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10 things we learned Friday from Patriots training camp

08.17.12 at 5:13 pm ET
By

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their last public practice Friday, as fans got their last free look at the defending AFC champions as they prepare to host the Eagles Monday night.

Here are 10 things we learned as the Pats get ready for their second preseason game and Gillette Stadium gets ready for Bruce Springsteen:

ROLL CALL

The following players were in sweats for the Patriots: Jabar Gaffney, Stevan Ridley, Alfonzo Dennard, James Ihedigbo, Spencer Larsen, Tracy White, Markus Zusevics, Kyle Hix, Sebastian Vollmer, Daniel Fells and Myron Pryor.

The players not spotted at practice were: Tavon Wilson, Matt Kopa, Jake Ballard, Gerard Warren and Jonathan Fanene.

JEFF DEMPS ISN’T HERE (YET)

Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio wouldn’t comment on any transactions, but word emerged out of Florida on Friday (Fox 13’s Kevin O’Donnell) that New England had signed silver medal-winning Olympic sprinter Jeff Demps. According to multiple reports, Demps was not in town Friday because he was signing his contract in Florida.

Demps, who played running back at the University of Florida, could also serve as a kick returner for New England. Having been timed in the 40-yard dash below a 4.20, the 5-foot-7 Demps should easily be the fastest player on the team, but speed doesn’t always lead to success. Just ask Chad Jackson or Bethel Johnson.

TY LAW PAYS A VISIT

Patriots legend Ty Law took in practice Friday, as he is in town thanks to an indoor trampoline facility he is opening up. The longtime Pats’ cornerback mostly checked out practice from outside the field, but could be seen on the field chatting with Tom Brady, among others.

WELKER LEAVES EARLY

Without any noticeable injury or any sign of being encumbered, receiver Wes Welker walked off the field, at 2:59 p.m., about an hour and a half into practice. To the naked eye, there didn’t appear to be anything worrying about.

JONES GIVES PUBLIC SOMETHING TO REMEMBER

The last play of open camp was something the fans on hand would certainly view as a highlight, as Chandler Jones — the same Chandler Jones who is supposed to be the answer to the Patriots’ pass rush blues — fielded a punt. Not only did he field the punt, but he did so cleanly. This led to gigantic cheers from both fans and every Patriots player on the field.

It turns out the players were cheering for good reason. At stake on the play was their time Friday night, and Jones catching the punt meant they got the night off.

UP-AND-DOWN DAY FOR LLOYD

While Jones catching the punt secured that he would be the newcomer that stole the show on Friday, free agent receiver Brandon Lloyd had a bit of an interesting day. The veteran receiver turned in some truly sensational catches — he made a one-handed grab in the back of the end zone (it would have been out of bounds, but still) on a pass from Brady and also beat Devin McCourty on a deep ball — but also had some down moments.

One of those came on a deep ball from Brady that Lloyd completely let go through his hands in the end zone. Lloyd was in double coverage (Josh Barrett and Ross Ventrone) on the play, but he was a step ahead of both defenders and saw the ball all the way into — make that through — his hands. Lloyd also dropped an easy pass from Brady that did not come against any defenders.

BRADY, LLOYD, GRONKOWSKI GET CLIQUEY

In a sign that they might not be spending too much time on the field Monday, Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Lloyd spent time on one of the two practice fields all by themselves, with Brady throwing passes to his weapons without the presence of any defenders.

Lloyd wasn’t the only culprit of some head-scratching drops on the day, and Gronkowski put himself among the other guilty parties while the three were working together. The tight end would either run a route unencumbered or deal with a blocking pad before breaking into his route, and he ended up with a pair of drops during the session.

LADY LUCK PICKS EBNER, WHO PICKS EVERYONE ELSE

Balls that weren’t thrown near Nate Ebner found their way to him Friday, and the rookie defensive back got a couple of picks as a result. First, a ball thrown by Brian Hoyer went off the hands of the intended receiver (Jesse Holley) and hanged around long enough for the former rugby player to get the pick, and Ebner got his second interception of the day when Alex Silvestro tipped Ryan Mallett‘s pass. Ebner nearly had a third pick, but the ball hit him in the feet.

EDELMAN HAS A CASE OF THE MUFFDAYS

Julian Edelman was one of five players to work as punt returners Friday (with the other four being Aaron Hernandez, Welker, Deion Branch and Jeremy Ebert) had a rough go of it. The veteran receiver/special teamer/occasional defensive back muffed two punts during return drills.

MANKINS GOES OUT FOR A COUPLE OF PASSES

Guard Logan Mankins must be pretty happy to be back on the field, as he jokingly went out for a couple of passes while the two lines were working against one another. The drill didn’t feature a quarterback, but an offensive lineman did toss a pass Mankins’ way.

Mankins is coming off a torn right ACL, an injury he suffered prior to the Super Bowl. After starting the preseason on the physically unable to perform list, Mankins returned to practice on Sunday and began participating in full pads on Tuesday.

Read More: 2012 Training Camp, Nate Ebner, Ty Law,
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