FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The final day that the Patriots are prohibited from practicing in pads is in the books, with the team taking the field in the heat on Saturday morning.
Below are some observations and notes from the two-plus-hour session:
1. Impressive show from second-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who broke up several passes and intercepted another. He fared well in competitive catch situations down the field. Ball skills has long been an area that Dennard has shown himself to be proficient in. He also did some work in the slot, something we haven't seen much (if any) of previously.
2. Same goes for rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson, who showed confidence in going over the middle and making several catches outside of his frame. That's a positive sign for the 22-year-old, who should at least compete for a prominent role as a perimeter receiver.
3. Top draft choice Jamie Collins, the linebacker from Southern Mississippi, is a player we'll closely monitor, particularly given his versatility. It's hard to pinpoint how the team plans to use him defensively (he has positional flexibility), but he should find a home on special teams too. He's worked extensively in various special-teams drills during the early goings of camp. His movement skills, speed and length make him a natural candidate to play on the four core units.
4. Undrafted rookie free agent receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was a full participant in today's practice, just one day after being limited. He looked sharp as a perimeter receiver working down the field, and also got in some isolated work with Tom Brady on tear screens during a special teams period. It will be interesting to see how he moves after the catch when the pads come on.
5. First fumble of training camp came from Danny Amendola, who coughed up the ball in the process of returning a punt. Veteran Leon Washington, Amnedola and Lavelle Hawkins were the primary punt returners during today's work.
6. Practice production note: The Patriots affixed small cameras to the helmets of each of their quarterbacks for practice, something they'll use to study the film later in the day. In addition, a ladder was placed in the end zone for a member of the video staff to stand atop and follow each of the quarterbacks in their movements during team drills.
7. The process of evaluating the big guys will kick into another gear on Sunday when the pads come on, but one defensive end who caught our attention was rookie Michael Buchanan. His quickness was apparent from afar.
8. Good day catching the football for Shane Vereen. The Patriots worked hard on swing/flare passes with the running backs, and Vereen's natural catching skills were on display.
9. Saw some work for Markus Zusevics at left tackle today. He's also been previously spotted at right tackle and right guard. That kind of versatility can help a lineman stick around.
10. Rookie punter Ryan Allen certainly held his own as the team worked in the punting game. The left-footed two-time Ray Guy Award winner showed a strong combination of power and direction.
11. The Patriots had racquets out at practice for the second straight day. The racquets are used to simulate the reach of defensive linemen (e.g. J.J. Watt) and four passes were batted down by the racquets -- two from Brady and two from Tim Tebow.