FOXBORO — Seven days into training camp and five days of padded practices hitting the same players over and over again is bound to get repetitive and frustrating for some at times. This is what occurred Wednesday with Kenbrell Thompkins and Brandon Browner when the two had a spirited exchange during a 1-on-1 drill.
Following practices Thursday and Friday, the team will get a break from hitting each other when they have a week of practice with the Redskins leading up to the first preseason game next Thursday night in Washington. This is something many of the players are looking forward to.
“Yeah, it is getting to that point,” safety Devin McCourty said. “It always around this time gets a little bit more testy in camp. I think that is what is so nice that we can go out there and practice against other teams and do different things and kind of freshen camp up a little bit.”
Logan Ryan, in his second year in the league after leading the Patriots last year in interceptions with five, doesn’t see this year any more physical — it’s just the competition within training camp.
“I wouldn’t say it’s more physical, it’s just the nature of each practice and the nature of each competition,” said Ryan. “We have great competitors. I think we had some great competitors last year. Right now you can’t ask for better competitors.”
McCourty, a four-year veteran, has a sense of when players are starting to reach the point of relishing the chance to go up against some players not on their own team.
“You see it. It gets a little more testy, guys are chomping at the bit and going at each other a little harder,” he said.
With the addition of Browner in the Patriots secondary there is no question the unit becomes more physical as he comes from Seattle, which has one of the most physical and intimidating secondaries in the NFL. Being more physical can be a good thing for a defense as long as it is channeled the right way.
“We always talk about being physical,” McCourty said. “There are times where we like it and the coaching staff tells us that’s a good job being physical and then there are times where they tell us we need to be more physical in different spots on the field. I think that’s always a work in progress, but I think overall this defense is a physical defense.”
With new head coach Jay Gruden adding some fire to the Redskins organization, it will likely be a spirited few practices next week, something the Patriots to look forward to having.
“Yeah, most definitely,” Browner said. “It gets frustrating going against the same guys every day. I’m ready to get down to Washington and see what I can do against those guys.”
Patriots WR, Danny Amendola, joined the show for a bit to talk about his health, the evolution of the playbook, and the heated battles between the offense and defense.
[0:00:03] ... Amendola as we switch gears and talk patriots here at Foxboro as GilletteStadium as the patriots are coming off the field from training camp practice today. Christian go ahead and yet we guide Danny Amendola ... [0:01:58] ... picked up to be on the same page. With a guy like TomBrady how is that for -- year one year Q do you notice any difference for you in week one anything specific to ... [0:03:22] ... so Browner earlier in this did earlier today with -- felt. You trashtalker you up there near practice you get some these guys face is well. -- everybody like that out here I mean it's ... [0:04:35] ... to come. The next few minutes here Lou baloney incidents view here GilletteStadium overlooking the DanaFarber practice facility some of the fans -- many fans that have come out and out disbursing a bit but at a good ...
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss Wednesday's Patriots practice, which featured Brandon Browner getting into it with Kenbrell Thompkins and a couple others.
[0:04:47] ... but improve -- they improved I know you'd spoke at length with RobNinkovich I had a chance to talk to Chandler Jones. Chandler Jones says that this. Defense has a chance for great things because that's another year of experience. But mostly the same guys along the defense of line and on the edge -- was raving about RobNinkovich. What it RobNinkovich tell you about the potential of this pass rush to be better. Well I think he echoed a lot of the same ... [0:07:24] ... Denver was able to do that. In the AFC championship game to TomBrady other SuperBowl losses the giants were able to do that to TomBrady for able to be physical -- the quarterback knock him off a spot then that's half the battle right there. All right ... [0:07:56] ... all had to actually Richmond Virginia. For week of practice with the WashingtonRedskins he is Christopher price. I'm Mike -- rally outside Gillette Stadium WEEI. Dot com. ...
The new Patriots cornerback said a sluggish couple of days led to a decision to crank things up at practice Wednesday morning.
‘I’m tired of giving up balls,’ Browner said after practice, ‘so I had to turn it up a little bit.’
That meant a series of back-and-forth exchanges with teammates and coaches that sparked some heat for the first time this summer.
This media is not allowed to specifically quote or even paraphrase conversations that take place on the field during camp, but in a passing drill that matched up wide receivers on defensive backs, Browner first hollered at quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Then, after Browner and Kenbrell Thompkins got physical in a one-on-one drill, he went to stick his hand out to Thompkins in what appeared to be an attempt to offer an apology. Thompkins kept walking.
