NEPD Staff Contributor
It already feels like the season is in full swing with the Patriots hitting the field for day number two of training camp. Here are fifteen things that either stood out or that we learned on Friday.
Continue Reading for Friday’s Practice Report.
1. The Brandon Lloyd show continued today. There is just a smoothness about the way he runs his routes and the way he cradles the ball. It looks effortless. He also has some of the softest hands in the league. When the ball makes contact with his hands it makes no noise at all and looks like it sticks to him. Lloyd made several big plays today, including catching a number of deep passes up the middle of the field from Tom Brady. It’s an element of the passing game that was sorely missing last year.
2. QB Tom Brady wasn’t as sharp as he was yesterday and got made at himself on a couple of occasions. One was a wobbly pass which was intercepted by Bobby Carpenter and the other was a deep ball to Brandon Lloyd which he under threw him. On a whole Tom Brady still looks in mid-season form, but when your Tom Brady your mistakes (few) stand out and are over analyzed.
3. Before practice Coach Belichick spoke highly of second year CB Ras-I Dowling. Belichick said “the key for him like all players is staying healthy. To get out on the field perform and then make adjustments. He was able to make progress last year.” Belichick then went on to say it was nice to have him back out there.
On the field Dowling continued to get a lot of reps. He appears to be the #3 corner right now and comes in when the Patriots are in nickel or sub package defense. The Patriots were in sub package defenses over 60% of the time last year, so it looks like Dowling will be playing a big role this year.
4. Aaron Hernandez continued to work with the wide receivers from time to time. Hernandez’s versatility is well known and another wrinkle we could see this year is Hernandez returning some punts in different situations. He worked on catching punts towards the end of practice. Including one when he was backed up on the goal line. It looks like they wanted to get him used to fair catching punts in emergency situations.
5. Alfonzo Dennard, may have had the best defensive play of the day. Dennard was in coverage against Jabar Gaffney who tried to beat him up the sideline, QB Tom Brady threw the ball and it looked like Gaffney had Dennard beat. Dennard was able to locate the ball, recover and knock the pass down. After that however, Dennard appeared to injury his left leg and didn’t return to practice. It didn’t look serious, but it’s an injury none the less.
6. There is a huge difference between Ryan Mallett throwing the deep ball and throwing the underneath passes. When he throws it down field, he has good velocity, arc and touch on his passes. He completed a number of deep passes today including ones to Julian Edelman and Jesse Holley. However, when he is forced to throw swing passes and shorter passes, he lacks accuracy and seems to put too much velocity on it.
7. With the players in only helmets today, the team spent a lot of time working on Special teams. On kick return coverage Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling worked with the first team as the “jammers”. This speaks to their ability to press at the line of scrimmage and get jams on the gunners. This also, could be clue to how we see Dennard and Dowling deployed in coverage. Both players, in my opinion play better in press coverage when the play is in front of them.
8. When the 7 0n 7 defense ran some cover two looks, Tavon Wilson joined Patrick Chung as the two deep safeties. Wilson is being thrown right into the mix as the 3rd safety and hasn’t looked out of place yet.