By: Steve Balestrieri
Big Running Back is impressive in practice
The Patriots conducted their third practice of training camp on Saturday morning in full pads for the first time under sunny, warm skies in front of another big crowd.
The big news of the day was that running back LaGarrette Blount practiced for the first time as did DT Dominique Easley. Blount had failed his conditioning test and Easley started camp on PUP.
Blount hardly looked like a running back that couldn’t pass his conditioning run. He looks a little leaner and was running extremely well. He showed great burst off the snap. Blount is at his best when he get a head of steam going into the second level. The way he was hitting the holes today, including some excellent work during short yardage, he should be primed for a very good year.
Easley showed no signs of rust or injury so perhaps his PUP designation was just a precaution prior to the pads coming on. He looked sharp and in shape and took an active part of all drills and 11-on-11 work.
MIA List: The following players were spotted on the field as the injured list grows:
Quarterback Matt Flynn (NFI)
STs Gunner Matthew Slater (PUP)
WR Brandon LaFell (PUP)
CB Derek Cox
LB Dane Fletcher (PUP)
LB Chris White (PUP)
OL Ryan Wendell (PUP)
DL Vince Taylor (PUP)
OL Caylin Hauptmann (PUP)
TE A.J. Derby,
DL Chris Jones (PUP)
LB D.J. Lynch (who left the field midway through Friday’s practice)
DL Alan Branch (NFI) Branch could be seen on the lower fields working out with the training staff
Linebackers Donta Hightower and Xzavier Dickson were wearing red non-contact jerseys although Dickson was seen in a coverage ILB role frequently during 7-on-7 work. Jerod Mayo seems fully healed from his knee injury and is an active participant.
Sheard Off To an Impressive Start: Yesterday we remarked that new Patriots DE Jabaal Sheard looked very impressive physically. He impressed today in positional drills. He rag-dolled Kevin Hughes in a 1-on-1 drill and left Marcus Cannon grabbing for air doing a nifty spin move at the far end of the field. Sheard looked to get a nice burst in full team drills and is very good at setting the edge in the running game. He’s been working mostly from the left side.
From our limited vantage point and in a bit of good news that rookie Shaq Mason seemed to more than hold his own numerous times in 1-on-1 work, although it was tough to see who he was going up against. He and center Bryan Stork stood out among the best of the OL.
Trey Flowers is getting a ton of reps in the early going and looks like a nice edge setter in the running game. The jury is still out on his pass rushing skills but he seems to have a good burst off the line and is active with his hands.
Jake Bequette had a good day catching the ball and does not look out of place at all as a tight end. During 7-on-7 drills he made a really nice grab of a Brady pass on Tavon Wilson. It is going to be an uphill battle for the converted DE but he is putting in the work.
Play of the Day #1: Aaron Dobson went fully stretched out on a Tom Brady bomb down the right sideline, and hauling in the ball on a play that went for 40+ yards. Brady’s pass was just a tad too long and Dobson went for it with Darryl Roberts in tight coverage, hauling the ball in as he hit the turf. It was a great play for a guy looking to get his career back on track.
He also beat Jimmy Jean in a leaping grab in the end zone; Jean gave him a pat on the head after the play in another nice sequence.
Jordan Richards is a pretty impressive guy for a rookie that missed nearly all of the spring workouts due to NCAA requirements that the school has to graduate before he can practice.
He has seemed to pick up the Patriots defense very quickly, recognizing a look from the offense and already calling out tendencies and signals. He was called “Coach Richards” at Stanford because of his intelligence and thus far it is very apparent that the nickname is well-earned. While it is still very early in the process, you have to be impressed with his instinctive play and has great ball awareness.
During 1-on-1 drills, he provided tight coverage on the towering Scott Chandler and fought him for the ball as it was delivered right on target from Brady…he eventually knocked it away. He intercepted Jimmy Garoppolo on Thursday and nearly had another pick on Friday. He’s off to a great start.
Play of the Day #2: During the running game drills in the middle of the field where the offense was going across the field sideways, Sealver Siliga provided the big hit of the day. Running back Tyler Gaffney had a sliver of daylight and was just hitting the hole when Siliga crossed at the line and hit Gaffney with a thunderous hit that de-cleated the running back and dropping him at the line.
For some reason, Bill Belichick got incensed at the offense during 11-on-11 drills and made the entire offense run a lap.
It was great to have our salary cap contributor Miguel Benzan with Derek Havens and myself as our other contributor, Russ Goldman had to miss today’s practice session. Be sure to check out his salary cap pages.
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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