The New England Patriots put the pads on for the first time in 2014 this morning, which gives us a chance to see how they will actually look in a few weeks. Practicing without the pads is great, but you can’t tell how good this team will really be until they do some hitting.
Let’s start off with the attendance report, from Doug Kyed of NESN.
Daxton Swanson and Marcus Cannon haven’t been spotted at #Patriots training camp practice so far.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) July 26, 2014
Greg Orton, Dobson, Slater, Jemea Thomas, Dennard, Deontae Skinner, Chris Martin, Easley, Gallon also not practicing.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyedNESN) July 26, 2014
He later mentions that Cannon did in fact show up to practice, albeit evidently late.
With the pads finally on, the competitions begin to start heating up, mainly the offensive, and defensive lines. These guys can’t do much without the pads, so nobody can separate themselves from the pack until now. The two key guys we will all be watching is Ryan Wendell, and Dan Connolly. Both may not make the final roster, due to the two rookies, Bryan Stork and Jon Halapio, charging behind them.
Based on what was reported at camp today, Chandler Jones and Dan Connolly stood out, which in my opinion is very surprising. Connolly really slipped up last year, and I honestly thought he didn’t have a chance at making the final roster. Especially with his ridiculous contract.
But a good camp could save his job, and starting off well in 1-on-1′s is how you do that. As for Jones, I am not surprised one bit, as he is slowly progressing, and I am confident in saying that he will eventually end up as one of the best in the game.
Today’s full-pads practice featured the first 1-on-1 drills of camp. DE Chandler Jones & RG Dan Connolly among the top performers.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) July 26, 2014
Michael Giardi of CSNNE also mentioned that Jake Bequette, and Michael Buchanan did well in these drills. Buchanan is a player that must play well this year, as the Patriots are counting on him to be a solid backup rusher to not only give Jones and Ninkovich breaks, but also perhaps give them another pass rushing option on third downs.
Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald also pointed out that Brandon Bolden continues to struggle, which opens up the fourth running back spot on the roster. Doug Kyed mentions that Roy Finch has looked good, so he may be able to beat out Bolden for that fourth slot on the roster. That is certainly a battle we will continue to keep an eye on.
Oh, Brandon Bolden had a drop in the walkthrough portion of practice. Really not having a good run here.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) July 26, 2014
Now to what we all have been waiting for: Darrelle Revis.
Revis was brought to New England to be a shutdown corner, and today in camp, he proved he still has it. He picked off Tom Brady two times, once in 1-on-1′s, and the other in 11-on-11′s. Both times Julian Edelman was the intended receiver.
Crowd here at Patriots training camp getting a first-hand glimpse of Revis Island. Two picks for Revis (both Brady attempts to Edelman). — Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) July 26, 2014
Revis hadn’t looked “amazing” before this, but everybody knew it was simply because they had yet to put the pads on. Now that they are in real football gear, Revis is back to his dominating ways. I can’t wait to see him terrorizing other teams in a few weeks, rather than his own teammates.
As expected, Rob Gronkowski was limited once again, which is part of his recovery program. He is cleared to play, but is not 100% yet, and New England probably doesn’t want to rush him back and cause another injury. They are easing him in, and I think it is the right thing to do.
Here are some final bits and pieces of information I would like to pass along:
After performing extremely well in the first two days of practice, Kenbrell Thompkins came back to earth a bit. While he didn’t struggle, he did drop a few balls.
Here are the quarterback numbers from 11-on-11′s.
It was noted that cornerback Logan Ryan stood out in 1-on-1′s, as well as defensive tackle Sealver Siliga, who is an underrated player that may be forced to contribute quite a bit throughout the season.
Jimmy Garoppolo continues to struggle.
In addition to Revis and Ryan, Danny Amendola, and James White stood out according to Ben Volin.
Jeff Howe once again comes through with Brady’s targets during the 11-on-11 work. I think these numbers prove that Edelman and Amendola are the top two options in this offense (without Gronkowski), and until Aaron Dobson returns, the third spot is up for grabs.
Brady’s targets in 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s: Edelman (4 of 5), Amendola (3 of 3), White (2 of 2), LaFell (1 of 4), D.J. Williams (1 of 1), Boyce (0 of 2), Kenbrell Thompkins (1 of 1), Michael Hoomanawanui (1 of 1), Vereen (1 of 1).
And finally, a nice moment after practice, as the team brought Danny Nickerson into the team’s huddle.