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Tuesday practice notes: Offense crisper as Patriots go through another padded workout

07.30.13 at 5:39 pm ET

FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up their fifth practice of the summer Tuesday afternoon, a session that ran for just over two hours on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. On a great afternoon for football, the players were in pads for the third consecutive workout. Here are a few quick notes:

‘€¢The following players were spotted on the field in sweats but did not take part in practice: tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receivers Aaron Dobson, Julian Edelman and Mark Harrison, defensive lineman Cory ‘€œPork Chop’€ Grissom and offensive lineman Nick McDonald. Meanwhile, running back Brandon Bolden and defensive lineman Armond Armstead were not present. (It was the first missed practice of the summer for Dobson, who was spotted on the field about halfway through practice.) And defensive back Devin McCourty was in a red non-contact jersey.

‘€¢Dobson walked on the field in shorts and a t-shirt about halfway through practice. There were no casts, wraps on walking boots in sight, so take that for what it’€™s worth. But it’€™s absolutely paramount he gets back on the field as soon as possible — rookie receivers need all the reps they can get, especially at this time of year.

‘€¢In the final few moments of practice, running back Stevan Ridley was coming over the middle and was caught awkwardly by cornerback Kyle Arrington. Ridley hit the ground hard, and appeared to take exception to the shot. The two did some pushing and shoving, but were quickly separated. After practice, Ridley simply shrugged and said, ‘€œThat’€™s camp, man. That’€™s camp.’€

‘€¢In a passing drill at the start of the session that featured Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow throwing to receivers in single coverage, Mallett had a string of bad luck as first Matthew Slater and then Kenbrell Thompkins dropped deep balls. Cornerback Ras-I Dowling stood out in that drill for a couple of reasons, including the fact that he got a really nice jam on Michael Jenkins and didn’€™t allow the receiver to get any sort of separation off the line. (Stephon Morris also had a nice pass breakup on another ball intended for Thompkins.) Highlights for the offense included an impressive reception from Danny Amendola in a ball from Mallett, while Tebow found Lavelle Hawkins on a deep ball down the sidelines, a connection that took place over defensive back Logan Ryan.

‘€¢Following the early drop, Thompkins appeared to rebound, and looked sharp for the rest of the afternoon, with the highlight coming in 7-on-7 work when he made a nice catch between two defenders. We wondered how Thompkins would respond after encountering some issues in Monday’€™s in-stadium practice, but it appears that he bounced back nicely on Tuesday.

‘€¢There was some shuffling along the right side of the offensive line. As was the case through the previous four practices this summer, Marcus Cannon started in place of Dan Connolly at the right guard spot, but the Patriots changed it up at that position, moving Tyronne Green into the starting lineup for a stretch at that spot for the first time all summer (by my recollection, anyway). In addition, Kevin Haslam and Marcus Zusevics worked with the starters at right tackle, giving Sebastian Vollmer a breather.

‘€¢The offensive highlight of the day came toward the end of the workout. In a goal-line situation in 11-on-11s, tight end Zach Sudfeld made a diving, one-handed catch in the corner of the end zone over Adrian Wilson, drawing cheers from the fans. Sudfeld hasn’€™t reinvented the position — he dropped what would have been a touchdown pass earlier in the afternoon — but continues to be a consistent presence in the Patriots offense, and could force New England into placing him on the 53-man roster, lest he is exposed to waivers if they tried to get him through to the practice squad.

‘€¢Talking about tight ends, it’€™s clear that Brady and Daniel Fells have a pretty good connection. The quarterback found him a couple of times in passing drills, and Fells showed a steadiness and consistency — as he has done through most of the first five practices this summer.

‘€¢One other offensive highlight came when Matthew Slater hauled in a sweet pass from Brady early in the day, beating Talib in the corner of the end zone.

‘€¢Adrian Wilson blocked a field goal at the end of practice.

Read More: 2013 training camp,



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