The New England Patriots and Washington Redskins began practicing together this morning, and it sounds like New England had the upper hand. The big news on the injury front is Rob Gronkowski not making the trip to Richmond, which shouldn’t concern us too much. I am sure the Pats are just doing this to be careful, and to make sure Gronk is 100% healthy for the regular season.
Everybody that was present at this practice session seemed extremely impressed with Tom Brady’s offense, as they (typically) sliced up the Skins’ defensive unit. Even without Gronkowski present, Brady was surgical, and his receivers were untouchable, mainly Julian Edelman.
Brady went all surgical during the 2-minute drill vs Washington’s 1s, relying heavily on Edelman, Lafell & Vereen. #PatriotsTalk
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) August 4, 2014
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayCSN) August 4, 2014
Receivers did a nice job getting open and making plays with Brady finding them. Edelman continues to stand out #patriotscamp
— Paul Perillo (@pfwpaul) August 4, 2014
With all the talk this offseason surrounding Gronk, and the Pats’ defense, it is nice to hear that they are receiving production in other places. If Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Shane Vereen, Brandon LaFell, and Kenbrell Thompkins can continue this play into the regular season, this offense will be extremely dangerous. In addition to that, second year man Aaron Dobson has not been cleared yet, and he may end up being the biggest weapon of all. I have high hopes for Brady’s aerial attack for the coming season.
Stevan Ridley also had a good day, as he continues to bolster his case as one of the top running backs in the AFC. If he can get it going in the regular season, and this offense begins clicking on all cylinders, the rest of the NFL better watch out.
Ridley ran really well in 11-on-11s. That was among the list of things worth watching this week, as he relies heavily on contact to show his stuff, and he was their best back on the ground today.
There was not as much hype about New England’s defense coming out of today’s practice, but it seems like they did just fine in corralling Washington. The Pats’ secondary, led by Darrelle Revis, continues to improve as the season nears, and getting some new competition in the Skins will do them some good. Going up against smaller guys like Edelman and Amendola everyday probably gets old, especially for the likes of Brandon Browner, a much bigger corner.
New England’s front seven also did very well, getting some decent pressure on Robert Griffin III durin 11-on-11′s:
Pass rush was terrific during early 11-on-11s. In 1 sequence, Jones batted a pass, teamed w/Hightower for a sack, Ninkovich got a sack.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) August 4, 2014
With an improved secondary behind them, this is the year where Chandler Jones and company should really take off. Opposing quarterbacks will have to hold the ball much longer than in the past, which will give the pass rusher ample time to make a move, and add to their stats.
Finally, one of the biggest question marks on this team (perhaps the only one?), the offensive line.
There were some conflicting reports on how this group did, as some media members said they did well, while others noted they struggled a bit. Here are a few tweets from both sides:
Pats do a good job protecting Brady. Operates in pocket with confidence
— John Keim (@john_keim) August 4, 2014
OL struggled at times, especially the younger guys. Orakpo got the edge a few times in team periods #patriotscamp
— Paul Perillo (@pfwpaul) August 4, 2014
Joint practice concluding. 1-on-1 rush drills caught my eye. Real good test/experience for young Pats OL, who had tough time.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) August 4, 2014
How the offensive line comes together could potentially decide how successful this 2014 season will be. If Tom Brady doesn’t have enough time to survey the defense, and make the correct play, the Pats are toast. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer have the outside covered well, but the inside is not as solid. If Dan Connolly, Ryan Wendell, Jon Halapio, and Bryan Stork (or whoever makes the team) can hold up the inside, this machine will be humming all year long. It sounds like they had a decent day today, with some good and some bad. I for one will be taking that as a positive, just as long as they are making progress.
Here are a few bits of leftover information I want to pass along:
- Multiple reporters noted how physical practice was, which is a testament to how a change of scenery is good in August.
- Tom Brady was razor sharp today. I have a feeling Brady will be on a whole different level this year. He was 16 of 19 in 11-on-11′s.
- Interesting that a Washington reporter said Browner was holding too much. We’ll see if that comes into play when officials are brought in.
- In the Revis vs. Jackson battle, it sounds like Revis won. This comes as no surprise to me.
- Apparently Ryan Mallett had a good day, which is really good for him, because if he wants to start in this league, he needs to prove it in training camp, and in the preseason.