Patriots Camp Report: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New England Patriots training camp:

  • Some fun reactions on Twitter when it was passed along that cornerback Darrelle Revis had a pick-six of Tom Brady in practice, which was one of the plays of the day. Brady said Revis and cornerback Brandon Browner will make a quarterback pay when there is a mistake, and also touched on what it's been like going against a physical defense.

  • Rookie running back James White (fourth round, Wisconsin) continues to get notable repetitions, including on the goal line. Brady was complimentary of White, saying, "He's got a real maturity for someone who is just getting out of college. He's made a lot of really great plays out here."
  • Special-teams captain Matthew Slater practiced for the first time after opening camp on the active/physically unable to perform list. A Pro Bowler in each of the past three seasons, he's being eased back into the mix and didn't participate in full-team drills (focus on punt coverage Thursday). This marks the third time in four practices that the Patriots have had a player come off PUP, with defensive lineman Tommy Kelly, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and Slater.
  • Receiver Danny Amendola was one of the players drawing a large media crowd after practice. He talked about being healthy and how it's nice to be in his second year in the Patriots' system. "I feel comforable. It's different," he said.
  • Brady was asked about his personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, and touched on how vital he's been in his career. Guerrero is often seen at Gillette Stadium and has worked with other Patriots players as well. "More than anyone could ever realize," Brady answered, when asked how much Guerrero has helped him. "He's been someone I've been very lucky to work with for a long time. He's my best friend, and he's phenomenal at what he does, probably the best in the world. So I'm pretty lucky."
  • The Patriots were in full pads for the fifth straight practice, as coach Bill Belichick previously mentioned that this is a grind-it-out time for the team.
  • Friday's schedule: Ty Law Patriots Hall of Fame induction at 4:30 p.m. ET (open to public at no charge); In-stadium practice for season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents at 7 p.m.

Weekly Patriots chat recap

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Every Thursday on, there is a New England Patriots chat. Today's chat kicked off at 3 p.m. ET, can be recapped here, and included some of the following topics:

1. Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins under the microscope.

2. Quarterback Tom Brady and how he looks in practice.

3. First impressions of rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

4. Rookie running back James White and what he might add to the offense.

5. More on cornerback Brandon Browner and his practice approach.

6. Sharing thoughts on Patriots Hall of Fame inductee Ty Law.

Tom Brady's insight on physical defense

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots' physical defense has been one of the top storylines of training camp. Specifically, cornerback Brandon Browner's play has stood out in that area, to the point that it has disrupted the rhythm of the offense and affected the ability to execute in some drills.

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
Stew Milne/USA TODAY SportsTom Brady isn't frustrated by physical tactics used against receivers in training camp, because they'll see it in games.
Quarterback Tom Brady shared some insight on the topic today.

Here is the Q&A:

Do you love to see the defense’s physicality, even though it might go beyond what’s acceptable?

Brady: Yeah, they are a physical defense. I think all of those guys are veterans. They know how to get away with certain plays. Like holding, for example – it happens every play, so if you look close enough you’re going to find holding. There is an edge that you can always push it to. If you look at the offensive line, there’s holding on every play. That’s just the way football is. You’ve just got to do it in a way where the refs don’t see it and don’t call it. But that same thing goes for the defensive backfield. If there is a way to gain leverage on a particular route, then you’re going to use it. The veterans know how to do it better; they know right where the limit is.

Is there a fine balance between them disrupting receivers’ routes and accepting it because it’s what the receivers are going to have to deal with in games?

Brady: Absolutely, I think that’s what defenses do. We’ll go into games and say, 'Look, these guys hold on every play.' They grab you, they clutch you, they hold you, but we still have to figure out a way to get open. It’s not flag football. Their hands are going to be on you, and the refs, they’re only going to call it when you pass the limit of where they think the limit is. That’s just part of football, and I think the best defenses I’ve ever played against – they get their hands on you, and they don’t let you get into your route, and they disrupt the timing. Our corners, Kyle Arrington, and linebackers in coverage do a great job of that, too. But we’ve got to learn to be just as physical. We’ve got to learn to push off in the right way and get our leverage because that’s how it’s going to be when it matters.

