New England Patriots Training Camp: Observations from Day 4

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Rob Ninkovich
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 05: Rob Ninkovich /

Another day of training camp is in the books for the New England Patriots. We recap all the action.

With four sessions under their belt, it’s safe to say the New England Patriots are officially back to football. The team strapped on their pads and hit the field for their fourth day of training camp Sunday morning.

Here’s what we learned from Day 4 of Patriots training camp:

After missing the first three days of training camp, the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe reported on Sunday morning that veteran defensive end Rob Ninkovich will hang up his cleats for good.

Ninkovich amassed 469 tackles, 46 sacks, twelve forced fumbles, and five interceptions in eight seasons with New England. The two-time Super Bowl champion won’t soon be forgotten in Foxborough.

According to the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels, safety Duron Harmon and wide receiver Cody Hollister were both absent from Sunday’s practice. Hollister missed Day 3 after suffering an injury on Friday and Harmon was shaken up during yesterday’s practice. The team is likely taking the needed precautions to maintain each player’s health.

Defensive end Kony Ealy — who was held out of Thursday’s practice — had a “lengthy conversation” with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady, per NESN’s Zack Cox. Ealy’s non-participation in the team’s first practice was labeled a decision by head coach Bill Belichick.

Wide receivers Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell spent time on a separate field for conditioning, according to WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. The team continues to ease Amendola and Mitchell back into practice, keeping their long-term health in mind. Hannable also noted an unidentified new wide receiver wearing jersey-number 16. With Hollister’s injury, Andrew Hawkins’ retirement, and Amendola and Mitchell’s limited participation, the team is extremely thin at wide receiver.

Zack Cox noted the “standout play” of the day was tight end Rob Gronkowski hauling in a catch from Tom Brady versus safety Jordan Richards. In yesterday’s practice, Richards got the best of Brady and Gronk, snatching a pass and collecting his third interception of the summer.

New England Patriots
New England Patriots /

New England Patriots

According to MassLive’s Kevin Duffy, Geneo Grissom saw more reps at defensive end opposite Trey Flowers. He’ll continue to see time with the first team defense with Ninkovich announcing his retirement. Cornerback Jonathan Jones also continued to contribute with the starting defense, per Mark Daniels. Jones leads Justin Coleman and Cyrus Jones in the battle for New England’s fourth cornerback spot.

Daniels also noted that cornerback Cyrus Jones put in some work with punter Ryan Allen. Cyrus aims to erase his continued struggles with muffed punts. Wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman, along with running back Dion Lewis also served as returners.

Kevin Duffy pointed out that defensive end Trey Flowers was “stonewalled” by offensive guard Joe Thuney. In addition, defensive tackle Malcom Brown got the best of fellow 2015 draft pick, offensive guard Shaq Mason.

Duffy also reported that safety Patrick Chung stopped running back Brandon Bolden on the goal line during eleven-on-eleven drills. Bolden left Saturday’s practice early with an injury, so his participation is a sign he’s good to go.

Following practice, several Patriot players attended Rob Ninkovich’s retirement presser. NESN’s Doug Kyed shared this photo of the “packed house” including coach Belichick seated on the floor:

Kyed also shared this photo of Ninkovich at the podium:

Quarterback results from Day 4 are below, courtesy of Doug Kyed:

Related Story: Patriots Training Camp: Observations from Day 3

According to the Patriots website, New England will have Monday off then return on Tuesday for Day 5 of training camp. Check back on Tuesday for more observations.