NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas
Ominous clouds loomed overhead as the New England Patriots prepared for Day 4 of training camp Sunday morning. And inside Gillette Stadium beforehand, director of player personnel Nick Caserio shared some ominous news regarding receiver Greg Orton.
The team waived-injured 27-year-old wideout, who was re-signed Wednesday and suffered an Achilles injury on Friday. Two wideouts – Brian Tyms and Cole Stanford – were signed in corresponding moves to fill the roster to 90.
By the time the majority of those 90 filed onto the fields at 9:30 a.m., Tyms and Stanford were spotted wearing No. 84 and No. 14, respectively. Meanwhile, receivers Aaron Dobson, Jeremy Gallon and Matthew Slater, defensive tackle Dominique Easley, linebacker Deontae Skinner and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard were spotted in sweats.
That’s been the case for those six since camp opened on Thursday. Dobson, Gallon, Slater and Dennard reside on the physically unable to perform list; Easley and Skinner are working their way off the non-football injury list. Each was seen either observing practice, riding bikes or doing some conditioning work on the side, but none of whom were seen participating.
For the fourth consecutive day, undrafted tackle Chris Martin – currently on the non-football injury list – was not seen. For the third consecutive day, sixth-round defensive back Jemea Thomas wasn’t either. And the same held true for first-year cornerback Daxton Swanson for the second consecutive day.
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was there, though, wearing shorts, shoulder pads and a helmet for the second practice in a row. Formerly on the PUP list, the 6’6”, 310-pounder went through individual drills in his customary long red undershirt and high-tucked practice jersey.
Also staying with individual drills was tight end Rob Gronkowski, who went through the route tree with the quarterbacks once again.
While they worked together following some install, the tight ends, defensive linemen and linebackers worked on blocking in the south end zone. In which, third-year defensive end Jake Bequette got under the pads of fullback James Develin, who later had trouble with undrafted linebacker Darius Fleming. And defensive ends Will Smith and rookie Zach Moore also excelled with leverage against 6’8” tight end Justin Jones, but Jones later drove over rookie linebacker Cameron Gordon in a tackling drill.
The horn sounded and the quarterbacks teamed up with the wide receivers. Brandon LaFell showed more consistency in the process, even reeling in a one-handed pass on a post route to draw cheers from the crowd. Rookie Wilson Van Hooser had a drop in a similar setting.
In a different setting, second-year special-teamer Kanorris Davis worked individually with special teams assistant coach Joe Judge on the other field. The two worked together on Saturday as well. An undrafted linebacker out of Troy in 2013, Davis was promoted from the practice squad to play in three regular-season games on special teams as a rookie.
Also playing some special teams on Saturday was receivers Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and rookie tailback Roy Finch, who fielded punts from Ryan Allen.
Punting gave way to 7-on-7 drills shortly thereafter.
Quarterback Tom Brady went 2-of-2 passing under that capacity, finding target Kenbrell Thompkins over corner Brandon Browner and LaFell underneath the linebackers.
It was a lighter day for Brady. Backup Ryan Mallett went 3-of-4 passing in 7-on-7 drills, with an interception to rookie defensive back Malcolm Butler versus Van Hooser.
Second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo went 4-for-4 passing during 7-on-7, including a toss to the newly acquired Tyms through the hands of linebacker Ja’Gared Davis. Then he found Finch in the flat before fellow undrafted rookie Taylor McCuller popped him at the sideline.
McCuller later got involved in a scuffle with tight end Michael Hoomanawanui on the sideline during a 1-on-1 drill.
Things shifted gears to 11-on-11 work. The speakers blared Ozzy Osbourne and AC/DC, adjusting volume to simulate an in-stadium game setting. Through the noise, Brady incompleted his lone pass attempt – a drop by Thompkins against Browner. After that, Mallett and Garoppolo took turns under center.
After a handoff to fourth-rounder James White – which resulted in a definitive pop from Browner – Mallett went 6-for-8 passing in 11-on-11 drills, which were held at midfield, inside the offense’s own five, and down on the goal line. Perhaps his best throw of the day was a deep ball down the left sideline to 2013 fourth-round pick Josh Boyce, who outran the closing coverage of Browner and safety Patrick Chung.
When it was Garoppolo’s chance to go 11-on-11, the rookie fared better than he did earlier in the week in limited passing opportunities. Although he saw a deep pass to Boyce broken up by third-year safety Tavon Wilson, he rebounded with a throw to Develin down the sideline over defensive end Michael Buchanan. On one occastion, he didn’t see anything developing and scrambled.
Garoppolo finished 2-for-2 in goal line situations and 3-for-4 with a scramble in 11-on-11 overall.
There was, nevertheless, a fumbled snap between him and fourth-round center Bryan Stork which led to another penalty lap. And Gordon and 2013 seventh-round linebacker Steve Beauharnais had to do the same just a few reps before for jumping offsides.
The way the Patriots were turning to the run during the July 27 practice, it wasn’t surprising to see some anticipation from the linebackers.
Stevan Ridley had a strong pickup through the interior when New England’s offense had goal posts at its back, using his leg drive to get through lanes.
As the ball moved near the 20-yard line, White also made a cut and scampered outside down the left sideline for some 50 yards. Later on, Shane Vereen had a cutback of a similar variety, bypassing the defensive line and carving upfield.
But the defense stayed around the ball. They put their shoulder pads to use.And by the time the clouds turned to a downpour and practice was called, those pads were broken in.
The Patriots walked off the field before noon and will not return until Tuesday morning.
Tags: Patriots Training Camp