FOXBOROUGH — Real football was back for the first time as the pads went on. There was a decided uptick in urgency and intensity.
Let's get to it:
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
They crammed a lot into 105 minutes: After having a leisurely pace to the first two non-padded practices, the Patriots got a lot of work done under a blazing sun. While there was an emphasis on the running game -- because you can't simulate that kind of work in shells (passing you can) -- there were still some passing drills, the punters got work, there were several blocking drills, and there was a new special teams period late in practice where various stations worked on specialized techniques in special teams (blocking punts and field goals, etc.). Still, some of the players had to be prodded to pick up the between-session pace. An audible "MOVE YOUR ASS!" could be heard from one of the coaches at one point.
Deatrich Wise set the tone: On about the second snap of half-line running drills (there were two sets of offensive lines — left side and right side with centers — and they took turns with running back carries), Deatrich Wise shed a block and absolutely put Jeremy Hill on his rear end, cleats up. Wise also had a good day in the one-on-ones.
Sony Michel fumbled again: That's twice in three days for the first-round pick out of Georgia and it's going to continue to be a concern until it's not for a player Michel averaged a fumble on every 54.6 carries in college, where the average was 124.5 in this year's draft.
Non-Football Injury list: WR Darren Andrews, WR Cody Hollister.
Physically unable to perform list: WR Kenny Britt (leg), S Nate Ebner (knee), CB Cyrus Jones (knee), CB Jonathan Jones (Achilles), ST Matthew Slater, WR Malcolm Mitchell (knee).
Red non-contact jerseys: Just the QBs.
Not participating: None.
Returned to practice: RB Brandon Bolden,
New injuries: Trey Flowers (head/eye), Keion Crossen (unknown).
Limited: RT Marcus Cannon (unknown).
LENGTH OF PRACTICE
Tom Brady: In 11-on-11 situations, Brady was 2 of 4 with an INT. In goal line, Brady was 5 of 6, but it wasn't highly competitive.
Brian Hoyer: 3 of 5 with an INT in 11 on 11s. Didn't do goal line.
Danny Etling: 4 of 7 in goal line. Doesn't get many reps. The opportunity section of practice is where he'll have to get most of his work in.
Fumbles: Sony Michel.
Drops: Dwayne Allen (in a non-competitive drill on an easy pass), Jordan Matthews.
Pass breakups: Patrick Chung.
Interception: Duron Harmon with 2.
Working on this. It always takes longer the first day with new players and numbers, if you want to do it right. So please check back.
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I rank the defense by win percentage because that's ultimately what's important on that side — how often do you beat your man? I rank offense by loss percentage because the opposite is true on that side.
Decisive victories: Thuney over Brown; Langi over Cannon; Wise over Theaker; John over Harris; Waddle over Lee; Van Noy over John; Wise over Brown.
Heavyweight bouts (starting-caliber players)
Thuney dominated Brown at the point of attack.
Guy was able to get under Mason's pads and shove him back.
Waddle held the crap out of Rivers up high.
Wynn and Rivers fought to a solid draw.
Wise really beat up Brown on a rush around right end in a titanic matchup of length. Wise is so good with his hands and used those his advantage there.
Mason vs. Valentine was a draw.
Wynn showed a lot by shutting down Clayborn.
- I thought the three most impressive players were Langi, Atkins and Wynn, followed closely by Wise (most dominating) and Brown.
- Langi has been invisible in practice, but this is where he showed up last training camp and started earning himself more time. He might have the quickest first step on the team and then he's relentless with countermoves. He never stops. He made Cannon look bad, which isn't easy.
- Atkins was the biggest surprise of the day. I'm going to have to watch him more in practice.
- Wynn looks puny out there but he's got great balance and keeps moving his feet. He reminds me a bit of Brian Waters, which I know is high praise but that's what I see.
- If Wise can lock out his arms or swat your hands down, you're in big trouble. Good day for him.
- Brown doesn't look like much at all, but he very much gets the job done. Patriots might have a steal there. I'm still trying to figure out why the 49ers basically just gave away a starting tackle, let alone one that looks like he can play left tackle. Jimmy Garoppolo make-up?
