Bed check: Wrapping up Day 23
August, 17, 2012
By Mike Reiss | ESPNBoston.com
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Wrapping up the 23rd and final day of training camp and the key storylines:
Chandler Jones delivers for his teammates. In a team-building moment, Bill Belichick had first-round draft choice Chandler Jones stand at the goal-line and field a 50-yard punt from Zoltan Mesko. Jones caught the ball over his head, had it come down near his facemask, before he tumbled to the ground and maintained possession. For his efforts, the entire team earned the night off from meetings, making Jones the most popular Patriot of all. "I owe him dinner. I'm gonna take him to dinner myself actually," cornerback Kyle Arrington said.
Dynamic returner Demps is signed. The Patriots signed Florida running back/returner Jeff Demps, the U.S. Olympic sprinter who projects as a top option as a kickoff returner, which is an area that Bill Belichick said Thursday that he'd like to see improvement. Demps brings dynamic speed, and adds depth at running back.
Brady, Lloyd and Gronkowski work on the side. In a different-than-the-norm twist, quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Brandon Lloyd and tight end Rob Gronkowski worked on one practice field while the rest of the squad focused on 11-on-11 drills on the other field. With Friday's practice focusing on Monday's preseason game against the Eagles, that could be an indication that all three will play sparingly, if at all.
Practice pace slows, full pads come off. After a long week of practice (Sunday-Thursday) that included heavy full pads work, players were in light shoulder pads on Friday as the pace was slowed. Players had talked about how it was a long week, but that it included important work. "It’s good to struggle together, to be in the daily grind. As much as we hate it, we love it," punter Zoltan Mesko said.
Ridley & Wilson remain out. Running back Stevan Ridley and safety Tavon Wilson, who were both knocked out of Thursday's practice, remained sidelined on Friday. Receiver Jabar Gaffney, who pulled up in Wednesday's practice, remained out as well. Meanwhile, reserve defensive back Malcolm Williams and fullback/running back Eric Kettani returned after being absent all week.
Ebner continues to show up. Rookie safety Nate Ebner intercepted two passes as he takes advantage of more defensive reps. The sixth-round draft choice out of Ohio State was initially viewed as a special-teamer, and that's likely where he'll see the majority of his time in 2012, but he's starting to show up more on defense in recent days.
Quote of the day. " It’s like trying to get a girl and buying them a drink. You schmooze them up and tell them how nice they look." -- Ty Law, former Patriots cornerback on how he used to attempt to curry favor with officials.
Star performer. Defensive end Chandler Jones. Catching a high-arcing punt from 50 yards away -- impressive.
Tough day at the office. Running back Brandon Bolden. Fumbles in 11-on-11 work and it's recovered by the defense.
Storyline to monitor. How fast can Demps get up to speed?
(Editor's note: This is the final "bed check" of training camp, as Friday marked the final open session of camp.)