Observations from Thursday practice

August, 8, 2013
8/08/13
2:00
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- The Patriots and Eagles scaled back the tempo and workload for their joint practice on Thursday, the third and final session before they kick off preseason action on Friday.

Below is a rundown of the practice, as well as some observations from the on-field work. The practice was largely a walk-through for the two teams, as they wore helmets and shells and did not engage in any contact.

10:20 a.m.: Walk-through (both offense and defense)
10:28 a.m.: Stretching
10:36 a.m.: Individual position group work
10:42 a.m.: More walk-through, with the offense working routes on air and the defense doing pattern recognition.

The rest of the practice consisted of the teams doing drills together.

10:48 a.m.: 7-on-7 near the goal line, with each team's offensive and defensive lines working individually.
10:54 a.m.: Special teams situational work. The Patriots kickoff team worked on speciality kicks (squibs, onsides kids, free kicks, etc.) against the Eagles kickoff return team.
11:05 a.m.: 7-on-7 in the red zone, with each team's offensive and defensive lines working individually.
11:10 a.m.: Special teams situational work. The Eagles kickoff team worked on speciality kicks (squibs, onsides kids, free kicks, etc.) against the Patriots kickoff return team.
11:20 a.m.: End of game situational work, including field goals.
11:30 a.m.: 11-on-11 move the field work for the balance of practice (until roughly 12:20 p.m.).

And a few observations from the practice:

1. Thursday was a little longer than your typical day-before-a-game walk-through, but we were reminded of how they can be important. During an end-of-game situation, Tom Brady hooked up with Aaron Dobson on an out-breaking route with just seconds left on the simulated game clock. Rather than getting directly to the sideline, Dobson was a step slow in getting out of bounds. Head coach Bill Belichick implored Dobson to get out of bounds, stressing the importance of acting swiftly so as to not risk letting the clock expire. A good teaching point for the rookie.

2. On the other end of the spectrum, fellow rookie receiver Josh Boyce was pegged to be the player in prime position to recover onside kicks for the hands team. That's an early sign of the team's feelings about his reliable catching skills.

3. Hard to evaluate much of the player's on-field work today, but seemed like a good day catching the football from tight end Daniel Fells. The competition at that position has proved to be among the most interesting on the roster.

4. Belichick and Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spent time on the field together throughout the week, likely exchanging ideas and insights. It was interesting to see Brady and Eagles defensive coordinator Billy Davis spending time chatting on Thursday. There's probably plenty that each can learn from the other about their respective sides of the football. Similarly, Brady spent time with Ernie Adams, the Patriots Football Research Director. Adams' insight into the game is universally respected around the league.

5. The goal line work allowed the Patriots to work some three tight end sets. It wasn't their most productive 7-on-7 work of training camp, but one thing to keep in mind is the limited number of route combinations an offense has at its disposal with three tight ends (bigger bodies, fewer alignments) than when there are multiple receivers on the field.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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