- Butler is not going anywhere soon. Still is a whirling dervish on the inside.
- Rivers was OK, but didn't flash much.
- It's now apparent why Clayborn is being lifted in sub for Wise — Clayborn isn't going to bring much in the pass rush.
- Of the starting offensive linemen, Andrews had the toughest time. Couldn't anchor and hold his ground.
SHANK IT OFF
For now, there's a punting competition going on between the incumbent, Ryan Allen, and the undrafted challenger, Corey Bojorquez, so we're going to cover the hell out of it because Bedard's a nerd like that.
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A few thoughts:
- All punts came from the minus-35 yard line.
- A better day for Allen, but Bojorquez still had a better day and eliminated the shank he had.
- If you take out the shank, Bojorquez leads to date 4.61 to 4.15.
- We got a better look at the directional punting because they were dealing with a half field. I would say Allen did a slightly better job with that, but it wasn't pronounced.
- It was interesting later in practice to see Stephen Gostkowski working with Bojorquez and giving him tips on holding for field goals. Obviously, this is an important part of the competition.
Duron Harmon: The veteran safety picked off two passes in the end zone against Hoyer and Brady, and let them know about it.
Mike Gillislee: Received a majority of the first-team reps and looked good. I would say his pad level was much improved over last season and he ran with more confidence and was decisive. Quick to the hole and low to the ground is a good way to make the team.
Trent Brown: Will update with his one-on-one numbers but even without those, in regular team drills I don't think I've seen him get beaten yet. Yes, he's enormous and is tough to get around naturally, but he plays with solid technique and his run blocking has been the best part of his game. He's moving mountains in that aspect of the game.
Rex Burkhead: Normally he's the Patriots' best back when he's healthy, and running backs should stand out when the pads get put on. He wasn't bad or anything, but he just didn't show out like some of the other backs.
Luke Bowanko: The interior lineman's Patriots career didn't get off to a great start as he was the only offensive lineman not to record at least a draw in the first round of one-on-ones. Seemed really out of sorts and couldn't get a good base.
Adrian Clayborn: If Patriots' fans were hoping he would be a big boost to the pass rush, they might be disappointed as he was 0-1-1 and is already getting lifted for Deatrich Wise in sub. But he's still a damn good run player and the Patriots needed a lot of help there.
- Play of the day came during red zone between the first-team offense and defense when Tom Brady tried to pinpoint Rob Gronkowski on a fade down the left sideline, but it was broken up at the last second by Patrick Chung. Wise ran all the way over to congratulate Chung and on his way to the sideline, Bill Belichick held out his hand and gave Chung five. Not sure I've ever seen that before.
- Jordan Matthews showed good concentration beating Stephon Gilmore on a slant and then recatching the pass that initially popped into the air. Brady gave Matthews a high-10 and a headbutt to celebrate.
- Some interesting positional rotations. Elandon Roberts was not in the defense on every down. It was usually Dont'a Hightower as the Mike with Kyle Van Noy in base and big nickel. Roberts came on in subpackages.
- Adrian Clayborn was being removed in subpackages for Deatrich Wise, which allowed Trey Flowers to go back to his preferred RE spot. Adam Butler would replace Malcom Brown in sub.
- Duke Dawson showed up as the slot corner with the first team.
- The second-team defensive line was, from left, Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis, Danny Shelton and Wise.
- Belichick made the offense and defense run after different plays. He was making a point about "penalties and turnovers."
- Jeremy Hill definitely staked a claim to being the short-yardage/goal-line back with some nice push.
- Michel had an impressive run where it looked like he would be stopped in the backfield but he kept his feet moving.
- Matthews was scolded earlier in practice by receivers coach Chad O’Shea for something, but other than that, he was pretty good this morning.
- Marcus Cannon stayed on the field but he gave way to LaAdrian Waddle at right tackle midway through practice.
Sunday: 9:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m. (pads)
Monday: 7 p.m. (in-stadium practice for season ticket holders and Foxborough residents)