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Friday practice report: Patriots endure rain-soaked opening of training camp

07.26.13 at 1:32 pm ET

FOXBORO — The Patriots held their first practice of the summer on Friday morning. In a steady rain, the session went for two hours, and was held in front of a rain-soaked crowd of spectators on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. Here are a few quick notes:

1. As expected, tight end Rob Gronkowski wasn’t on the field, as well as defensive linemen Armond Armstead and Cory Grissom. Meanwhile, wide receivers Julian Edelman, Mark Harrison and Kenbrell Thompkins and offensive lineman Nick McDonald were present, but not in uniform. And defensive back Devin McCourty was wearing a red non-contact jersey.

2. The top play for the defense likely came when defensive end Chandler Jones dove to scoop up a short pass from quarterback Tim Tebow toward the end of practice. A nifty acrobatic play that drew cheers from the rain-soaked crowd that was in attendance. Other defensive plays that stood out in between the raindrops were an excellent pass breakup by Aqib Talib on a Tom Brady pass meant for rookie receiver Aaron Dobson. And rookie linebacker Jamie Collins made a nice play on a Ryan Mallett pass for Michael Hoomanawanui. (Despite the fact that he was wearing a red noncontact jersey, McCourty was in on a batted pass, and nearly came away with a nice pick.)

3. A few other defensive notes, at least when it comes to personnel combinations with what looked to be the starting defense: One, Tommy Kelly spent a lot of time up front next to Vince Wilfork. Two, McCourty saw a rotating cast next to him at safety (a group that included Steve Gregory and Adrian Wilson). Three, Collins got in a few reps in place of Brandon Spikes, and looked comfortable when he was out on the field. And four, the starting corners — Talib and Alfonzo Dennard, with Kyle Arrington in the slot — were on the field at the same time during the 11-on-11s.

4. Offensively, it was an interesting day, with Tebow making some news when he lined up and caught a pass as part of a drill. (It should be noted that the pass catching took place in a drill, and not on 7-on-7s or 11-on-11s.) Tebow also scrambled a bit during the 7-on-7 passing drills, and bounced one later in practice. The former Florida QB also threw a ball right to defensive back Nate Ebner in one 11-on-11 drill. He did make a nice connection with wide receiver Kamar Aiken on a ball that drew some cheers.

5. Two pass catchers really stood out: One, Aiken had a handful of nice catches on the session, and made his case on the first day of camp to be included in any discussion about wide receiver depth. A good day for him. Meanwhile, Dobson spent a lot of time running with a reasonable facsimile of the starting offense. It looked like he spent time in the slot, but didn’t look overwhelmed at all in his first full training camp workout. Singling these two out doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the group did poorly — Danny Amendola and Jake Ballard also had some nice moments, with Ballard in particular making a nice catch down the sideline on a pass from Brady. (Josh Boyce was also on the field with the starters for a spell.) Instead, those were the two who distinguished themselves.

6. On the offensive line, Marcus Cannon got in a lot of work with the starting o-line at right guard. And Leon Washington and Matthew Slater got in most of the reps as kick returners, and Slater was able to break a few for what could have been longer gains.



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