Observations from Patriots camp: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
2:30
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from the New England Patriots third practice of training camp, which was held in full pads and in front of a crowd of 13,819:

Revis Island on full display: The excellence of cornerback Darrelle Revis was the story of practice. Revis had two interceptions and two pass breakups. Both interceptions came when he was covering Julian Edelman, on throws from quarterback Tom Brady. The first pick came in 1-on-1 drills, and the second in 11-on-11 drills.

Counting up the drops: A lot of dropped passes in this practice. An unofficial tally was eight drops -- from receivers Kenbrell Thompkins (2), Danny Amendola (1), Josh Boyce (1) and Brandon LaFell (1), running backs Brandon Bolden (1) and Jonas Gray (1), fullback James Develin (1). Thompkins, in particular, sputtered a bit after a strong first two days.

Heavy focus on the run game: With this being the first practice in full pads, the running game was naturally a big focus. Specifically, we got a close look at the tight ends executing blocks on the edge, as that was a big teaching point. We were impressed by the effort of five-year veteran D.J. Williams, who at 6-foot-2, 245 pounds isn’t built in the mold of a traditional in-line blocker, but who was a willing scrapper. Undrafted rookie Justin Jones, who has some compelling physical traits (6-8, 275) to harness, showed some of what makes him a raw prospect as he was on the ground a few times.

Who’s winning 1-on-1s? Offensive linemen and defensive linemen went 1-on-1 in pass-rush drills and standouts included defensive end Chandler Jones and right guard Dan Connolly. Jones successfully used a strong inside move to beat left tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon. If Jones rushes like that during the regular season, he'll be primed to build off last year's 11.5-sack campaign. The win over Cannon was particularly decisive. ... Connolly held his ground well against defensive tackle Sealver Siliga twice, anchoring well against the big-bodied 325-pounder. ... Defensive end Michael Buchanan caught the eye with a few strong rushes on rookie right tackle Cameron Fleming, one of which he used his long-arm technique to rock him back and penetrate. ... Rookie center Bryan Stork did a nice job holding his ground against rookie L.T. Tuipulotu and second-year tackle Joe Vellano, and now we look forward to seeing more against some more experienced players. ... Solid work by guard Josh Kline against defensive tackle Chris Jones and defensive end Zach Moore. ... Rookie right guard Jon Halapio had a tough time overall, with Marcus Forston (twice) and Joe Vellano beating him rather handily, and he was coached up by Dave DeGuglielmo after each unsuccessful rep. ... In perhaps a reflection that players are still adjusting to the transition from retired coach Dante Scarnecchia to DeGuglielmo, there appeared to be some confusion on the second rep of the drill with left guard Logan Mankins unaware of the snap count from DeGuglielmo, which led defensive tackle Vince Wilfork to race by him untouched.

Cleaning out the notebook: Receiver Danny Amendola had the offensive play of the day, a diving one-handed catch on the left side. … First-year safety Kanorris Davis spent quite a bit of time working with assistant special teams coach Joe Judge on gunner-type responsibilities. … Kickoff coverage was the special teams area that was worked on throughout the practice. … As part of handling situations in kickoff coverage work, Revis served as the holder at one point in the event it was a windy day. ... Rookie running back James White squirted through the line on one running play (he can be tough to locate behind big blockers at 5-foot-10) and made a few catches when the offense was working on some up-tempo drills. … Rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo took a lap for the second practice in a row after a fumbled snap. … A diving catch by receiver Julian Edelman fired up the crowd. … Cornerback Logan Ryan, playing more in the slot, showed up multiple times with strong coverage. … Safeties Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung and cornerbacks Ryan, Malcolm Butler and Kyle Arrington notched interceptions. Chung’s interception came after rookie tight end Justin Jones couldn’t corral a pass. ... Tight end Rob Gronkowski, in his first full-pads practice, remained limited. He participated in individual drills but not team drills.

Happy birthday to Danny Nickerson: In a nice moment after practice, the entire team sang “happy birthday” to Danny Nickerson, the 6-year-old from Foxborough who has an inoperable brain tumor and whose story has touched the hearts of many.

Who returned: Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who opened camp on the active/physically unable to perform list, took part in some of the walkthrough parts of practice. He was not in full pads, but his participation confirms that he is no longer on the PUP list.

New absences: First-year cornerback Daxton Swanson of Sam Houston State, who has shown up at times over 16 practices (spring camps plus training camp), didn’t participate after taking part in the first two practices.

Who else didn’t practice: Receiver Aaron Dobson (foot/PUP), special teams captain Matthew Slater (unknown/PUP), cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (shoulder/PUP), linebacker Deontae Skinner (non-football-injury list), offensive tackle Chris Martin (non-football-injury list), defensive lineman Dominique Easley (non-football-injury list), receiver Jeremy Gallon (unknown/PUP), defensive back Jemea Thomas (unknown, only practiced Day 1), receiver Greg Orton (was carted off Day 2).

Notable injuries/health-related incidents: Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins slid on the ground at one point late in the practice, and stood up slowly while attempting to walk it off. He was later stretched out by the athletic training staff. He didn't participate in practice after that but it didn’t seem anything too serious.

Who’s talking with the media: This was a day in which rookies were made available, with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo drawing the biggest crowd. Running back Shane Vereen and cornerback Brandon Browner were others drawing significant attention. Defensive end Will Smith and receivers Brandon LaFell and Josh Boyce also stopped by the interview area.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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