Observations from Patriots camp: Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from the New England Patriots' seventh practice of training camp, which was held in full pads on another beautiful morning:

Defense at goal-line stands out: In a practice that seemed to be a bit dialed back compared to the previous day, both sides turned it on during goal-line drills. When the top unit was on the field, safety Devin McCourty burst through the line to stop running back Stevan Ridley for a loss, and he shouted in excitement afterward as his teammates joined him in a chant that reflected a unit that is having a lot of fun and playing together. The first-unit defense also had a stop on an incomplete pass that looked like an offensive breakdown. Meanwhile, the second-unit offense went 2-for-2, with running back James White squirting up the middle for a score, while quarterback Ryan Mallett found tight end Justin Jones in the back of the end zone off play-action.

Keeping tabs on center competition: With rookie Bryan Stork remaining out of practice, the Patriots had incumbent Ryan Wendell back in the pivot in this practice, with Braxston Cave working behind him. Veteran Dan Connolly, who had taken those reps Wednesday, had more of a limited workload. Marcus Cannon remained at right guard for the second day in a row.

Who’s winning one-on-ones? Offensive and defensive linemen didn't do one-on-one drills in this practice, as coaches focused more on two-on-two blocking situations. Second-year defensive tackle Chris Jones caught the eye with two strong rushes, the second of which he won in hand combat with guard Josh Kline and showed burst to get to the quarterback.

Cleaning out the notebook: Seemed like Bill Belichick was taking a closer look at tight end Rob Gronkowski and his progress. Once again, Gronkowski, cornerback Darrelle Revis and quarterback Tom Brady worked together while the majority of the club was working on a special teams drill. ... Darrelle Revis' pick-six of Tom Brady drew a reaction from the crowd. ... One offensive play of the day came when No. 2 quarterback Ryan Mallett connected with running back Shane Vereen on a long pass down the left sideline with first-year cornerback Justin Green in coverage. ... Vereen was a tough matchup for linebacker Dont'a Hightower in one-on-one passing drills, with Vereen making a leaping catch over Hightower, who didn’t turn his head. … Running back Brandon Bolden beat linebacker James Anderson in one-on-one drills, making the catch while falling after a sharply run route. He later struggled to keep his feet after shaking linebacker Chris White. … Hard to miss rookie running back James White getting some reps on the goal line. … Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard took some one-on-one reps against receivers, which wasn’t something we spotted in his return to practice Wednesday. … Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo worked on holding field goals before practice, and later took some snaps running the read-option. … Strong rush by second-year defensive end Michael Buchanan on rookie right tackle Cameron Fleming to record a would-be sack of Garoppolo. … Undrafted cornerback Malcolm Butler recorded an interception of Garoppolo. … Two low snaps from undrafted Tyler Ott in end-of-practice field-goal work. … Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was present, as was Boston Red Sox third-base coach Brian Butterfield. … First-year offensive lineman Jordan Devey was the lone lap-taker (for a false start).

Punt coverage the focus on special teams: A specific segment of special teams is worked on in each practice and today was punt coverage. Linebacker Jamie Collins got a bit more work in that area than he had earlier in camp.

Who returned: Special-teams captain Matthew Slater, linebacker Chris White, receiver Josh Boyce

New absences: Linebacker Cameron Gordon

Who else didn’t practice: Receiver Aaron Dobson (foot/PUP), center Bryan Stork (lower leg, left midway through fifth practice), linebacker Deontae Skinner (non-football-injury list), offensive tackle Chris Martin (non-football-injury list), defensive lineman Dominique Easley (non-football-injury list), receiver Jeremy Gallon (unknown/PUP), defensive back Jemea Thomas (unknown, only practiced Day 1), tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (unknown, participated in first four practices).

Notable injuries/health-related incidents: None.

Who’s talking with the media: Quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Danny Amendola, special-teams captain Matthew Slater, linebacker Jerod Mayo, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, defensive ends Chandler Jones and Will Smith, cornerback Logan Ryan, long-snapper Tyler Ott, safeties Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon, tight end Justin Jones.

Revis pick-6 of Brady highlights practice

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Toward the end of Thursday’s practice, the Patriots’ offense was working on being backed up in its territory when cornerback Darrelle Revis delivered one of the notable plays of the day.

With the ball on the 2-yard line, quarterback Tom Brady dropped back into his end zone, was forced to hold the ball a bit longer than desired, and then attempted to fire a short pass over the middle to receiver Kenbrell Thompkins.

The delivery was a bit behind Thompkins and Revis cut underneath him to haul it in and return it for the would-be touchdown, which produced a cheer from the crowd. Brady was visibly frustrated with the result, as it marked the third time in camp that Revis had picked him off. On Wednesday, one of the final plays in team drills saw cornerback Brandon Browner picking off Brady.

