Patriots practice report
Greg A. Bedard’s rundown of what happened at Thursday afternoon’s practice:
Reserve/did not report: G Brian Waters.
Physically unable to perform: G Logan Mankins (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back), C Nick McDonald (unknown), T 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), CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), LB Tracy White (unknown), OL Jamey Richard (concussion, placed on injured reserve), WR Deion Branch (unknown), FB Tony Fiammetta (unknown), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (unknown), CB Will Allen (unknown), WR Brandon Lloyd (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown), FB Spencer Larsen (unknown), DE Jake Bequette (unknown), T Matt Kopa (leg).
Returned to practice: OL Dan Connolly, DE Rob Ninkovich.
WR Jabar Gaffney walked slowly to the locker room with a trainer and did not return. There was no visible injury. Branch, who hasn’t been participating in most drills, also left the field.
After full pads the previous four practices, the Patriots were in soft shells and shorts.
On the second play of Tom Brady’s two-minute drills, S Steve Gregory jumped in front of Julian Edelman and picked off a pass.
WR Donté Stallworth made a nice leaping grab of a Brady pass over CB Ross Ventrone.
Brian Hoyer showed off his arm strength when he made a big-time throw to Jesse Holley on a 20-yard out along the sideline. Ihedigbo had no chance at defending it.
The much-maligned secondary had its best day. We’ll ignore that the offense was missing three top receivers (Lloyd, Gaffney, and Branch) for much of practice, and that strong winds affected passes.
Chris Koepplin is back for his second go-round as Stephen Gostkowski’s stand-in on kickoffs and most field goals (we’re wondering exactly what Gostkowski does around here). The UMass product has shown a good leg on kickoffs, but he’s been subpar on field goals. He was 3 of 6 on Thursday.
HIGH AND LOWS
Dropped passes: Gaffney.
Nice catches: Holley, Edelman (2), Shane Vereen.
Interceptions: Gregory (of Brady).
ODDS AND ENDS
■ Second-round pick Tavon Wilson is starting to come on. He’s giving the tight ends, even Rob Gronkowski, a tough time in coverage and has shown a knack for the ball. Wilson has been used in a variety of roles — linebacker, safety, and cornerback — and it doesn’t appear to be too much for him. If he doesn’t grab a starting spot, expect him to be a jack-of-all-trades. with the No. 1 job being a TE stopper.
■ Another strong pass breakup from Sterling Moore, who appears to lead the cornerbacks in that category by a wide margin. Moore’s ball skills were apparent last season, and if he keeps it up it may be tough to keep him on the sideline. But neither Ras-I Dowling nor Devin McCourty has ceded a lot of room.
■ Ryan Mallett completed a nice back-shoulder pass to Edelman, but we’re not sure that was on purpose. Edelman made a nice adjustment around Moore, who was in perfect position.
■ Edelman continues to look terrific. and added another tough catch in the two-minute drill.
■ Brady was not happy walking off the field. Just not a sharp day. For the second straight practice, his group didn’t pick up a first down in its two-minute drill.
■ Hoyer was 6 of 7 with his group. before giving way to Mallett for the final two plays.
■ Gregory added a pass breakup to his interception.
■ With Ninkovich back, DE Trevor Scott and LB Jermaine Cunningham went back to reserve roles.
■ Despite the offensive line having a good practice Wednesday night, the starting unit was different again. Connolly returned after a practice off and went to right guard, and Dan Koppen replaced Ryan Wendell at center. Robert Gallery was at left guard, and the tackles were the same with Nate Solder on the left and Marcus Cannon on the right.
Friday: 1:30-4 p.m.
Saturday: No practice
Sunday: 1:30-4 p.m.
Tuesday: 1:30-4 p.m. (joint practice with Saints)
Wednesday: 10 a.m. with Saints
Thursday: 7:30 p.m. game vs. Saints