FOXBORO — The Patriots just wrapped up their second mandatory minicamp session on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, a session that ran for roughly two hours in shorts, jerseys and helmets. It was overcast and slightly cool — again, great weather for June football.
When it comes to attendance, tight end Rob Gronkowski was missing for the second consecutive day. In addition to Gronkowski, the following players were not spotted on the practice field: wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, cornerback Logan Ryan, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive back Duron Harmon, running back Dion Lewis, running back Brandon Bolden, defensive back Nate Ebner, offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson, offensive lineman Josh Kline, offensive lineman Shaq Mason, offensive lineman Nate Solder, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, wide receiver Danny Amendola and tight end Clay Harbor.
The reps at quarterback were again pretty much split along the usual lines for the second straight day, as Tom Brady appeared to get the bulk of the work, while Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett picking up the rest of the snaps.
Martellus Bennett went down roughly halfway through 7-on-7 work, and stayed down for a bit as staff members appeared to work on his left knee. He was up and standing after a few moments. Following a special teams drill where he and a handful of other starters stood off to the side watching, he put his helmet back on and was back in action. On the next pass play in 7-on-7s, he caught a pass from Brady in full stride. Later on, tight end Michael Williams was spotted off to the side talking with the medical staff, and took his helmet and jersey off before being carted off with abut 20 left in the session.
At the end of practice in 11-on-11s, Bryan Stork appeared to be in the middle of some sort of dustup that included linebacker Dont’a Hightower and defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton. Devin McCourty could be seen shepherding Hamilton away from the pile, while Matthew Slater was doing the same thing with Hightower. It looked like Hamilton and Stork were sent off to run.
Aaron Dobson had a nice catch from Brady in an early passing drill, and had another good day. The fact that several of the primary options in the passing game weren’t present gave Dobson a good opportunity to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack with a few very nice catches, including two in traffic in 11-on-11 work — one from Brady and one from Garoppolo. Keshawn Martin showed up with an excellent catch in 11-on-11s as well on a ball from Brissett, while Chris Hogan and Chris Harper added nice one-handed grabs in 11-on-11s near the end of practice.
And with so many running backs not on the field, backups like Joey Iosefa and Donald Brown also had a chance to get some hands on, individual attention from coaches. (Brown had a nice catch along the sidelines in 11-on-11 work.)
Without Gronkowski and Edelman on the field, Brady’s side session on Wednesday (during punt return work) consisted of Bennett, Dobson and Nate Washington. Keshawn Martin, Cyrus Jones, D.J. Foster and V’Angelo Bentley got reps as a punt returner. (Bentley muffed two of the returns.)
For the second straight day, Rob Ninkovich was shuffled around from position to position, another potential indication that the Patriots are testing the waters on utilizing some of the more versatile aspects of their front seven.
It’s insanely early, but Jones looks really comfortable running alongside veteran defensive backs like McCourty, Patrick Chung and Malcolm Butler.
Rookie Kamu Grugier-Hill was again pulled out of regular drills to work on special teams drills — specifically, punting and punt coverage — with the likes of other core special teamers like Brandon King. It’s a good sign for the Eastern Illinois product, as that sort of attention is a good sign for his development.
In a passing drill roughly halfway through the session, linebacker Ramon Humber broke up a Garoppolo pass for Bryce Williams. Garoppolo and Harper had nice connection later in the same drill, but a Garoppolo throw for Dobson later in the same drill was short and off target.
In 7-on-7 work, some members of the back end of the depth chart stood out. Cre’Veon LeBlanc had an impressive pass breakup on a deep ball from Brissett to rookie Devin Lucien. Arguably the defensive play of the day. Tight end Steven Scheu had a nice catch from Brissett later in the same drill.
Linebacker Kevin Snyder took a lap roughly halfway through practice for some sort of infraction.
Living Colour (“Cult of Personality”), Metallica (“Enter Sandman’) and Bruce Springsteen (“Murder Incorporated”) were among the artists on the playlist.