Shortly after that, Browner had another physical one-on-one matchup with Brandon LaFell, and that led to a heated exchange with receivers coach Chad O’Shea — the two took some steps toward each other before players intervened.
Browner said he and O’Shea ‘hugged it out’ after the flap, and that he respects O’Shea because he’s a coach. In addition, it’s clear he’s developed a level of respect for Thompkins, who he’s been lined up against frequently since the pads went on.
‘KT has got routes at the line of scrimmage that are unmatchable,’ he said. ‘Some guys are not as quick as that dude. It’s been real competitive going against that guy. It’s only going to make me better.’
But you shouldn’t look for Browner to alter his physical approach, one that helped set the tone for Seattle’s Legion of Boom secondary. He said Wednesday his physical playing style is about letting ‘the chips fall where they may,’ and acknowledged that could lead to some flags. (Browner has drawn 15 penalties over the last year-plus, including five in eight games last season. By way of comparison, that would have put him tied for second on the Patriots in just a half-season.)
Browner added: ‘That’s my style of play — play aggressive. You don’t want to cost your team any penalties, but you let the officials do their job.
And that occasionally means giving your own teammates the business.
‘Yesterday, we gave up a few balls. Let some of these guys off the line a little easy,’ he said. ‘That was my mentality going into this practice — to win my one-on-one matchups and things like that.
‘You give those guys some balls, they’ll get confident. You want to take away a little bit of that confidence. Get confidence in yourself.’
Then, there’s the fact that the grind of camp might be starting to wear on players. A week of hitting the same guys over and over again gets a little tiresome. The Patriots will get something of a break in that regard, as they are set to fly to Richmond over the weekend to hold joint practices with the Redskins.
‘It gets frustrating going against the same guys every day,’ he said. ‘I’m ready to get down to Washington and see what I can do against those guys.’
Ultimately, Browner sees the increased intensity level as a way to get better on both sides of the ball.
‘It gets us both better — guys on the other side of the ball, it’s what they’re going to do to guys in games. And that was what guys are going to try to do to me in games.
‘Those are guys I’m going to war with, but at the same time, I’m going to be aggressive with those guys. It’s going to make those guys better, and I hope they bring the same fire back at me.’
Wide receiver Danny Amendola checked in with Middays with MFB on Wednesday afternoon following Patriots practice. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
“I’m feeling good,” said Amendola, who battled injuries throughout 2013, his first season in New England. “I’m running around, feeling real strong, feeling healthy and ready to go.”
Injuries aside, Amendola was able to adapt to the Patriots system, something other receivers have struggled to do. However, Amendola made it clear there’s plenty of work ahead.
“This playbook’s constantly evolving,” Amendola said. “We try to change stuff up every day and progress and get better. I’m learning. Everybody’s out here learning every day, trying to get better. We’re seeing some good things out there. We’re competing. We’re vibing on offense, trying to compete with the defense to try to get better every day.”
There have been some intense battles between the receivers and the defensive backs early in training camp. Amendola said there’s a lot of trash-talking but no lingering hard feelings.
“It’s very competitive. It gets heated at times. But at the end of the day we’re brothers and we’re family,” he said. “Nothing carries over from the field to the locker room, which is huge, very professional. Everybody out here is trying to get better every day. It’s going to get heated, it’s going to get competitive. But at the end of the day, we’re family.
Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is under the microscope after the Patriots selected him in the second round of May’s draft.
“He’s doing well. He’s catching on quickly. I know he’s working really hard,” Amendola said. “The coaches are doing a great job of putting him in a position to learn and to get as many reps as he can and make the throws he needs to make. He’s a rookie. He’s getting better.”
FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up their sixth session of training camp and fourth in pads. It was a hot and sweaty morning workout that ran for just over two hours. Here are a few quick notes:
– The following players were not on the field: wide receiver Aaron Dobson (spotted in sweats), defensive back Jemea Thomas, running back Tyler Gaffney, tight end Michael Hoomanwanui, linebacker Deontae Skinner, linebacker Chris White, offensive lineman Bryan Stork, offensive lineman Chris Martin, defensive lineman Dominique Easley (sweats), wide receiver Josh Boyce and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon.
