FOXBORO — The Patriots wrapped up their seventh session of training camp and fifth in pads Wednesday. It was a beautiful summer morning, and the workout ran for just over two hours in front of a big crowd on the practice fields behind Gillette. Here are a few quick notes:
– Matthew Slater was back on the field in pads, and Josh Boyce was also among those returning to practice. Meanwhile, linebacker Cameron Gordon was not on the field for the first time this summer. In addition, center Bryan Stork, tight end Michael Hoomanwanui, running back Tyler Gaffney and offensive lineman Chris Martin were among those not present.
– The highlight of the morning likely came late in the 11-on-11 drills. With the Patriots offense working at their own 1-yard line, quarterback Tom Brady dropped back and zipped a pass over the middle. Cornerback Darrelle Revis stepped in front of the pass and took it back roughly six yards for the score. The play drew a big cheer from the crowd, as well as the rest of the defense. Later in the same series of drills, the defense bottled up running back Stevan Ridley in a goal-line drill — the defense was cleared fired up.
– Marcus Cannon was getting a lot of work at right guard with what appeared to be a reasonable facsimile of the starting offensive line. Last year’s starting right guard Dan Connolly got a lot of work at center, likely giving Ryan Wendell a bit of a rest because Stork wasn’t on the field.
– Rob Gronkowski was in pads again, but didn’t appear to be involved in any of the 11-on-11 drills. He did get his daily dose of work on the side with Brady, and once again, Revis worked to provide some level of defense on Gronkowski.
– In that same vein, Alfonzo Dennard was again back on the field in pads, but didn’t appear to get any work in the 11-on-11 drills.
– Julian Edelman and Roy Finch worked as punt returners.
– No fireworks from Brandon Browner, who spent a relatively quiet morning going through drills with the rest of the defensive backs.
– In 11-on-11s, at the end of a Brady pass for James White, the rookie busted into the secondary and got popped by Revis, drawing a cheer from the crowd. In the same series of drills, Ryan Mallett found Shane Vereen out of the backfield, and the running back took off down the sideline for the end zone on a crisply executed play.
– The 6-foot-8, 275-pound Justin Jones is a massive and intriguing presence at tight end. He’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he presents himself as a massive target, and when a quarterback is able to get the ball in his general vicinity, he makes the catch. (He dropped a laser from Mallett in 7-on-7 drills Thursday morning.) He made a great catch in the back of the end zone in 11-on-11 drills on a ball from Mallett. While he’s probably behind D.J. Williams on the depth chart at this point in the summer, Jones is certainly one to watch as the preseason and camp continues.
– Jimmy Garoppolo continues to be a mixed bag, to be kind. He badly overthrew a receiver in an early 7-on-7 drill, and missed a throw to Brian Tyms. Later in the same drill, he overthrew Tyms on an attempted deep ball. (For what it’s worth, Tyms has grown into Garoppolo’s favorite target — the combo could be this summer’s version of Tim Tebow and Quentin Sims.) And at the end of practice, Malcolm Butler picked off Garoppolo in 11-on-11s, and almost directly after that, was almost crushed by Michael Buchanan coming off the edge. There’s no sign that any sort of deal is imminent, but if Garoppolo continues to struggle this summer, I’m not sure the Patriots would be inclined to trade Mallett.
– Edelman continues to have an excellent camp. The receiver has consistently been where he needs to be when it comes to routes, and as far as I can tell, there haven’t been any cases where Edelman and the quarterback weren’t on the same page. (Not to mention the fact that he’s caught everything that’s been thrown in his direction, particularly when going up against Revis.) He had a great catch on a deep ball against Arrington late in camp in 11-on-11s. At this point, Edelman appears to be poised to have a terrific year.
– Backup offensive lineman Jordan Devey took a lap late in practice for an unknown transgression.
– Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was on the sidelines watching practice, and spent time chatting with Brady during the workout.