Tom Brady makes a point during practice Wednesday. (AP)
FOXBORO — The Patriots held their second practice of their mandatory minicamp session on Wednesday on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. The workout ran for just over 90 minutes, and was held in shells, sweats and helmets. There was a slight uptick in intensity in the session, which included the usual 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, as well as some positional drills. Here are a few notes on what happened:
1. The following players were not spotted on the field for the duration of the workout: wide receiver Julian Edelman, offensive lineman Nick McDonald and tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. The only major change in that group was Hernandez, who was limited through previous practices this spring as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder issue. (For what it’s worth, Edelman was spotted on the field inside Gillette on Tuesday working with a member of the support staff and catching passes, free of the walking boot he’d been in over recent weeks.)
2. Two guys who were on the field again were linebacker Brandon Spikes and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Spikes was limited, but he showed up toward the end of practice, while Dennard spent most of his time with a rehab group while hanging out on the sidelines. Defensive backs Devin McCourty and Nate Ebner were also part of a rehab group that also included wide receivers Josh Boyce and Mark Harrison and offensive linemen Dan Connolly and Sebastian Vollmer.
3. As was the case on Tuesday, the offense had a crisp session, with Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett getting the bulk of the reps at quarterback. (Tim Tebow‘s only time under center outside of the drills was during opportunity time at the end of practice.) There were some glitches in the workout — at one point, Brady had to remind a receiver where to line up, and Mallett overshot a few receivers on some deep pass attempts. But all in all, it was a good morning for the offense. Overall, when it came to quarterback play in the 11-on-11 drills, Brady was 11-for-19 (with Jerod Mayo coming away with a pick off a deflected ball), Mallett was 10-for-14 and Tebow was 6-for-9. (One of Tebow’s incompletes came when he fired the ball at the feet of a defensive back.) The best catch of the day came from veteran special teamer Matthew Slater, who managed to sneak between a pair of defenders to make a grab on a deep ball.
4. Bill Belichick talked a little about chemistry during his Wednesday morning press conference, and it’s clear that there is a burgeoning relationship between Brady and new receiver Danny Amendola. The two were again able to make a handful of nice connections over the middle (there were several underneath routes) and one really impressive one on a deep ball down the sidelines. And when they weren’t on the field together, they were seen chatting on the sidelines. In that same vein, veteran receiver Michael Jenkins continues to be a constant presence for the quarterback. This spring, there have been several occasions where Brady has been on the sidelines and Jenkins has spent time picking his brain, or just standing and listening to conversations the quarterback has been having with another pass catcher.
5. With Hernandez and Gronkowski both sidelined, tight ends Zach Sudfeld and Daniel Fells made the most of their chances. Sudfeld — an undrafted rookie tight end — had another impressive outing, and has certainly made his case to be in the mix when training camp opens next month. Fells also saw plenty of action, and made some nice plays while in traffic.
6. The impressive offensive display didn’t necessarily mean that there weren’t any nice moments for the defense, with most of them coming from the secondary. Marquice Cole and Aqib Talib combined for a nice pass breakup on a deep ball from Mallett for Jenkins, and for the second straight day, veteran safety Adrian Wilson came up with a nice pass breakup on a Brady ball for Jenkins. In addition, Kyle Arrington broke up a Brady pass for Amendola. And on the final play of the afternoon, Jerod Mayo came away with a nice pick off a tipped ball from Brady. (The play drew cheers from his defensive counterparts.)
7. While there’s been a lot of punt return work over the course of the spring sessions that have been open to the media, there wasn’t too much to report from the special teams portion of Wednesday’s workout, as punt block appeared to be the primary focus for the day. David Ruffer got in some long field goal work at the end of the session.
8. Because there’s precious little contact, it’s difficult getting a handle on how the offensive and defensive lines have done when it comes to the 11-on-11s. (It’s also difficult because the big guys spend most of their positional drills in the far corner of the field.) But one thing we have noticed is that new defensive lineman Tommy Kelly hasn’t been afraid to speak his mind. The former Raider has been seen talking and working with younger players on a fairly regular basis throughout the spring. It will be interesting to see his impact on the young defensive linemen, as well as the impact of Wilson on the young defensive backs.
9. With the first blush of Tebowmania having worn off, the media contingent was far less than the 80-plus individuals who were on the scene on Tuesday. Tebow did not speak with the media, but Amendola, Wilfork, Wilson, Jenkins, Mallett and Rob Ninkovich were among the players who talked to reporters. And while Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was among the group of visitors at camp on Tuesday, there were no visiting coaches in the house on Wednesday.