“They’re both great players. When you make a mistake, they make you pay,” Brady said after practice, when asked what it’s been like going against Revis and Browner.

“I think that’s the mark of a really good corner. As the quarterback, you’re always trying to find the weak link in the defense. Neither of those guys are weak links. Sometimes we have to go after them and try to see if we can make a play. But like I said, if you miss a little bit, they end up making the play. It’s great work for us and you understand what you’re up against.”

Brady has made his fair share of plays as well, such as a beautiful completion up the right sideline to receiver Danny Amendola with cornerback Kyle Arrington in coverage.

“When we review the film at night, there is one side that is getting praised and the other side that’s not. You want to be the one that gets praised all the time, but in situations like this, it always kind of balances out,” Brady said. “The defense makes a lot of good plays out there. We make our fair share. Hopefully when we play a different opponent, both of us are clicking.”

Special-teams captain Slater off PUP

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater has joined his teammates for Thursday morning's practice in full pads, an indication that he is coming off the active/physically-unable-to-perform list. This marks Slater's first practice of the year; he also was held out of all 13 spring organized team activities and minicamp practices due to an undisclosed ailment.

 A Pro Bowler in each of the past three years, Slater is widely regarded as one of the NFL's best special-teamers. The seven-year veteran has also been elected a team captain in each of the past three years.

The return of the 6-foot, 210-pound Slater, who is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, was the most notable personnel-related development at Patriots training camp.

A few other notes:
  • Second-year receiver Josh Boyce, who missed Wednesday's practice, has returned Thursday. Boyce has been working as one of the club's kickoff returners. At receiver, he appears to clearly be behind Kenbrell Thompkins, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.
  • Linebacker Chris White, a core special-teamer, has returned to practice after missing Wednesday's session.
  • Undrafted linebacker Cameron Gordon of Michigan is not present at practice for the first time in camp.
  • Rookie center Bryan Stork, the fourth-round pick from Florida State who was expected to compete for a starting job, remains out after appearing to sustain a lower-leg injury on Tuesday. Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Braxston Cave figure to rotate at the center spot, which was one of the top competitions to monitor entering camp.

Patriots linebackers having a blast

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With three top draft choices atop the depth chart in Jerod Mayo, Dont'a Hightower and Jamie Collins , the New England Patriots have the potential to field one of their best linebacker groups in Bill Belichick’s 15-year tenure as coach.

Strong play at the linebacker level has been a consistent theme through six training camp practices, with Mayo (first round, 10th overall, 2008) leading things in the middle as players have credited his presence for keeping everyone on the same page.

“It’s been great. He knows the defense better than anybody here,” said Hightower, one of the team’s two first-round picks in 2012. “It’s very important to have communication with all the checks we have. If one guy hesitates or makes the wrong check, that’s one hole in the defense and that can make a big play. I feel like we’ve been doing a pretty good job of communication, but there’s always room for improvement.”

As is often the case in NFL training camps at this time, the Patriots' defense has seemed to have the upper hand in drills. Specific to the linebackers, they have been especially competitive in coverage drills, with Collins (second round, 52nd overall, 2013) a standout.

The group is enjoying working together, and it shows. Hightower sees the potential for great things.

“Most definitely,” he said. “I said it before, it’s all about having fun. When you have fun, you can go out there and fly around. Something is going to happen, you never know, you might be in that cutback lane to make that ball pop out. You might be around for a tipped pass to intercept it. Whenever you’re out there having fun, and you have enthusiasm, it’s contagious.”

Some have wondered if the Patriots’ linebackers might miss Brandon Spikes , who signed with the Bills in free agency, in that regard. Spikes brought plenty of energy and was arguably the team’s most physical linebacker against the run.

But the page has been turned and the new-look linebacker trio of Mayo, Hightower and Collins is out to make its own mark.

Their success through the early part of training camp has been hard to miss.

Wake-up call: Patriots camp Day 8

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Every day of the New England Patriots training camp, we'll have a wake-up call that previews the day ahead.

9:45 a.m. ET -- Practice
approx. 12 p.m. ET -- Player interviews

This is the seventh overall practice of training camp. The Patriots have had two practices in light shoulder pads and helmets and four in full pads. There was one day off.

Add in 13 practices from the spring and the club will have had 20 practices by the end of today. There was a heavy emphasis on situations Wednesday, with the team working on getting different personnel packages into the game while facing clock-based pressure.

