|07.30.14 at 1:18 pm ET|
“I’m feeling good,” said Amendola, who battled injuries throughout 2013, his first season in New England. “I’m running around, feeling real strong, feeling healthy and ready to go.”
Injuries aside, Amendola was able to adapt to the Patriots system, something other receivers have struggled to do. However, Amendola made it clear there’s plenty of work ahead.
“This playbook’s constantly evolving,” Amendola said. “We try to change stuff up every day and progress and get better. I’m learning. Everybody’s out here learning every day, trying to get better. We’re seeing some good things out there. We’re competing. We’re vibing on offense, trying to compete with the defense to try to get better every day.”
There have been some intense battles between the receivers and the defensive backs early in training camp. Amendola said there’s a lot of trash-talking but no lingering hard feelings.
“It’s very competitive. It gets heated at times. But at the end of the day we’re brothers and we’re family,” he said. “Nothing carries over from the field to the locker room, which is huge, very professional. Everybody out here is trying to get better every day. It’s going to get heated, it’s going to get competitive. But at the end of the day, we’re family.
Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is under the microscope after the Patriots selected him in the second round of May’s draft.
“He’s doing well. He’s catching on quickly. I know he’s working really hard,” Amendola said. “The coaches are doing a great job of putting him in a position to learn and to get as many reps as he can and make the throws he needs to make. He’s a rookie. He’s getting better.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.
|07.30.14 at 11:57 am ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up their sixth session of training camp and fourth in pads Wednesday. It was a hot and sweaty morning workout that ran for just over two hours. Here are a few quick notes:
— The following players were not on the field: wide receiver Aaron Dobson (spotted in sweats), defensive back Jemea Thomas, running back Tyler Gaffney, tight end Michael Hoomanwanui, linebacker Deontae Skinner, linebacker Chris White, offensive lineman Bryan Stork, offensive lineman Chris Martin, defensive lineman Dominique Easley (sweats), wide receiver Josh Boyce and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon.
— It was a spirited practice session early on, with the wide receivers and defensive backs spending a lot of time woofing at each other. Cornerback Brandon Browner was in the middle of the action throughout the session. Kenbrell Thompkins and Browner mixed it up in a drill — nothing serious — and Browner extended his hand at the end of the play, Thompkins walked past him without acknowledging it. Later on, Browner was seen having an animated discussion with coaches and other players.
In addition — like Tuesday — there was some good drama in the drills between the rest of the wide receivers and defensive backs. Logan Ryan got away with a hold on Wilson Van Hooser. Danny Amendola made a sweet one-handed grab when going one-on-one against Patrick Chung, and Brandon LaFell made nice grab over the top of Darrelle Revis.
— Later in practice, Browner wrestled a pass away from Thompkins to force a pick.
— It was another day without much contact for tight end Rob Gronkowski. He was in pads with the rest of his teammates and going through drills but wasn’t part of the 7-on-7s or 11-on-11s. He did take his daily one-on-one session with quarterback Tom Brady, while Revis worked in coverage providing some resistance. Likewise, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was back on the field again in pads, but working in a limited capacity, steering clear of the one-on-ones. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Tommy Kelly appeared to get back to full action, working in pads and taking the majority of drills.
— With Boyce out, Roy Finch took plenty of reps while working as a kick returner. Meanwhile, with Stork out, Dan Connolly got in some snaps while working at center with Marcus Cannon at right guard.
— The Patriots cranked up the music at practice, with U2, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.
|07.29.14 at 11:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski has heard the rumblings that his surgically repaired right knee could be a target this season.
But he’s heard those rumblings before, even before his right knee was assaulted by a hit from Cleveland’s T.J. Ward last December.
“It’s the NFL,” Gronkowski said. “You’re hitting every single play, every single down. You an be hit anywhere. So, you just have to be aware of who’s coming at you, where they’re coming at you, you have to make your move, dive, get out of the way, you have to put your shoulder down. Whatever it is, you have to be prepared for anything. It’s the NFL. Everyone’s big, everyone’s fast and everyone can hit.
“Everyone knows that if you’re catching the ball, you can lit up at any time. Up the middle, anywhere, a guy coming from anywhere. You just have to make the play by looking at the guys around you.
“I’m not more conscious about it. Just go out there and do what I do and just basically try to make some plays and just get to the point where I’m not thinking about anything, and just out there and keep on rolling.”
Gronkowski practiced again in pads on Tuesday but was held out again from full 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, instead continuing his work on individual drills, including red zone work with Tom Brady as Bill Belichick looked on closely. Gronkowski said he is really looking forward to the day when he can fully participate again in practice.
|07.29.14 at 9:56 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Brandon LaFell is hardly the first offensive player to come to the Patriots and struggle to get with the system. Even last season, Danny Amendola needed several regular season games under his belt before he was comfortable. It’s no secret that learning the Patriots playbook can be a challenge for any player coming over from another organization.
With the complex offense quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels run, training camp is one of the most important times of the year, especially for wide receivers to get on the same page as their quarterback.
For LaFell, a four-year veteran, he is still in the learning process phase after he was signed by the Patriots on March 17 coming over from Carolina after spending his first four seasons in the NFL with the Panthers. Although it’s only the fifth day of training camp, LaFell feels he is getting better with each passing day.
