FOXBOROUGH — Despite rain-soaked conditions that caused the team to close practice to the public, the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles took the field on Wednesday for their second joint practice leading into their preseason showdown on Friday.
Either the Dana Farber Field House is just for show, or the prospect of fitting roughly 180 players into the practice bubble was not enticing for the Patriots and Eagles coaching staffs. Or, perhaps, the two sides wanted to get as much practice in the rain as possible to prepare for the possibility of rainy games during the regular season.
"It was kind of a New England-type day," said Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. "We had a bunch of these last year, and really for the most part the weather has been great all camp. It’s good to get work in like this."
The rain came down at a relatively constant rate throughout the practice, letting up for only a few brief minutes in the middle of the two-hour session.
"You're gonna deal with it sometime this year," said Patriots receiver Brandon LaFell. "You've got 16 games, everybody's playing outdoors, so one of those games, it's going to be a wet ballgame. So a situation like this is gonna get us more prepared for when the time comes to play in the game."
The Patriots rose to the challenge. The quarterbacks combined to complete over 60 percent of their throws in 11-on-11 work, and none of the Patriots quarterbacks threw an interception. The receivers did a good job of keeping their feet under them and keeping their hands on the wet ball; there were only three dropped passes on the day.
There was one rain-induced miscue by Brady, who lost his grip on the ball and appeared to fumble it before his arm came forward to deliver a pass. Other than that, the only damage done by the rain was to the length of the practice, which was cut short by about 30 minutes.
Here are some more notes from the Patriots' 21st day of training camp.
— Attendance: RB Tyler Gaffney (meniscus), DB Justin Green (trade), TE D.J. Williams (unknown), LB Cameron Gordon (unknown), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (unknown), LB Jerod Mayo (unknown), OL Chris Martin (unknown, NFI), WR Jeremy Gallon (unknown, PUP), DL Chris Jones (ankle/leg), and DT Sealver Siliga (hand) were not spotted at practice. S Tavon Wilson (unknown), LB Ja'Gared Davis (unknown), and C Bryan Stork (unknown) were spotted but not wearing pads.
— Patriots passing statistics, 11-on-11: Tom Brady went 12-of-17 with a pair of touchdowns. Ryan Mallett went 2-of-5 (worth noting: all three incompletions were dropped passes). Jimmy Garoppolo went 2-of-4.
— Eagles passing statistics, 11-on-11: Nick Foles went 12-of-21. Mark Sanchez went 5-of-6. Matt Barkley went 3-of-4.
— Patriots drops: RB Brandon Bolden, WR Brian Tyms, WR Wilson Van Hooser.
— Patriots penalties: CB Brandon Browner, OT Marcus Cannon
— Eagles penalties: WR Ifeanyi Momah, S Keelan Johnson, DE Cedric Thornton, OG Allen Barbre.
— OL vs. DL results: There were two sets of 1-on-1 pass-rush drills going on at the same time, aand we were only able to log the Patriots offensive line against the Eagles defensive line. There were 22 repetitions, and the Patriots offensive line lost by a score of 10-12.
— OL results: LT Nate Solder (2-0), LG Logan Mankins (1-1), OL Dan Connolly (0-2), C Ryan Wendell (1-1), OL Marcus Cannon (1-1), RT Sebastian Vollmer (2-0), OT Cameron Fleming (0-2), OG Jon Halapio (1-1), OT Jordan Devey (1-1), OL Chris Barker (0-2), OG Josh Kline (1-1).
— Some of the highlights and lowlights from those drills included Nate Solder blocking Eagles DE Trent Cole to the ground and Josh Kline being bull-rushed to the ground by Eagles DT Frances Mays. In Kline's defense, it was hard to tell whether he was truly rushed to the ground or simply lost his footing on the wet grass.
— We didn't catch the whole drill of Patriots DL vs. Eagles OL 1-on-1s, but here are some notes from what we saw: DT Tommy Kelly was able to blast through the middle of the line with a firm bull rush. DE Chandler Jones and DE Rob Ninkovich each bested their assignments on separate occasions. DT Dominique Easley showed some nice burst off the ball and wormed his way past Eagles OG Allen Barbre.
— DE Jake Bequette has had an impressive training camp, but the Patriots are not content letting him continue playing to his strengths. He was serving as an outside linebacker in coverage during passing drills (five offensive players against eight defensive players) and in 11-on-11 work. Bequette has not been anything but a defensive end since entering the NFL, and has minimal experience dropping into coverage. With the Patriots expected to be more multiple with their edge defenders this year, they could be testing his limits in that regard.
— Aside from his penalty for illegal contact, CB Brandon Browner got into a little tussle with Eagles RB Roc Carmichael during a special teams drill. Both men came off the field for the next play.
— Patrick Chung continued to get looks at safety next to Devin McCourty, but Kyle Arrington was also spotted playing safety for a few reps during team drills. Arrington has been the team's slot cornerback for the past two years, and joins a large group of players getting reps at strong safety during training camp.
— The Patriots appeared to have a lot more success running off the left side than the right side during rushing drills. Nate Solder and tight end Ben Hartsock teamed up to form a nice wall off the left side to clear the way for a long run by Brandon Bolden. They tried running right on the next play, but Bolden was forced out of bounds while trying to follow unsuccessful blocks by rookie right tackle Cameron Fleming. Fleming's best work as a run-blocker came when he had help from a tight end.
— On the flip side, defensive linemen Tommy Kelly, Vince Wilfork, and Joe Vellano seemed to be getting moved off the ball when the Eagles had the ball in rushing drills.
— Later in rushing drills, Jonas Gray took a handoff to the left and found a wall of Eagles defenders; there was a nice hole for a cutback in the opposite direction, and Gray tried to capitalize, but couldn't hit the hole in time. A back with better burst may have been able to make something out of the hole, but Gray was stuffed before he could get through it.
— The Eagles ran a lot of screens, and the Patriots did a nice job defending them for the most part. LB Jamie Collins had a nice hit on Eagles RB LeSean McCoy on a screen pass out of the backfield, avoiding a blocker to bring McCoy down behind the line of scrimmage. McCoy took his helmet off and came off the field the next play, but returned to practice later. DEs Zach Moore and Will Smith ganged up for a big hit on Eagles TE Zach Ertz, bringing him down behind the line of scrimmage as well.
— The defensive backs aren't the only ones who are constantly asking questions of the referees. Tom Brady was spotted having a little chat with one of the referees after leading a touchdown drive. They seemed to be going over a couple of scenarios that occurred on the previous drive.
— There were some errant passes with the rain today, but some of the Patriots wide receivers were stepping up and making nice plays to bail out their quarterbacks. Kenbrell Thompkins adjusted to a throw on an in-route in the red zone, catching a pass that had been thrown slightly behind him. LaFell did the same thing on a slant route on the next series. Julian Edelman contorted his body to come down with a toe-tapping touchdown catch in the back of the end zone off Tom Brady, and got a celebratory headbutt from Brady for his trouble.
— Chandler Jones has lined up at defensive tackle in the past, and Zach Moore joined him at defensive tackle in a 2-4-5 nickel defense at one point.
— CB Malcolm Butler continues to show off solid recovery speed (which is a slight surprise, given his 4.62-second 40-yard dash time). He seems to make his best plays when he has to chase down a receiver on a vertical route, and had a nice pass break-up on a deep pass, where he had to leap in the air to stop it from being completed.
— Second-year CB Logan Ryan had a nice day for himself after struggling yesterday. He came down with an interception in 1-on-1 coverage drills, and during 11-on-11 drills he tipped a pass that was then intercepted by Chung.