Here are a few storylines we'll be following today:

1. Following up on the Brandon Browner vs. Kenbrell Thompkins matchup following some Wednesday fireworks.

2. Keeping tabs on defensive tackle Tommy Kelly and how his knee responds, as he looked solid in an expanded full-pads workload on Wednesday.

3. If core special teamer Chris White remains out, the chance to get a closer look at others in the backup linebacker competition, such as Steve Beauharnais and Darius Fleming.

4. It might be nice to hear Darrelle Revis' thoughts on Ty Law, who's set to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame on Friday.

Weekly Patriots chat at 3 p.m.

July, 31, 2014
Jul 31
Every Thursday on, there is a Patriots chat. Today's chat is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET, and questions can be submitted in advance.

Catch up then.

Patriots Camp Report: Day 7

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New England Patriots training camp:
  • Cornerback Brandon Browner is practicing with a physical edge, and at one point, his hands-on approach riled up receivers coach Chad O'Shea. Browner's physicality was the main topic players were asked about after practice. "That's part of intimidation," linebacker Dont'a Hightower said. "He had that in Seattle and before that. That's his style of play. When you're a receiver and watching film, and you see him rag-dolling guys around and choking guys out at the line of scrimmage, that's intimidation. That's definitely a trait he's had and he's definitely using it."
  • Third-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard met with reporters for the first time since coming off the physically unable to perform list (offseason shoulder surgery) and earlier serving a 35-day sentence in an adult detention center in Nebraska. Dennard deflected questions about his less-than-ideal offseason. "Moving forward," he said. "It’s all about football right now. I’m trying to provide for my family." Dennard, who is one of the top candidates to start at right cornerback when Brandon Browner is serving his season-opening four-game suspension, said he's "feeling better and better every day."
  • More progress for tight end Rob Gronkowski, who continues to push himself as he works his way back from a torn ACL. For the second straight day, Gronkowski was covered by cornerback Darrelle Revis as Tom Brady worked on red zone passing with him. Bill Belichick closely watched the three work while the rest of the team focused on special teams on the opposite field.
  • Some important developments are unfolding at center, as rookie Bryan Stork (fourth round, 105th overall) walked off the field with a member of the athletic training staff midway through Tuesday's practice and was absent for all of Wednesday's practice. It appears he's suffered some type of lower leg injury. Stork is expected to compete for a starting role, but in his absence, veteran Dan Connolly took the majority of reps Wednesday.
  • Nice to see former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins, now working in the sports media, receive warm welcomes from Belichick and Brady, among others. Wiggins, who made big plays for the Patriots in the 2001 Super Bowl season, spent about 10 minutes speaking with Brady after practice, and the two shared an embrace at the end.

LB Jamie Collins gets job done in coverage

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- New England Patriots' second-year linebacker Jamie Collins put on a show with his coverage skills in Wednesday's practice in full pads. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Collins broke up two passes and shut down most every running back and tight end he matched up with during practice.

Despite his success in coverage, Collins remains focused on his overall development rather than his performance in one practice.

"It was OK, you know, there is always room for improvement," Collins said. "Just coming out here, hopefully I'll get better tomorrow."

Collins has already come a long way from his days at Southern Mississippi where he was a raw, jack-of-all-trades type of a player. Now he is settling in as an outside linebacker who specializes in coverage by using his long frame and agility.

"I hope it's another tool for us to win," Collins said. "All 11 guys need to help us and that's what we need to come out victorious. We all need to bring stuff to the table and hopefully I'm doing it."

Among Collins' notable plays Wednesday were a signature pass break-up on a Tom Brady pass to tight end D.J. Williams during 7-on-7 drills. He also prevented a touchdown by sticking with running back Shane Vereen from the line of scrimmage and forcing Vereen out of the end zone on a Brady pass in the right corner.

In addition to Collins' coverage skills, the Patriots linebackers have a variety of skill sets with Jerod Mayo quarterbacking the defense and Dont'a Hightower stopping the run and even rushing off the edge at times. Collins recognizes that this year's linebackers have potential to be something special, describing the trio and depth of the group as a "brotherhood."

Collins was asked what areas he'd like to focus on as training camp progresses.

"Just to play a little faster, man," he answered. "Just get the playbook down all the way down so I can just go out here and go all out."

Observations from Patriots camp: Day 7

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from the New England Patriots' sixth practice of training camp, held in full pads on another near-perfect morning:

Connolly steps in at center: With rookie Bryan Stork not participating in practice (he walked off with athletic trainers midway through Tuesday's session), it shined a brighter spotlight on the center position in practice. Veteran Dan Connolly, who had missed Tuesday's practice due to a personal matter, returned and took top repetitions at the position. That meant he was back in the spot where he started 14 games in 2011 (including playoffs) before being switched to right guard the following season. "My job my entire career has been kind of the utility guy -- go where the team needs me and I can just do whatever I can to make a job and help this team get better," Connolly said after practice.

