FOXBORO — When defensive back Brandon Browner got in Kenbrell Thompkins face Wednesday, the Patriots receiver didn’t take it personally.
After all, the receiver has been making big play after big play on him and figured the time had come in the training camp one-on-one competition for Browner to rise up. He did, with an interception, his first of training camp and a strip of a ball on another play against Thompkins.
Thompkins said the early sparring session in Wednesday’s padded practice was not something that will carry over to another practice.
“I don’t think so,” Thompkins said. “We still have a lot of practice against each other. We’re just out there being competitive. He’s competing against the wide receiver position. We’re competing and those things happen. At the end of the day, we go in the locker room and we all see each other’s faces and we have another six hours together. Hopefully, we’ll crack a couple of jokes later.”
Earlier in practice, during red zone drills, Browner got so frustrated he just pushed Thompkins in the back as he was beaten on a corner route in the end zone. Minutes later, in another passing drill, Browner had seen enough and got physical and loud.
The sparring session caused receivers coach Chad O’Shea to intervene, naturally defending his receiver. Browner didn’t take kindly to that and got in the face of O’Shea.
“The receiver position, it’s our job to make sure we get open and make sure we catch the ball,” Thompkins said. “Our coach always preach those two things.”
They may have wanted to rip each other apart for a brief moment Wednesday but both praised the other after practice, including Thompkins, who said he’ll benefit from going up against a 6-foot-6 defensive back at the line of scrimmage.
“He’s a tremendous athlete. All of those guys are tremendous athletes,” Thompkins said. “Brandon has great length. You just pretty much have to work against every DB we have out there. We have to make sure we work on our releases and are getting open.”
Thompkins said the important lesson of Wednesday is to learn from the emotion on the field and use the passion to make better plays.
“Hopefully we can just get better from it,” Thompkins said. “Just leave it on the field.”
Thompkins made a point to tip his cap to the entire Patriots secondary as a group, not just newcomers Browner and Darrelle Revis.
“I don’t think it’s [only] two,” Thompkins said. “We have a great group, a great bunch at the corner position right now. I think they’re all competitive and they’re all working hard and we’re all trying to make each other better at the end of the day.”
With a new attitude, tight end D.J. Williams is primed for what could be a breakout season (AP).
FOXBORO — For tight end D.J. Williams he’s been in the NFL for three years with the Patriots being his third team. After being cut three times last season, including once by the Patriots and having only nine career catches and no touchdowns, the 25-year-old has a new outlook on how to approach the game.
“It came with sitting on the couch for a couple of weeks not having a job waiting on a phone call,” Williams said after practice on Wednesday. “I don’t want to be that guy who is sitting at home saying he didn’t get his chance because of a hamstring or anything like that. I want to say I gave it my best, everything I had and it didn’t work out, but I couldn’t say that. I don’t want to let that opportunity slip through my hands again.”
After being drafted by the Packers out of the University of Arkansas in the fifth-round in 2011, he was cut before the start of the 2013 season and picked up by the Jaguars. He didn’t record a catch in seven games with Jacksonville and was let go.
With injuries at tight end the Patriots claimed Williams in late November, but after just one game he was let go once again as fellow tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was deemed healthy again. Then, a week after being cut he was re-signed when Rob Gronkowski went down with a season-ending ACL tear.
This brings Williams to his fourth training camp, one he is looking to make the most of.
“I have the attitude now after being cut three times in one year — you stop pointing fingers saying this guy got paid, it didn’t work out in this system — the only person that has anything to do with it I found out is myself,” Williams said. “Looking back at it, I got comfortable. That is a terrible thing to do. Once I realized it was all my fault I stopped beating myself each and everyday. I approach everyday as a new day that you can get better and I don’t want to beat myself anymore.”
After working out for much of the offseason with fullback James Develin, a player he became close with in his short time with the organization last year, Williams is ready to compete for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
“It was intense. I got together with my boy James Devlin. We were in the weight room getting after it and when we were away from each other we were sending video messages to each other seeing who could lift more weight,” he said. “He has me right now.”
With the team not having a true backup for Gronkowski, Williams is looking to be that guy as he is versatile in the fact he can both block and catch passes well. Currently the Patriots have five tight ends on the roster, with two rookies — Justin Jones and Asa Watson. In all likelihood the team will carry two or three tight ends on the final 53-man roster, so with Hoomanawanui missing the last two days of practice, Williams could have an upper hand at making the team.
“I’ve started to learn you can’t control the hand that is dealt, you can just control how well you play,” Williams said. “I am here now. I really love the system and I am going to do my best to make sure I can be as productive as I can not for myself, but for the team.”
FOXBORO — Third-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard says he is now fully committed to his football career. It’s a career that is on life support after multiple run-ins with the law.
All of it began the weekend he was drafted in the seventh round by the Patriots in 2012. In his final game at Nebraska in 2011, Dennard was ejected for fighting with South Carolina receiver and current Chicago Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery. In the same month, he had a not-so-great Senior Bowl in front of scouts and coaches, causing his stock to plummet.
Then things got really messy.
Dennard was arrested in April 2012 for assaulting a police officer in Lincoln, Neb. and found guilty in February 2013, and the conviction carried a 30-day jail sentence to begin March 1, 2014 and two years of probation. Dennard was arrested again in July 2013 for suspicion of driving under the influence, which was ruled as a violation of his probation, and he was given an extra 30 days in jail and another year of probation.
Dennard was released after 38 days for good behavior after spending 35 days in the Lancaster County Adult Detention Facility in Nebraska this year.
On Wednesday, his second day back on the practice field after missing spring OTAs and minicamp, Dennard spoke to the media for the first time since he was released from jail in April.
“It’s a very good feeling,” Dennard said. “Just move forward, just moving forward. It’s all about football now. Just trying to provide for my family.”
Dennard began training camp on the physically unable to perform list before getting cleared to practice on Tuesday. He only practiced for an hour Wednesday before working on his conditioning. He admitted that he is still a ways from being a full-go in practice.
“It’s been very tough because I just want to go out there and compete with my teammates and learn from the older guys,” Dennard said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time. I’m feeling better and better every day.”
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price assess the intensity of Brandon Browner and how it spilled over into shouting at teammates Kenbrell Thompkins, rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea at Patriots training camp practice Wednesday.
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. ...