FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots held a full-pads workout on Monday afternoon, their second of at least five straight days of practice. Here are some observations:
Wilfork powers through. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork was up to his old tricks during one-on-one drills versus the offensive line, powering through anything in his way. When squared up against an offensive lineman in the interior of the line, Wilfork is nearly unblockable. His power is immense.
Starters and reserves intertwine. With 90 players on the roster, the Patriots have areas with very good depth. On Monday, the team worked starters and reserves together, including quarterback Tom Brady taking reps behind a line made up mostly of the team's younger linemen. Coach Bill Belichick previously stated that this is a big week for a number of players, and for those who fall into the category of "on the roster bubble," receiving reps with and against frontline players is a unique opportunity to showcase ability. On that note, it was interesting to see Jermaine Cunningham, Ron Brace and Brandon Deaderick taking reps as the starting defensive line during one portion of team drills.
Interior offensive line rotation. Though guard Logan Mankins was removed for the PUP list on Sunday, he remains unable to participate in full-pads practice, per the three-day acclimation rule all players must comply with when they take the field for the first time during training camp. His absence from contact drills has the door still open for other players to receive reps along the interior of the offensive line. The Patriots worked a number of players in at the guard and center positions during team drills, often substituting a new body in on each play. Scrappy center Ryan Wendell continues to impress and may be a candidate to start at center.
Scott seems to be finding mojo again. Defensive end Trevor Scott looks like he's bounced back after a stretch in which his play appeared to dip. Scott's quickness off the edge made him a difficult player to stop in one-on-ones, and he seems to have the strength to be a good edge-setter in the run game.
Bequette solid in one-on-ones too. Rookie defensive end Jake Bequette looked sharp in one-on-ones today, flashing a good combination of quickness off the edge and closing burst. On one noteworthy rep, he swiftly maneuvered past Nate Solder by beating him with his hands technique. He's come on of late.
Arrington plays to the whistle. Credit defensive back Kyle Arrington for adhering to the old adage of playing to the whistle. On consecutive days, Arrington has been able to dislodge the football from receivers on would-be catches at the very last moment before they gained possession. Turning the football over and making plays on the ball have become fortes of his game.
Bolden's strength and toughness on display in kicking game. The Patriots have four running backs who look to be strong candidates to remain on the roster this preseason, and undrafted rookie Brandon Bolden is one of them. His running has been impressive, with a blend of speed, power and instincts, as well as his special teams contributions. He's lined up at key positions on core units, including on the front line of the kickoff return team. The fact that he has been used as a blocking/hold-up player is a testament to his strength and toughness.
Silvestro sprawls up the seam. Alex Silvestro had the highlight of his young tight end career on Monday, sprawling for a seam-stretching catch. Regardless of what Silvestro's future holds on the roster in New England, he's come a long way in a short period of time on offense.
Ebner works in the box, makes a pick. Rookie safety Nate Ebner continues to receive increased reps on defense with the reserve unit, and we saw him work from the box on Monday afternoon. Given his strength and toughness, he could become an effective in-the-box tackler and run supporter. As a sign of his developing complimentary game, he also hauled in an interception during practice.
Unbalanced line shows up. Yesterday, we saw the Patriots insert two running backs onto the field at the same time for the first time all preseason. We saw that again today, as well as a new wrinkle on offense: the unbalanced line. Tackle Dustin Waldron kicked out to a tight end alignment.
Bucket drill returns. The bucket drill, a popular drill amongst fans (and media members), made it's 2012 season debut today. What does it involve, you ask? Simply placing a trash barrel somewhere on the field and having the quarterbacks throw at it from a certain point. Today they were heaving from 30-40 yards out, but no quarterback was able to drop a pass in.
Ebert lets one slip. Rookie receiver Jeremy Ebert let a punt slip through his hands on Monday. He's looked fairly reliable so far, but also dropped a pass during the preseason opener.
Attendance report. Offensive lineman Logan Mankins, who was removed from the Active/PUP list on Sunday, was in light shoulder pads, per CBA rules. ... Wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who practiced in shells on Sunday, was in a T-shirt and shorts on Monday, working with the team's group of rehabbing players. ... Players spotted rehabbing were fullbacks Spencer Larsen (unknown) and Eric Kettani (possible calf); tight ends Daniel Fells (leg), Rob Gronkowski (unknown) and Aaron Hernandez (unknown); offensive linemen Sebastian Vollmer (back), Kyle Hix (arm/shoulder) and Markus Zusevics (pectoral); defensive lineman Myron Pryor (shoulder); cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (hamstring); and safety James Ihedigbo (unknown) ... Players not spotted: tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe (hamstring) and Jake Ballard (ACL); offensive linemen Brian Waters (did not report) and Matt Kopa (ankle); defensive linemen Jonathan Fanene (unknown) and Gerard Warren (unknown); linebackers Dane Fletcher (ACL) and Tracy White (unknown); and cornerback Malcolm Williams (unknown).