Browner's physical play stands out: It was tough to take one's eyes off the 1-on-1 matchup between cornerback Brandon Browner and receiver Kenbrell Thompkins, mainly because Browner turned his physical play up a notch. It would have been interesting to see how many penalty flags would've been thrown had officials been present, as Browner toes the line. He said as much after practice, noting, "Let the chips fall where they may, you know that's my style of play, play aggressive. You don't want to cost your team any penalties but you let the officials do their job."

Who's winning 1-on-1s? There was one long pass-rush drill, with a total of 22 repetitions. After that, there was a 2-on-2 drill in which offensive linemen worked on passing off rushers. ... Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly had a decisive win over right guard Marcus Cannon, as Cannon failed to get his hands on him at the snap. Kelly later beat left guard Logan Mankins with some initial quickness as he appears to have come back nicely from a torn ACL that limited him to four games in 2013. ... Left tackle Nate Solder had two strong reps, holding his ground against Chandler Jones and Will Smith, but Jamie Collins powered into him with success on another rep. ... Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer stonewalled defensive end Rob Ninkovich but later had his hands full with Dont'a Hightower. ... Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga had two strong rushes to give center Dan Connolly and Cannon trouble. ... Rookie right guard Jon Halapio held his own against defensive tackle Joe Vellano, locking him out with his right arm, but defensive tackle Chris Jones beat him on his outside shoulder later in the drill. Halapio had a second rep against Jones and moved his feet to mirror him with success. ... Vellano had a decisive win over left guard Jordan Devey, beating him with quickness. ... Vince Wilfork continues to generate power in his rushes (against Logan Mankins and Connolly). ... Rookie right tackle Cameron Fleming was competitive against Ninkovich.

Kickoff coverage focus on special teams: A specific segment of special teams is worked on in each practice and today was kickoff coverage. With core special teamer Chris White not present, it opened the door for third-year linebacker Darius Fleming to take reps. It also caught the eye that second-year linebacker Steve Beauharnais seemed to factor a bit more into the special teams mix than we've seen in the past.

Cleaning out the notebook: Totaled up 10 dropped passes in the practice. ... For the second straight day, tight end Rob Gronkowski was covered by cornerback Darrelle Revis in a drill in which Tom Brady worked on end-zone routes with Gronkowski. Bill Belichick stayed to watch the three, while there was special teams work taking place on the opposite field. ... Interceptions for Brandon Browner and cornerback Justin Green. ... Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard spent most of the practice working off to the side and on conditioning. He looked a bit rusty, as one would expect. ... Linebacker Taylor McCuller worked as a fullback on the goal-line. ... A down marker and first-down stick were used on the sideline. ... Running back James White, who can be tough to locate behind big blockers, had a notable touchdown on the goal-line off the left side. ... Big hit delivered by linebacker Ja'Gared Davis on running back Stevan Ridley along the right sideline that planted Ridley on his backside. ... Vince Wilfork had a notable pressure in two-minute work. ... Receiver Brandon LaFell had a good set of reps in 1-on-1 drills, consistently beating his man. ... Rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler showed up with a few pass breakups. ... At the end of practice, Belichick had players go to the hill behind the fields for conditioning-based running. ... CBS News correspondent Armen Keteyian was a guest ... Music blared during practice, with Bruce Springsteen's "Glory Days" and "Mary's Place" among the highlights.

Who returned: Center Dan Connolly.

New absences: LB Chris White (unknown, participated in first five practices),WR Josh Boyce (leg/knee, participated in first five practices), C Bryan Stork (lower leg, left in middle of fifth practice).

Who else didn't practice: Receiver Aaron Dobson (foot/PUP), special teams captain Matthew Slater (unknown/PUP), linebacker Deontae Skinner (non-football-injury list), offensive tackle Chris Martin (non-football-injury list), defensive lineman Dominique Easley (non-football-injury list), receiver Jeremy Gallon (unknown/PUP), defensive back Jemea Thomas (unknown, only practiced Day 1), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (unknown, participated in first four practices).

Notable injuries/health-related incidents: None.

