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Friday night practice notes: Backup QBs in spotlight

08.01.14 at 8:30 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up their annual in-stadium practice session Friday evening on front of a sizable crowd Foxboro residents, season ticketholders and those who ended up sticking around after the Ty Law Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The workout ran for roughly 90 minutes, and was held in full pads — it was the eighth camp session of the summer for the Patriots, the sixth one in full pads, and the final workout before the team heads for Richmond and joint practices with the Redskins next week in the days leading up to the preseason opener.

Here are a few quick notes:

— The following players were not in pads with the rest of their teammates for the session: wide receiver Aaron Dobson, defensive back Jemea Thomas, running back Tyler Gaffney, linebacker Cameron Gordon, linebacker Deontae Skinner, tight end Michael Hoomanawanui, offensive lineman Chris Martin, defensive lineman Dominique Easley and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon.

— A large part of the evening session was given over to the backup quarterbacks, with Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo getting the bulk of the work. Maybe it was just because the news broke earlier in the day the Patriots had kicked the tires on veteran quarterback Brady Quinn, but it was interesting to see Tom Brady‘s two backups get so much work in what really amounted to a high-profile practice session.

— In 7-on-7s near the start of the workouts, Garoppolo got the majority of reps, and was up and down. Malcolm Butler had a nice pass breakup on a ball from Garoppolo meant for Derrick Johnson. On the next play,. he failed to connect with D.J. Williams. On the third attempt, he made a nice connection on a comeback route along the sidelines for his pal Brian Tyms, and followed that up with a sharp looking pass to Roy Finch.

— In 11-on-11s midway through practice, Finch caught a nice little dump off from Mallett, but went crashing out of bounds, careening into a handful of players. He collided with Davis on the sidelines, and both of them stayed down for a stretch. Davis was eventually helped to his feet, but Finch stayed down for an extended stretch before being helped to his feet, and then, leaving for the locker room. In the same series of 11-on-11s, Logan Ryan picked off Mallett, and the backup quarterback also overthrew Johnson.

— In the next 11-on-11 session — after a brief break for kick return an kick coverage work — Mallett looked efficient working the backup offense down the field, making a good connection with Wilson Van Hooser. (It was interesting to see rookie tackle Cameron Fleming working as right tackle with what appeared to be the No. 2 unit.) Garoppolo followed that up with an uneven performance — on one play, the pocket broke down and he scrambled away before overthrowing Asa Watson. Garoppolo ended the session by overthrowing running back Stephen Houston. After that, it was mostly handoffs. An uneven performance for the backup QBs, and Garoppolo in particular.

— No contact in the 11-on-11s for Rob Gronkowski, but he continues to look good in his routes, running and cutting and not looking constricted in the drill work.

— As has been the case since he returned to the field, Matthew Slater was running with the wide receivers in the drills. In year’s past — if memory serves — Slater has also spent time working out with the defensive backs as well. In that same vein, fullback James Develin continues to work with the tight ends as opposed to the rest of the backs.

— When it comes to Slater, he and Kanorris Davis were probably the two hardest working guys on the field through the first part of the session. Under the guidance of special teams coach Scotty O’Brien, the two were running sideline-to-sideline, looking like they were working on gunning/coverage work. Davis is an intriguing prospect — he spent some time on the active roster and the practice squad over the last year plus, and distinguished himself as someone who isn’t afraid to throw his body around with near reckless abandoned. (Fans may remember Brandon McGowan with the same approach a few years ago — Davis has the same sort of playing style.)

Travis Hawkins, Josh Boyce and Slater appeared to get the majority of work in kick return drills. Hawkins, who returned kicks as a collegian at Delaware, displayed a nice field awareness, and didn’t appear overwhelmed by the spotlight. If he’s able to continue on the same track that he’s been on over the course of the summer, he could figure into the mix as a possible backup kick returner.

— It appeared that Bill Belichick spent the majority of the session on the sidelines talking with Law and Rodney Harrison.

Read More: 2014 training camp,
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