NEPD Staff Report
For the first time since they left the field as losers in Super Bowl, the Patriots were back on the field with a more complete and perhaps a better team than they had in January. What were the highlights of day one?
Continue reading to find out.
– Tom Brady appeared to be in mid-season form fitting a number of tight passes into coverage. He also looked great throwing the deep ball especially one to Jabar Gaffney that went for a touchdown.
– Rob Gronkowski took part in every aspect of practice. His ankle looked fine, no limping or hobbling.
– As far as the new receivers go, I’d say they hit the ground running. Brandon Lloyd looks like he has been in the offense for years. On one occasion he ran a brillant double move, beating Devin McCourty in coverage. As for Jabar Gaffney, it was an impressive practice. He had one drop early, but after that he settled in. He and QB Tom Brady didn’t miss a beat all day, completing a 40 yard TD pass as well as several deep breaking routes.
– The defensive backfield had a full complement of players today. Devin McCourty and Kyle Arrington were the first team corners, while Steve Gregory and Patrick Chung were the safeties. When the defensive went into to “Nickel” package Kyle Arrington moved inside to slot CB and Ras-I Dowling came in at corner. As for rookie Tavon Wilson, he ran with the second team safeties.
– Speaking of Ras-I Dowling, he was a full go today and didn’t show any signs from the hip injury he suffered last season. The one thing that continues to stick out about Dowling is his size and length. It’s impressive for a CB.
– Stevan Ridley took the majority of first team carries. He looked elusive and showed strong hands catching the ball out of the backfield all day.
– Kick returns weren’t the Patriots strong suit last year. They worked plenty on kick return and Danny Woodhead and Shane Vereen were the first team returners. With Julian Edelman and Matthew Slater making up the second unit.
– Bobby Carpenter continue to get a lot of reps in pass coverage drills. Based on how much he played today and reports that he got the same amount of reps in mini-camp, it looks like the team hopes he makes and impact.
– Dont’a Hightower was worked into the linebacker rotation a lot. His size and mobility are the first things that stand out. He looked great covering the flat in 7 on 7 drills.
– As for Chandler Jones he played both “elephant” and 4-3 defensive end with his hand in the ground. When he was playing left DE, the defensive line went:
Jones / Love / Wilfork / Ninkovich
It might be a defensive line we see a lot of this season.
– I know it’s one practice but Aaron Hernandez looks poised for a monster season. He was tough to cover no matter what the drill was. With so much attention likely to be paid to other players, he could easily top the 1000 yard mark for the season.
– Ryan Mallett looks considerable thinner this season (so does Vince Wilfork) and the highlight of the day for him was the beautiful deep ball he threw to Julian Edelman for a completion down the seam. Mallett does have work to do though and checked it down too much in my opinion.
– I didn’t keep an attendance report, but I can tell you Brandon Spikes was out there in full pads, but didn’t take part in team drills. Also, Nate Ebner was one of the players no one could locate on the field either.