Who's talking with the media: Linebackers Dont'a Hightower, Jerod Mayo, Jamie Collins and Darius Fleming; safeties Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon; cornerbacks Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan and Alfonzo Dennard; receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Danny Amendola; center/guard Dan Connolly, offensive tackles Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer; fullback James Develin, defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones; and tight end D.J. Williams.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – When safety Rodney Harrison first came to the Patriots in 2003, he buzzed around the practice field and delivered some big hits on teammates. Such intensity was part of what made him great, but it also came close to putting some of his teammates at risk in practice.

Some of the same things we remember seeing back then have returned to Patriots practice, in the form of cornerback Brandon Browner.

The 6-foot-4, 221-pound Browner plays with a physical edge and he was mauling receiver Kenbrell Thompkins at the line of scrimmage throughout Wednesday’s practice, sometimes beyond the legal 5-yard limit. Then during the middle of practice in one-on-one drills, Browner’s physical play reached a point that receivers coach Chad O’Shea fired his hat into the ground and the two exchanged some words, with Browner needing to be restrained.

After practice, Browner didn’t want to get into the fiery exchange with O’Shea.

“Me and him hugged it out,” he said. “As a coach, I have to respect him, but that’s nothing I want to talk about or put on TV like that because I respect him.”

Browner was more willing to speak about what unfolded throughout the practice and how he made a concerted effort to play with an edge at the line of scrimmage.

“It was a physical one, man. We had to compete out there. I’m tired of giving up balls, so I just turned it up a little bit,” he said.

That made the Browner-Thompkins matchup one of the most notable things to come out of practice. They went at it multiple times, with some extra pushing and shoving at times.

“It’s part of the game. There will be fights. There will be scuffles. But at the end of the day, we’re all close friends and teammates,” Thompkins said. “We’re just trying to make each other better.”

Browner was complimentary of Thompkins.

“KT’s got routes at the line of scrimmage that are unmatchable,” he said. “Some guys aren’t as quick as that dude, so it’s been competitive going against that guy. And it’s only going to make me better."

Browner, practicing like Harrison once did, seemed to get the better of the matchup on Wednesday, while picking up what would have been a few penalties along the way.

“Yesterday we gave up a few balls and let some of those guys off the line a little easy,” Browner said. “So that was my mentality going into this practice, to win my one-on-one matchups.

“You give those guys too many balls, they’re going to get confident. You want to take away a little of that confidence and give confidence to yourself.”

Rookie center Bryan Stork sidelined

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots are holding their sixth practice of training camp Wednesday morning, and rookie center Bryan Stork is not present.

Stork, the fourth-round pick out of Florida State, is competing for a starting job with incumbent Ryan Wendell and veteran Dan Connolly. He appeared to suffer a lower-leg injury midway through Tuesday’s practice and walked off with members of the athletic training staff and did not return.

[+] EnlargeBryan Stork
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesRookie Bryan Stork is competing for the starting center job with Ryan Wendell and Dan Connolly.
A potential extended absence from Stork (6-foot-4, 310) in training camp could significantly alter the competition at center, which is one the team’s most important position battles in camp.

Speaking in general terms in his Wednesday morning news conference, Bill Belichick touched on how missed practice time in training camp can be extremely tough for young players to recover from.

“With the limited number of practices we have now, relative to what we had in the 80s when I was with the Giants -- we were in the 50s number of practices before the first game -- now we’re at half that, maybe a little less,” Belichick said. “So if a player with no experience isn’t able to participate and misses two weeks, 5, 6, 8, 10 practices whatever it is, that’s like missing half of training camp. It’s a lot of ground to make up.”

With Stork not on the field, Wendell (6-2, 300), Connolly (6-4, 305) and first-year player Braxston Cave (6-3, 305) will likely take the bulk of the center repetitions.

A few other notes and sound bites from Belichick and the Patriots:

  • Belichick called this the “grinding through camp” period for the team. He is attempting to create stress for the players, which is part of establishing a strong foundation for any team, and that is reflected in how Wednesday’s practice is once again being held in full pads.
  • Asked about former Brown University fullback James Develin by a Providence-based television station, Belichick compared his role to a relief pitcher in baseball. You never quite know going into a game what situation he might be used, but he fills a valuable role. Belichick also mentioned Develin’s impressive 1-yard touchdown run against the Texans last season in which he broke four tackles in a remarkable effort.
  • Receiver Josh Boyce, who reporters spotted walking off the field Tuesday with a limp, is not present at practice this morning. Linebacker Chris White is also a new absence.

Catching up with Ty Law

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss sits down with the newest player elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame, Ty Law.