- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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(Every day at training camp, we'll recap the day with a final blog post.)
Top storyline: The first full-pads practice of camp was held, which shined a brighter spotlight on the team's offensive and defensive linemen in contact drills. For the third straight day, the Patriots practiced at 9 a.m., which was earlier than the norm. But Bill Belichick said that the early starts were tied to the Taylor Swift concert that was held at Gillette Stadium over the weekend and that the team will soon be shifting to an afternoon schedule.
Cannon among top o-line group: With starting right guard Dan Connolly not taking part in full-contact drills, it thrust third-year player Marcus Cannon into that spot. Cannon (6-5, 335) has mostly been a tackle as a reserve through his first two seasons, but he could be on the cusp of a breakthrough at guard. He was viewed as a standout in 1-on-1 drills Sunday, at one point holding his ground against powerful defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. "He's a strong kid who can really run well," Belichick told Sirius XM NFL Radio. "Of course, he overcame a lot coming into the league with his personal situation. But he's very mature, a hard-working and focused player. He has a lot of experience at tackle but we're also giving him some experience at guard and I think he'll be able to fight for playing time at one or both of those spots."
Ridley and holding on to the football: Because it was a first full-pads practice, the Patriots devoted a lot of time to the running game as well as the screen game (Shane Vereen was busy in that regard). Projected No. 1 back Stevan Ridley fumbled once in a practice-ending goal-line running drill, with defensive lineman Vince Wilfork scooping it up and racing away to wild applause. It marked the second time in the practice that Ridley lost the football (the first time he never seemed to get the handoff clean). It's only the third day of traning camp, but this figures to be a top area on the clean-up list going forward.
Rookie report: Receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins continue to get a lot of work with quarterback Tom Brady. With the pads on, Dobson showed a willingness as a blocker in the run game. ... Offensive tackle Elvis Fisher was competitive in 1-on-1 rush drills against Chandler Jones. ... Thompkins and defensive end Michael Buchanan were among the players speaking with reporters after practice.
Tebow stays late to sign: Quarterback Tim Tebow was among the players staying late after practice to sign autographs. He was one of the last players to return to the locker room and he ended practice on a high note with a long touchdown pass to Thompkins down the left side.
Behind-the-scenes nugget: The following players were offseason award winners for their performance/improvement etc. in the team's program: Wide receiver Danny Amendola, quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, linebacker Dane Fletcher, linebacker Jerod Mayo, defensive end Rob Ninkovich, special teams captain Matthew Slater, left tackle Nate Solder, cornerback Aqib Talib and defensive lineman Vince Wilfork.
Quote of note: "I think everybody on offense knows how important ball security is. When they don't secure it, then they can run and think about it a little bit when they're going around the field." -- Bill Belichick, to Sirius XM NFL Radio, on sending Stevan Ridley on punishment laps after two footballs ended up on the ground.
Quick hits: Actor Robert Duvall was present at practice, as was Patriots Hall of Fame receiver Troy Brown. ... Rob Gronkowski watched the second part of practice for the second day in a row. ... The Patriots announced that a total of 20,767 attended the two practices on Saturday and Sunday. ... Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan of Sirius XM NFL Radio broadcast live from Gillette Stadium, and it was four hours of great Patriots radio, with guests including Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Adrian Wilson.
Summing it up: With the practice held in full pads, there was an easing-in of sorts for players as they absorbed contact for the first time in training camp. At one point, Bill Belichick didn't like the pace of practice and the way players were moving from drill to drill, and urged them to pick things up. Belichick challenged players both physically and mentally at the end of practice with the goal-line running drill. At that point, everyone was beaten down a bit from the first full-pads practice, but this is the time of year to develop that toughness. Sunday was just the start.