Tom Brady were on the field in Foxboro Thursday. (Elsa/Getty Images)
FOXBORO — The Patriots just put the wraps on an OTA session on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium. The workout ran for just under two hours, and was held in numbered jerseys, helmets and shorts. (Shout out to a handful of players, including running back Brandon Bolden and wide receiver Aaron Dobson who were in long sleeves, a bold move on such a hot day.)
The following players were not present for the workout: wide receiver Julian Edelman, cornerback Malcolm Butler, cornerback Logan Ryan, running back LeGarrette Blount, defensive back Duron Harmon, running back Dion Lewis, defensive back Nate Ebner, long snapper Joe Cardona, offensive lineman Tre’ Jackson, offensive lineman Josh Kline, offensive lineman Shaq Mason, defensive lineman Frank Kearse, offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, offensive lineman Nate Solder, wide receiver Danny Amendola, tight end Rob Gronkowski, defensive lineman Alan Branch.
One of the biggest things that stood out was the fact that most all of New England’s veteran offensive playmakers: Gronkowski, Edelman, Amendola, Lewis and Blount were all not present. In addition, a sizable chunk of what will likely be the starting offensive line was not on the field. At the running back spot, that allowed several of the guys who are presumably at the back end of the depth chart get some work. D.J. Foster did nicely when it came to keeping up with the veterans in a pass catching drill for the backs. Along the offensive line, the lack of starters also allowed some of the youngsters and new faces to get plenty of reps alongside Brady. As Dante Scarnecchia indicated a few weeks ago, rookie offensive lineman Joe Thuney was inside.
When it came to reps at the quarterback spot, it didn’t appear that the Patriots were looking to get more work for backup Jimmy Garoppolo at the expense of Brady. Wide receiver Chris Hogan with a nice catch in the corner of the end zone via Brady on a passing drill. Rookie Devin Lucien also hauled in a fade pass from Brady later in the same drill. (Hogan had a couple of other really nice grabs, including a one-hander from Brady later in the day.) Keshawn Martin had a few nice grabs in traffic.
Meanwhile, Jacoby Brissett had a couple of overthrows, but had a nice connection with Malcolm Mitchell later in practice down the sideline, and looked like he was throwing the ball with more authority as the session continued. Cyrus Jones had the pick of the day when he stepped in front of a Brissett pass for Lucien near the end of practice and brought it out of the end zone.
In these sorts of workouts in the past — particularly the spring sessions — Brady has gravitated toward a handful of guys who had most favored nation status with the quarterback. In previous years, that group has included (but not been limited to) Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Edelman and Gronkowski. With most of his buddies not present on Thursday, it appeared he spent most of his time with Garoppolo and new tight end Martellus Bennett. Bennett also spent time chatting with Garoppolo.
Later in the workout, off to the side, Brady was paired off with Bennett, new tight end/fullback Clay Harbor and fullback James Develin. (Toward the end of practice, Brady went off to work with another grouping that included Bennett, Mitchell, Nate Washington and Aaron Dobson.) While that was going on. Brissett was throwing to a group of skill position players at the other end of the field that included Hogan, Martin, Dobson and Washington. Bennett looked good for much of the day — he had a really nice catch in a red-zone drill later in the day where he wrestled the ball away from Pat Chung. But it wasn’t all good news for the newcomer, who dropped a pass in 11-on-11 drills and was forced to run a lap. Geneo Grissom and Darryl Roberts also had to run laps as well.
Martin, Jones, Chris Harper, V’Angelo Bentley were all spotted returning punts at the end of practice. It’s not known if it was physical ailment or just a way to stay warm, but during the special teams portion, Jamie Collins spent time riding a stationary bike. (He didn’t spend a lot of time on the bike, for what it’s worth.)
The Patriots dipped into the music just after the midway point of the workout with a little Guns N’ Roses (“Welcome to the Jungle”), James Brown (“Living in America”) Bon Jovi (“Living on a Prayer”) and U2 (“Beautiful Day”) among others.