 9. Price also had a nice quote on watching Garoppolo and new WR Brandon Gibson developing a nice chemistry in 11-on-11 work. “Last year we saw Jimmy G. and Tyms, this summer I think we’ll see Garoppolo and Gibson a lot.”
Offensive Line Surprises So far: Although you can’t really read too much into it since the pads haven’t even come on yet but the two rookie guards Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason have been getting the lion’s share of the snaps with the starting unit with Bryan Stork at center, Nate Solder at left tackle and Marcus Cannon at right tackle.
Of course we’ll get a better feel for things once the pads come on and the play starts getting physical but it has been a nice start for bookend rookie guards.
One of the more interesting things to watch is nearly the complete lack of snaps for RT Sebastian Vollmer. Given his age, (31), and his injury history especially with his back, it is understandable if the team wants to limit his workload early in camp and ease him back in for the long haul. Or the team could want to see if Marcus Cannon can handle the load at RT. It will be an interesting scenario to monitor as camp goes along. As far as we can tell Vollmer is healthy. Or could another Logan Mankins’ situation be looming? Things that make you go hmm….
Rookie linebacker D.J. Lynch limped off the field about halfway thru the session and didn’t return. He looked to be in quite a bit of discomfort. James Morris returned today after leaving yesterdays’ session early. Matthew Wells got quite a few reps today as an inside linebacker in a coverage role.
James White continues to get a ton of reps as the third down back. He and Jonas Gray are getting a lot of work in the screen game. Right now Travaris Cadet is getting most of his work on special teams. He and Tyler Gaffney haven’t seen the field much yet.
Stay tuned to PatsFans.com for the latest camp updates and check out our daily photo gallery on our Facebook page.
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