– It was a spirited practice session early on, with the wide receivers and defensive backs spending a lot of time woofing at each other. Cornerback Brandon Browner was in the middle of the action throughout the session. Kenbrell Thompkins and Browner mixed it up in a drill — nothing serious — and Browner extended his hand at the end of the play, Thompkins walked past him without acknowledging it. Later on, Browner was seen having an animated discussion with coaches and other players.
In addition — like Tuesday — there was some good drama in the drills between the rest of the wide receivers and defensive backs. Logan Ryan got away with a hold on Wilson Van Hooser. Danny Amendola made a sweet one-handed grab when going one-on-one against Patrick Chung, and Brandon LaFell made nice grab over the top of Darrelle Revis.
– Later in practice, Browner wrestled a pass away from Thompkins to force a pick.
– It was another day without much contact for tight end Rob Gronkowski. He was in pads with the rest of his teammates and going through drills, but wasn’t part of the 7-on-7s or 11-on-11s. He did take his daily one-on-one session with quarterback Tom Brady, while Revis worked in coverage providing some resistance. Likewise, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was back on the field again in pads, but working in a limited capacity, steering clear of the one-on-ones. Meanwhile, defensive lineman Tommy Kelly appeared to get back to full action, working in pads and taking the majority of drills.
– With Boyce out, Roy Finch took plenty of reps while working as a kick returner. Meanwhile, with Stork out, Dan Connolly got in some snaps while working at center with Marcus Cannon at right guard.
– The Patriots cranked up the music at practice, with U2, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski has heard the rumblings that his surgically repaired right knee could be a target this season.
But he’s heard those rumblings before, even before his right knee was assaulted by a hit from Cleveland’s T.J. Ward last December.
“It’s the NFL,” Gronkowski said. “You’re hitting every single play, every single down. You an be hit anywhere. So, you just have to be aware of who’s coming at you, where they’re coming at you, you have to make your move, dive, get out of the way, you have to put your shoulder down. Whatever it is, you have to be prepared for anything. It’s the NFL. Everyone’s big, everyone’s fast and everyone can hit.
“Everyone knows that if you’re catching the ball, you can lit up at any time. Up the middle, anywhere, a guy coming from anywhere. You just have to make the play by looking at the guys around you.
“I’m not more conscious about it. Just go out there and do what I do and just basically try to make some plays and just get to the point where I’m not thinking about anything, and just out there and keep on rolling.”
Gronkowski practiced again in pads on Tuesday but was held out again from full 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills, instead continuing his work on individual drills, including red zone work with Tom Brady as Bill Belichick looked on closely. Gronkowski said he is really looking forward to the day when he can fully participate again in practice.
“It’s a lot different,” Gronkowski said. “Once you put the pads on, you’ve got to be well conditioned. It’s so much different running around, having all the equipment on. It adds a couple of extra pounds on your body and you’re not used to that. That’s what training camp is for, getting used to everything again and being conditioned and getting your body for the long haul of the season.
“It’s just tough always siting out, whatever drill it is, whatever period it is. You just have to keep working through, working hard so that when it comes down to it, I can be out there with my teammates in those drills.”
Most significant Tuesday was the acknowledgement that he won’t be playing in a game until he is cleared to take part in contact practice.
“Always expect to take a hit before you step out on the field before any game,” Gronkowski said. “You have to be prepared and ready and whenever that is. I’m obviously going to take some hits in practice before I step out on the field [for a game].
“The side work is going good. Getting used to everything I can do, getting in conditioning, which is my number one factor right now. If that’s what I can work on to the max, that’s what I’m going to be working on to the max, running around and getting my body used to everything and just working on individual, listening to my coaches, getting individual routes down and get my individual blocking down to the best of my ability that I can.
“I feel like I have been making a lot of improvement week to week, no setbacks, just every single week doing more, running more, putting more pressure on my legs so it’s coming along well and every single week, it’s about just picking up more.”
“Even doing walkthroughs or anything that with the whole offense as a whole, just getting timing down, getting Brady’s cadence down, getting off the ball with the tackle, getting off the ball with the wide receiver, everything like that, it all comes together, and it’s all big, just to be a part of it, even if you’re not a part of [the offense].
“As of right now, just listen to the trainers and whatever they have for me at practice, that’s what I’m going to do. We don’t have a timetable. Just take it day-by-day right now and just pick it up more and more.”