Ten things we learned from Day 4 of Patriots training camp
|07.29.12 at 6:20 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the second straight day, the Patriots took the practice field Sunday afternoon in full pads. The large crowd of fans that braved the threatening gray skies were treated to a two-hour-plus practice complete with some great hitting, particularly in the one-on-one drills.
In the offensive and defensive linemen battles, Robert Gallery was solid, holding his ground against Gerard Warren and Jeremiah Warren and overpowering Justin Francis. After receiving most of the reps with the first team at left guard earlier in the week, Gallery was replaced on Sunday by Ryan Wendell. While Wendell struggled during the one-on-one battles, much of that may be attributed to the fact that twice he drew the unlucky matchup of Vince Wilfork.
Chandler Jones showed a few impressive pass rush moves but also struggled in his battles, including drawing a penalty lap for jumping offside against Aaron Hernandez. Third-year end Jermaine Cunningham, in need of an impressive camp after a disappointing sophomore season, struggled in his one-on-one drills.
BIG HIT OF THE DAY
Jerod Mayo absolutely steamrolled Danny Woodhead in pass-blocking drills involving linebackers and running backs. After burying Woodhead in the ground, Mayo continued into a group of running backs standing behind the drill and shoved Stevan Ridley. A close second for the hit of the day came from rookie Don’t’a Hightower, who knocked Eric Kettani onto his back and charged into running backs coach Ivan Fears, knocking Fears down in the process as well.
For the fourth straight day, Matthew Slater and James Ihedigbo both wore red non-contact jerseys. Once again, however, the two participated in every drill, and Ihedigbo even got knocked on his back by receiver Britt Davis during one drill.
PLAY OF THE DAY
Tom Brady and Brandon Lloyd connected on a number of big pass plays Sunday afternoon, but the day’s biggest ovation came after a 50-yard flea-flicker touchdown pass from Brady (via Ridley) to Lloyd over the middle. Ridley and Woodhead split most of the first team snaps, while Shane Vereen, rookie Brandon Bolden and Woodhead all took turns with the second and third teams.
One day removed from suffering a cut on his chin, Rob Gronkowski struggled to hold on to the football, missing at least three catches, including one over the middle that bounced off his hands and into Patrick Chung‘s for an interception. Another drop came in a goal-line situation where Gronkowski got open for a sure touchdown only to have the ball once again bounce off of his hands.
BOLDEN CONTINUES TO IMPRESS
Rookie running back Brandon Bolden was decisive in his cuts, and while he likely won’t start this season, he is putting together a very solid training camp. The undrafted Mississippi product showed impressive toughness breaking through the line for a goal-line score with the third team offense during drills Sunday afternoon.
EDELMAN BUSY, FEISTY
Despite fielding punts, returning kicks and running patterns, Julian Edelman still had enough energy to get into a scuffle with cornerback Ras-I Dowling during wide receiver blocking drills. The short-lived confrontation drew cheers from the crowd before the players quickly returned to their huddles. Edelman delivered another hard block, this time to Marquice Cole, on his very next time through the drill.
CHUNG ASSUMES LEADERSHIP ROLE IN SECONDARY
At the conclusion of the same drill, Chung called rookie safety Tavon Wilson over for some post-drill coaching. Chung will be an important leader for a secondary that desperately needs to improve on last year’s performance.
MAYO LATEST TO FILL IN AS PERSONAL PROTECTOR FOR PUNTS
After special teams coach Steve O’Brien told the media, “You can never have enough [punt protectors],” during his press conference Sunday morning, Mayo joined Woodhead, Steve Gregory and Chung as the latest to appear at the position.
QUARTERBACKS SHARP IN 7-ON-7
In 7-on-7 drills, the Pats quarterbacks all turned in solid performances. Brady was 6-for-9, finishing with a touchdown pass to Lloyd, while Brian Hoyer was 9-for-9, including a touchdown to Deion Branch, and Ryan Mallett was 5-for-6, showing nice touch with a perfectly placed lob to Tyler Urban in the corner of the end zone.