“I’m getting better and better everyday,” he said. “We put in a lot of plays, every night is study night for me, something I am not used to because in Carolina we ran the same offense for three years so I knew it. It’s a ton of work every night. The more and more I get reps — I started feeling good at the end of minicamp and then we took the long break so now I am trying to get back in the swing of things.”
LaFell, self-admittedly, had a rough first few days of camp with several drops in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 situations, but he’s aware of it and followed that up with a productive day on Tuesday.
“I think I’ve been OK,” said LaFell. “I haven’t been consistent. I started out slow the first couple of days with a few drops, but I picked it up from there so as of now I think I am getting better, but it is still early in camp. I have to learn to be consistent and put good days together back-to-back like the rest of this offense. We need to start putting good days back-to-back and if we continue to that we’ll get better.”
The 6-foot-3, LSU-grad, made possibly the catch of training camp thus far on Tuesday when during passing drills on a deep ball from Brady, he split Malcolm Butler and Nate Ebner in coverage taking the ball away from them in the end zone. The play fired up the offense, Brady in particular, as he met the receiver on his way back to the huddle emphatically patting him on the back.
|07.29.14 at 9:24 pm ET|
FOXBORO — To many who paid close attention to the Patriots offensive line in 2013, it was not a season to remember for Ryan Wendell. His quarterback – Tom Brady – was sacked 40 times in 2013, one shy of his career high of 41 in his first full season of 2001. Many of those pressures came over center where Wendell is not only responsible for calling out protections but helping to protect the middle of the line.
Even Wendell, a man of few words, acknowledged as much Tuesday when asked about it after the team’s third padded practice this summer.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Wendell said. “There’s more than two things, but I think you need to ask coach Belichick about what I need to improve on.”
Bill Belichick obliged Tuesday.
“I think every year you start all over again,” Belichick said when asked about Wendell’s 2013 season. “We all do. Within any year certainly we all have our moments that are good and we have some that aren’t so good that we’d like to have back. So, I’m sure you could find good and bad plays from all of us that have participated ‘ players, coaches, every position, every year.
“I think when you look at the overall performance, the overall projection of where you think the player is going to be based on whatever ‘ his age, his experience, his work ethic, his training or age, whichever way it’s going, there’s a certain projection there but you wait and let it play out. I think that’s where we are in training camp now for really all the players. They’ve all trained, they’ve all been through the spring. They’ve all worked to put themselves in this position. Now we go out there and let them compete and see how it unfolds. I don’t know how it’s going to happen.
“Certainly if we would have projected Ryan Wendell and Steve Neal their rookie years; none of us would have thought [Tom] Brady for that matter. His rookie year, he didn’t do anything either. None of us would have thought that those guys would be the contributors they ended up being. That’s why we go out there and have training camp. That’s what competition is about. Sometimes you find out things differently.”
|07.29.14 at 4:33 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price talk about Darrelle Revis dominating Patriots camp on Tuesday as the team returned to practice in full pads for a third time. Tommy Kelly returned to full pads for the first time since his season-ending injury in 2013 and Ryan Wendell steps up on center stage for the Patriots’ offensive line.
|07.29.14 at 2:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After not practicing with the Patriots for the first four days of training camp and being on the PUP list, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard practiced with the Patriots on Tuesday morning, albeit on a limited basis. He was in pads with the team for the first time since the end of last season as the 24-year-old was recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.
The University of Nebraska product, who has played two seasons and 23 games in the NFL, was limited as he participated in one-on-one drills, but not 7-on-7s or 11-on-11s. Once practice really got going with an emphasis on physical drills, Dennard was off to the side doing sprints and other agility work with a strength and conditioning coach.
Regardless of how much he participated, it was a good sign to have him back on the field.
“It’s good because we all know he is a good player,” safety Duron Harmon said. “I am more worried about him being healthy. He’s a good player, so anytime you get a good player back it’s good.”
It is a crowded Patriots secondary with a number of skilled players battling for playing time. The group includes newcomers Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, who are highly skilled players but are new to the team, so it will take some time for the group as a whole to to jell as one cohesive unit. Getting Dennard back on the field certainly helps that advancement.
“It’s a work in progress,” Harmon said. “We’re just getting better each and every day. We’re dealing with new people so we have to feel out each other, know where they are going to be at and when they are going to be there. Like I said, it is a work in progress, something that we have to continue to get better at each and every day.”
Unlike past years when the team has been forced to use wide receivers Julian Edelman and Troy Brown in the secondary, this year’s team has a lot of depth at the position, meaning the Patriots do not need to think about rushing Dennard back and can take their time with getting him back to full strength.
Dennard has showcased his skills on the field with four career interceptions and 16 career starts, which could give him the upper hand over a few other members of the secondary when it comes to playing time. With Browner suspended for the first four games of the season, Dennard, if healthy, could have the inside track to starting on the opposite side of Revis at cornerback in the first quarter of the season.
Even though the cornerback didn’t come close to any physical action Tuesday, it was a big step in the right direction as the members of the Patriots secondary continue to get to know one another with the hope of being one of the best secondaries in the league.
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