Patriots practice at a glance

July 29, 2012
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Greg A. Bedard gives a rundown on what went on at Patriots practice Saturday:


Reserve/did not report: RG Brian Waters.

Physically unable to perform: LG Logan Mankins (knee), RT Sebastian Vollmer (back), C Nick McDonald (unknown), OT Markus Zusevics (unknown), TE Daniel Fells (shoulder), TE Jake Ballard (knee), DT Myron Pryor (shoulder), WR Jeremy Ebert (hamstring).

Red jerseys: WR Matthew Slater (shoulder), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder).

Not participating: S Nate Ebner (unknown), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), OT Darrion Weems (no contact per CBA), CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring).


DL Justin Francis was carted off with what appeared to be a left knee or calf injury. He appeared to be in a lot of pain. That would be a tough blow to an undrafted player who had made a good early impression.

LB Tracy White, who had hernia surgery in the offseason, walked off the field with a trainer and did not return.

TE Rob Gronkowski took a shot to the face, left with trainers, then returned to action with a bandage on his chin.


Full pads for the first time in camp.


 The crowd made a huge roar on the first play of 7-on-7s when QB Tom Brady went deep down the right sideline to WR Brandon Lloyd. CB Sterling Moore had great coverage but Lloyd won the battle in the air when he plucked it off Moore’s helmet.

 On a similar play later, CB Devin McCourty did a nice job reading Lloyd’s hands and knocking the ball away at the last second.

 Undrafted rookie RB Brandon Bolden continued to open eyes with his all-around play, including the biggest run of the day in team drills. He reminds more and more each day of another former undrafted player, BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

On his first one-on-one drill of camp, NT Vince Wilfork was beaten by LG Dan Connolly. That’s an accomplishment. Wilfork was never defeated in 2011, going 9-0-10. Wilfork got his revenge later with a decided victory.


While we’re a long ways from having a definitive answer on how much first-round pick Chandler Jones will contribute as a rookie, he got off to a very good start in the first padded practice. Not only was he 3-0 in the one-on-one drill, Jones did a nice job being physical and active during 11-on-11s. It wasn’t perfect — Jones got turned around once and gave up leverage a few times — but still an impressive day.


Outside of Connolly and C Dan Koppen, the interior players on the offensive line have been subpar. They were dominated for the most part in one-on-ones and didn’t get much movement during a goal-line drill. We didn’t expect much without Mankins and Waters on the field, but the play has to improve or the Patriots will have to consider looking at other players.


Dropped passes: None.

Nice catches: Lloyd, WR Wes Welker.

Fumbled: TE Aaron Hernandez.

Interceptions: None.


One man’s opinion on how the offensive and defensive lines matched up in one-on-one drills (our favorite part of camp):

Standouts — Offense: OG Donald Thomas (1-0-2), OT Matt Kopa (2-1-0). Defense: DE Jones (3-0-0), DT Jonathan Fanene (3-0-0), Ron Brace (2-0-0), Gerard Warren (2-0-1).

Struggled a bit — Offense: OT Kyle Hix (0-3-0), C Ryan Wendell (0-3-0), OG Jamey Richard (0-3-0), OG Robert Gallery (0-2-2), OG Jeremiah Warren (0-1-1). Defense: DE Tim Bulman (0-1-0), DE Jake Bequette (0-1-0), DT Marcus Harrison (0-0-2).

Decided victories: DT Wilfork 2 (vs. Richard, Connolly); DE Trevor Scott (vs. Hix), DE Rob Ninkovich (vs. Kopa); Jones (vs. Hix); Fanene (vs. Wendell).

 In addition to Jones’s good debut, Fanene made a very good first impression in pads when he showed the interior pass rush that he was known for with the Bengals.

 Jones showed he can use power and finesse. He flashed his own version of the up-down move — used a lot by Mark Anderson last year — to get around Hix on one rep.

 Nate Solder went 2-2-1 in his first go at LT. Line coach Dante Scarnecchia was giving him a lot of instruction. Solder got better as the drills progressed.


 WLB Jerod Mayo has been the best defensive player through three days as he continues to grow into the playmaking role the Patriots have carved out from him.

 First-round pick Dont’a Hightower took more of the first-team snaps from Bobby Carpenter at strong-side linebacker. We expected that at some point, but maybe not quite this early. Hightower also continues to play the middle on the second team. Hightower was quickly in the face of Brian Hoyer on one play, but the quarterback made a nice play to connect with WR Donte’ Stallworth.

 Brady just keeps clicking. He was 13 of 15 in 7-on-7s. Ryan Mallett was 8 of 9, and Hoyer received just three reps (he hit all three). The feeling here is the Patriots know what they have in Hoyer, but they need to find out what Mallett is capable of, especially with Hoyer likely entering his final season.

 S Sergio Brown had another miscue when he took a bad angle and then bumped into CB Ross Ventrone, who was in coverage against WR Jesse Holley.

 Rookie S Tavon Wilson got a dose of the NFL when Hernandez faked Wilson out of his drawers after a pass. He shouldn’t worry, that happens to a lot of players against Hernandez.

 Players ran a lot of penalty laps for being offsides. Coach Bill Belichick will probably have something to say about that.

 We’ve been seeing more and more of Ras-I Dowling at both cornerback spots.

 The Patriots continue to tinker with something we saw last season: safeties playing linebacker in sub packages. Both Wilson and Ihedigbo showed versatility.


 Sunday: 1:30-4 p.m.

 Wednesday: In-stadium evening practice for season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents.

The rest is TBD.

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