Patriots practice report

August 8, 2012
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Patriots practice report

Greg A. Bedard’s rundown of what happened at Tuesday’s Patriots practice with the Saints.


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

Out: CB Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring), LB Tracy White (unknown), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (unknown), DT Jonathan Fanene (unknown), FB Spencer Larsen (unknown), OT Matt Kopa (leg), DT Ron Brace (unknown), OT Darrion Weems (precautionary), OT Kyle Hix (right shoulder), LB Brandon Spikes (unknown).

Not participating fully: WR Deion Branch (no team drills).

Returned to practice: S Derrick Martin, WR Jeremy Ebert, LB Dane Fletcher, S James Ihedigbo.


 C/G Ryan Wendell appeared to be ailing for a stretch but returned to action.

 OT Dustin Waldron limped off at the end of practice.


Full pads.


1. Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez had a one-handed catch over Saints CB Johnny Patrick.

2. TE Rob Gronkowski leaped into the air along the back line to grab a pass, and then deftly tapped his feet down for the score in 7-on-7s.

3. Saints WR Joseph Morgan made a great leaping catch from Drew Brees over CB Kyle Arrington some 35 yards down the left sideline.

4. Patriots CB Sterling Moore made a great play to win the ball in the air against Saints RB Pierre Thomas, but Moore’s deflection went right to Thomas while he was on the ground for a touchdown.


S Patrick Chung was by far the Patriots’ best defender on the field against the Saints. He was terrific in coverage (even against TE Jimmy Graham), provided strong run support, and looked sure in his assignments. Chung has had a terrific camp to this point. The hope now is that he stays healthy and delivers during a contract year.


The Patriots had it taken to them by the Saints in 11-on-11 situations, and it started up front. The offensive line was one big sieve against the Saints’ active front and it threw off the entire offense, including QB Tom Brady, who only completed 7 of 16 passes (43.8 percent) and threw an interception. And because of injuries, the Saints were down to their 4-6 CBs for much of team drills. Conversely, New Orleans’ terrific offensive line easily handled the Patriots up front as Drew Brees hit on 18 of his 26 passes (69.2 percent) with an interception.


Dropped passes: None.

Nice catch: Ebert, Hernandez, Wes Welker, Britt Davis, Julian Edelman, Gronkowski.

Fumbled: None.

Interceptions: Steve Gregory (of Brees), Fletcher (of Chase Daniels); Saints S Malcolm Williams (of Brady), Curtis Lofton (of Brady), Marquice Cole (of Luke McCown).


One man’s opinion on how the offensive and defensive lines matched up in one-on-one drills (our favorite part of camp). Records shown indicate wins-losses-draws.

This is just a look at the Patriots’ defense against the Saints’ offense. And take them with a grain of salt, there was a lot going on.

Standouts — Defense: Marcus Harrison (3-0-0), Marcus Fortson (2-0-0), Jake Bequette (1-0-1), Justin Francis (1-0-1).

Struggled — Defense: Trevor Scott (0-2-0), Chandler Jones (0-1-1).

Decided victories — Fortson (vs. Fenuki Tupou); Francis (vs. Hutch Eckerson).

The Patriots defense concluded before the offense so we were only able to see five reps for the Patriots, and it wasn’t pretty. RT Marcus Cannon, LG Dan Connolly, and RG Donald Thomas all were handily defeated by Junior Galette, Cameron Jordan, and Braylon Broughton, respectively. C Ryan Wendell completely shut down DT Alex Daniels, while LT Nate Solder did a real nice job against DE Will Smith.

The Patriots’ defensive line did a nice job overall, going 14-6-3. The second- and third-teamers really did a nice job against the Saints’ reserves.

Jones was solid against Jermon Bushrod, who is a good LT in the NFL. Jones held his own strength-wise, and kept his feet moving in a stalemate. Charles Brown’s initial punch stunned Jones on his next rep, but he didn’t back down.

Scott’s slump continues. He hasn’t shown many moves and he hasn’t overpowered anyone since the early stages of camp.


 The Saints were without top CBs Jabari Greer and Patrick Robinson, and then nickel corner Johnny Patrick left with an injury. They did not have starting WR Devery Henderson, WLB David Hawthorne and RB Mark Ingram.

 In CB/WR one-on-ones, Saints quarterbacks started 21 of 24 before finishing with three incompletions. Ras-I Dowling lost all three matchups against Saints WR Andy Tanner, who was on the practice squad last year. Devin McCourty was beaten twice by Marques Clark. Arrington was the most competitive of the Patriots’ corners. Sterling Moore was made to look bad by Saints WR Lance Moore, who does that to a lot of people.

 When the Patriots had their turn, Brady was 12 of 13 and Brian Hoyer was 13 of 18. Some nice back-shoulder catches from a host of Patriots.

 In 7-on-7s, Brady was 11 for 13 with an interception. He did go deep to Jabar Gaffney for a touchdown. Hoyer was 2 of 2.

 In 11-on-11 after Brady zipped a completion to Gronkowski between two defenders, Connolly got blown up to allow RB Stevan Ridley to get tackled for a 4-yard loss, and then Brady had to throw a screen into the turf because the blocking was so bad by Cannon. Both Connolly and Cannon were yanked for a few plays as a result. Later, Solder was smoked by DE Will Smith and was benched for a few plays.

 Brandon Bolden was by far the Patriots’ best and most successful RB. Good power and vision.

 Rob Ninkovich continues to a very nice job rushing the quarterback and causing problems.

 Arrington and Dowling were beaten on back-to-back plays to start the third-down session.

 The Patriots really like bringing S Tavon Wilson on blitzes when he’s in as the dime package.

 Justin Francis and Kyle Love took Darren Sproles down for a loss.

 OG Jeremiah Warren had the kind of practice you’d like to forget. He allowed Ridley to get taken down for a loss at one point, and then on the final drill he was beaten twice for would-be sacks in the span of four plays.

 On Ryan Mallett’s one rep, he took a three-step drop, locked onto Brandon Lloyd and threw it 5 feet short.

 Jones had a pass breakup.

 Dont’a Hightower, at MLB with Brandon Spikes out, had no chance against Sproles in the pass game. But one play after giving up a red-zone toucheown, Hightower did meet Sproles in the hole for no gain.

 Saints LB Curtis Lofton had a very impressive practice. He carried Gronkowski in coverage and popped Ridley hard on back-to-back red-zone plays. Second-year LB Martez Wilson was also all over the field.

 Brady’s struggles subsided when he hooked up with Lloyd for a red-zone touchdown on a quick slant, and then two plays later Brady hit Gronkowski for a score. Both were against the Saints’ backups.

 Jermaine Cunningham played DT in some sub packages.

 Punter Zoltan Mesko (4.34 seconds hangtime) outkicked Thomas Morstead of the Saints (4.16). Morstead started with two really poor punts, but got off the best one (4.94). Mesko was more consistent. Ebert, in his first padded practice, got some return reps.

 Some Patriots offensive players figured coach Bill Belichick would have plenty to say when the film is turned on. Plenty of teachable moments out there.


Wednesday: 10 a.m. with Saints

Thursday: 7:30 p.m. game vs. Saints

Friday: No practice.

Shalise Manza Young and Julian Benbow of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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