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Ten things we learned from Day 3 of Patriots training camp

07.28.12 at 5:33 pm ET
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Brandon Lloyd and Tom Brady chat during a break in the action. (AP)

FOXBORO – Tom Brady, Brandon Lloyd, and Robert Gallery all spoke to the media following a two-hour-plus session on the practice fields outside Gillette Stadium on Saturday. Here is the list of players who were not in attendance or were limited during the practice.

• Like the two previous days, Matthew Slater and James Ihedigbo both wore the same red non-contact jerseys that the quarterbacks wear. The two both participated in every drill, though, and Ihedigbo even took a block from Julian Edelman during one drill.

• Also like the first two days of camp, Brian Waters and Jake Ballard were not present Saturday. However, Myron Pryor was at camp in shorts and a T-shirt after not being in attendance the day before.

• Joining Pryor in shorts on the sideline were Nate Ebner, Nick McDonald, Markus Zusevics, Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, Jeremy Ebert, Daniel Fells and Alfonzo Dennard.

BUMPS AND BRUISES

Three Patriots left the field during training camp on Saturday and only one returned. Rob Gronkowski left the field holding his face midway through practice but returned 15 minutes later with a bandage on his chin.

However, linebacker Tracy White and defensive end Justin Francis did not return from the injuries they received on Saturday. Francis was carted off holding his left leg around 15 minutes after Gronkowski left the field, while White left the field with an unknown injury.

PLAY OF THE DAY

The biggest ovation of the day from the fans came following a great catch by Brandon Lloyd along the sidelines where he jumped and caught the ball directly over Sterling Moore’s head. Brady threw the ball over Moore’s head around 20 yards down the field. It looked like it might have been broken up, but Lloyd reached his arms around Moore to grab the ball, making a secure catch away from his body.

Lloyd was not done, as he made a few other highlight-reel-worthy catches as the practice went on. On one off-target throw from Ryan Mallett, Lloyd reached back and tipped the ball toward himself before sliding and catching the ball on his chest with three defenders surrounding him.

ONE-ON-ONE BATTLES

One of the highlights of the afternoon was watching the one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive linemen in the corner of the practice field. There were some great matchups, including where one where rookie Chandler Jones was able to beat left tackle Nate Solder coming off the edge, while right tackle Marcus Cannon was able to ride Jermaine Cunningham off the opposite edge and out of the play on another sequence. In addition, defenders picked up two more wins when Rob Ninkovich was able to display excellent speed in beating Matt Kopa off the edge  and Brandon Deaderick showed a great burst up the middle in getting past Ryan Wendell. (The offensive linemen would get their revenge when Dan Koppen easily handled Marcus Forston on one play and Jeremiah Warren was able to contain Gerard Warren on another.)

FIRST BIG HIT OF CAMP

On the first day of training camp with full pads, Ras-I Dowling delivered the first big tackle of the day, as he leveled Stevan Ridley on an outside run. Ridley took another blow the play afterward, when Patrick Chung wrapped him up and brought him to the ground. Dowling took first-team reps as the cornerback opposite Devin McCourty on defense during the 11-on-11 drills.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSIVE LINE

With Mankins and Vollmer sidelined, the offensive line featured what appeared to be a first-team unit of Solder at left tackle, Gallery at left guard, Koppen at center, Dan Connolly at right guard and Cannon at right tackle. With Connolly playing guard in the place of the absent Waters, Wendell served as the backup center to Koppen.

McCOURTY GETS A SWAT

While Lloyd continued to get open almost every play, McCourty was the first defender to make a defensive swat to break up the connections between the quarterbacks and Lloyd. On a play similar to the one Lloyd beat Moore on, McCourty stayed with the receiver out of Illinois before throwing his left arm up and slapping the ball away. (McCourty, who played some safety at the end of last season, has been playing cornerback throughout camp.)

RIDLEY TAKES FIRST-TEAM REPS

Ridley was taking reps with the first-team offense on Saturday and looked good while running through contact during 11-on-11 drills. The second-year running back out of LSU made a couple of good runs during the non-contact drills, and he found holes and absorbed contact well during the full-contact drills.

Ridley did not look as comfortable coming out of the backfield as a receiver as Vereen or Danny Woodhead, and he dropped a ball during the catching drills. However, later in 11-on-11 drills, Ridley took a screen pass and cut through the defense for a big gain.

THAT OTHER RUNNING BACK OUT OF OLE MISS

While Ridley was taking first-team reps at running back, undrafted rookie Brandon Bolden was impressive running the ball against the second-team defense. The Ole Miss product had at least two runs in which he cut through holes in the defense and sprinted into open field, where he would have certainly had a run of over 20 yards. Bolden also did not look bad receiving the ball, as he did not drop a pass throughout the practice.

NINKOVICH SHINES AS EDGE RUSHER

While Jones looks to be part of the solution for the Patriots’ edge rush this season, Ninkovich showed that he could play a significant role in that aspect of the defense. Ninkovich beat Kopa during the individual one-on-one drills, and he beat Solder during the 11-on-11 drills and would have gotten a shot at the quarterback had he not been against Brady. The play looked good for the offense as Gronkowski caught the pass over Jerod Mayo’s head, but Ninkovich would have almost certainly disrupted the connection.

PENALTY LAPS

Ron Brace, Dan Koppen, Jermaine Cunningham, offensive lineman Jamey Richard and defensive lineman Marcus Forston ran laps for committing penalties during the day.

Read More: 2012 Training Camp,
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