FOXBORO — The Patriots went through a high-speed training camp session Tuesday afternoon on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. The workout, which was in full pads (the third of the year in pads), ran for two-plus hours, and was probably the most eventful of the summer.
The following players were not spotted on the field during the workout: quarterback Matt Flynn (NFI, in sweats), special teamer Matt Slater (PUP, in shorts), wide receiver Brandon LaFell (PUP), running back Tyler Gaffney, linebacker Dane Fletcher (PUP, sweats), offensive lineman Marcus Cannon, offensive lineman Ryan Wendell (PUP, in sweats), offensive lineman Caylinn Hauptmann (PUP), defensive lineman Joe Vellano, tight end A.J. Derby, defensive lineman Chris Jones (PUP), defensive lineman Alan Branch (PUP, sweats).
In addition, linebacker Xzavier Dickson shed the red non-contact jersey that he had been wearing and linebacker Dont’a Hightower was in a red non-contact jersey again. And a handful of new faces were in attendance, but there was no way to match up names to numbers: linebackers L.J. Fort and Cameron Gordon, defensive lineman A.J. Pataiali’l and running back Erik Kettani.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman disappeared into the field house early in the workout. Without Edelman and LaFell, the offense was without two of its top three options in the passing game, and the receiving corps got even thinner just after the halfway point of practice when Brian Tyms went down after a contact injury and had to be carted off. In their place, there were plenty of passes for the likes of Aaron Dobson and Danny Amendola. Amendola certainly took advantage of those reps, collecting a few touchdowns on some nice throw-and-catch routes from Tom Brady.
Brady was picked by Malcolm Butler in 11-on-11s midway through practice — it was Brady’s first turnover of the summer. (Nate Ebner got an interception on a ball for Jimmy Garoppolo earlier in practice.) The ball was intended for Josh Boyce, and Butler undercut the route. Butler also had a really impressive pass break up on a goal-line drill where he knocked the ball away from Dobson. This has been mentioned by many of my colleagues, but it certainly bears repeating: Butler has been very good over the first week of camp. He is not Darrelle Revis, version 2.0, but he’s been extremely competitive to this point in the summer, and when he’s been beaten, it’s only been because of a really impressive hookup between the quarterback and pass-catcher.
In the goal-line passing drills, Josh Boyce had a couple of really nice connections with Tom Brady in those same drills. Provided Boyce stays healthy and remains an option at kick return, he could turn things in his favor when it comes to landing a roster spot. Brandon Gibson had a nice catch he wrestled away from Jimmy Jean. Later in the same drill, Gibson had another nice reception. Later in the same drill when Garoppolo was throwing to him, Tyms was able to get open, but flat-out dropped the ball. Tyms rebounded with a nice catch in his follow-up opportunity. (In 7-on-7s later in the session, Tyms had a great catch from Brady.)
With Sebastian Vollmer remaining on a snap count (he did get some reps, but they were few and far between) and Cannon not on the field, Cameron Fleming got plenty of time with what appeared to be the starting offensive line at right tackle. And while there was plenty of shuffling up front with a lot of different combinations, it appeared that the two rookies – Tre’ Jackson and Shaq Mason — got plenty of time at the guard spots.
At kick returner, Amendola, Boyce and Travaris Cadet got a lot of reps,
Some of the highlights in the one-on-ones between the offensive line and defensive line included Eric Martin using his speed to sneak past Nate Solder, center Bryan Stork stoning Dominque Easley and wins for Jabaal Sheard against Jackson and Josh Kline. (The Sheard wins in that context are interesting because he wasn’t necessarily coming off the edge, but instead, going head to head against guards.) Jackson lost one against Sheard, but later took out his frustrations on Rufus Johnson, wrestling him to the ground. And rookie Trey Flowers ended up running a lap for jumping early.
Toward the end of practice, there was some goal-line running work, and the defense turned away the offense on a handful of occasions. That sparked some celebration and some trash-talking from the defense, led in large part by veteran safety Devin McCourty.
There were several different musical selections throughout the session, including Bon Jovi, Metallica and Green Day.