Ten things we learned from Day 6 of Patriots training camp
|08.01.12 at 9:37 pm ET|
FOXBORO ‘ Gillette Stadium filled with 22,633 fans on Wednesday night as season-ticket holders and Foxboro residents watched the Patriots hold a two-hour practice under the lights.
SOLDER AND SPIKES SCRAP
Early in the session, left tackle Nate Solder and Brandon Spikes got into a scuffle. At the end of one running play, Solder blocked Spikes to the ground, and gave him an extra push for good measure. Spikes retaliated, running at Solder and knocking him to the ground drawing a crowd of players from each squad. Solder was sent to run a penalty lap for the incident, while Spikes limped to the locker room with a trainer. Spikes soon returned to practice though and did not appear injured.
Other New England players who did not practice on Wednesday were Alfonzo Dennard, Tracy White, Nick McDonald, Logan Mankins, Sebastian Vollmer, Jeremy Ebert, Daniel Fells, Myron Pryor, Nate Ebner, Markus Zusevics and Jonathan Fanene. Brian Waters and Jake Ballard were absent again, while Ebner, Ebert and Zusevics were all seen wearing shorts on the sideline.
Among the more notable absences of the day were Lloyd and Connolly, who were each absent for the first time this training camp. Connolly’s absence make four potential starting linemen who have missed at least one day of training camp this year, as Waters has not arrived at camp while Mankins and Vollmer have not practiced due to injury.
RECEIVERS VS. CORNERS
In the one-on-one matchups between receivers and cornerbacks in the end zone, Wes Welker emerged as the most consistent star of the group, beating Kyle Arrington all four times for scores. Each time, Welker cut to the outside, catching the ball before the pylon and cutting back into the end zone after the catch.
Matthew Slater and Ras-I Dowling had a very competitive matchup, with each of them made a nice play in the battle. Dowling swatted the ball out of Slater’s hands in the pair’s first matchup to prevent a score. However, on the next play Slater shed the press coverage, made a move to the inside and was wide open in the corner of the end zone for the score.
DONTE’ STALLWORTH SEES MORE TIME WITH FIRST TEAM
With Lloyd absent from Wednesday’s practice, Donte’ Stallworth saw an increase of reps with the first team and performed well on the day. The 10th year man out of Tennessee saw a lot of time as an outside receiver opposite of Jabar Gaffney and consistently made plays in the end zone, including a nice catch in his matchup with Sterling Moore.
SAFETIES VS. RUNNING BACKS
Eric Kettani, the fullback who served in the Navy last season, looked good in a one-on-one drill between the safeties and the running backs. Kettani made a few nice cuts to get open and make catches, while serving as a good pass protector for the quarterback.
While Stevan Ridley was not perfect in the drill — he was beaten in pass protection by Tavon Wilson — the second-year running back made a nice cut and catch to beat Dowling.
Ridley appeared to take the most reps with the first team in red-zone runs, rushing the ball between the tackles for a few scores during the drill. On one play, Ridley skipped over a fallen lineman and scampered ten yards through the middle of the defense for a score.
Besides Ridley, Brandon Bolden has continued to impress during training camp, as he took the ball to the end zone a few times during second-team red-zone rushes. His best run came on a counter play that fooled the defense enough to give him plenty of space for the score.
KOPPEN HAS A LONG DAY
Dan Koppen looked like an angry player on the field on Wednesday as he got into two separate fights. The 10th-year man out of Boston College got in a disagreement with Dane Fletcher in a running back drill before taking on James Ihedigbo in a later drill. Both incidents had to be broken up by other teammates. While Koppen has been one of the offensive line’s constants over the last decade, the center took second-team reps on Wednesday as Ryan Wendell took reps at center with the first team.
THOMAS TAKES ON LARGER ROLE
With Connolly absent from practice, Robert Gallery slid into Connolly’s regular spot at right guard, leaving the left guard open for Donald Thomas. The lineman out of UConn was up and down in the practice, and was relatively even with Brandon Deaderick in one-on-one drills. He and Wendell let Chandler Jones move past them during one two-on-two drill, but otherwise did a good job working as a unit.
It was a tough day for Ryan Mallett, who struggled in the red zone passing drills. In the one-on-one drills between receivers and defensive backs, Mallett struggled to connect with his receivers, particularly Britt Davis, as he overthrew and underthrew a couple of touch passes.
Mallett’s day did not get much better though, as he threw two interceptions at the goal line during red-zone passing drills. The former Arkansas quarterback tried to sneak a pass to Aaron Hernandez at the end zone before Arrington jumped the route and grabbed the pass for the pick. Later, Mallett held the ball too long under pressure and tossed the ball into the outstretched arms of linebacker Bobby Carpenter for another interception.
Mallett did have a few highlights on the day though, which included a bullet pass to Davis in the back corner of the endzone that split between two defensive backs.
Among the Patriots to take penalty laps for false starts or offsides on Wednesday were Jermaine Cunningham, Fletcher, Marcus Fortson, Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Darrion Weems, Deaderick and Justin Francis. Gronkowski and Thomas both had a false start at the same time and took their punishment together.
During Gronkowski’s second penalty lap, the fans by the end zone he was running too began cheering for him. As Bill Belichick pointed out before the practice, ‘That’s not what they’re doing [penalty laps] for.’