Under a heavy fog, the Patriots took the field for the second to last open practice of 2018 training camp. For the few fans who made it out to Foxboro in the damp and muggy conditions, they got a treat, as the team spent most of the day on 11-on-11 drills with a heavy workload for Tom Brady. These kind of reps are as valuable as any when starting to project the 53-man roster; here’s who and what stood out at Monday’s practice.
1Drops Drops Drops
Even with the damp conditions, it was an inexcusably tough day for the receivers. Early portions of practice were reminiscent of the training montage from the movie Dodgeball. Nobody had a tougher go of it than Eric Decker, who dropped his first three targets, two of which came in individual throwing sessions with Tom Brady, and no defense on the field. Paul Turner, Will Tye, and even the sure-handed James White had the ball slip through their hands as well.
2To Be The Best You Have To Beat The Best
Stephon Gilmore has held his own so far this summer, his first at the Patriots clear-cut number one cornerback. Monday though, he found himself on the wrong side of some spectacular plays by patriots receivers. Early in practice, he got twisted up on a go-stop-go move by Phillip Dorsett in 1-on-1s. A few plays later, Tom Brady and Chris Hogan connected on a perfect back shoulder comeback route. It’s good to see Gilmore getting challenged like this in camp, because these are the kind of plays he’ll need to make in the fall to live up to his contract.
Was any position outlook affected more by the Patriots first preseason game than running back? The change was evident today as Ralph Webb saw a heavily increased first-team workload, with Jeremy Hill getting just one carry and one catch in 11-on-11s. Brandon Bolden saw some time with the ones as well. Bolden and Webb’s reps could be linked…if the Patriots want to keep Webb on the roster, his spot may have to come from a bigger back like Hill or Mike Gillislee. If the Patriots feel confident that Brandon Bolden, who would probably make the team anyway as a special teamer, can fill that role, it would hypothetically open up a spot for Webb.
4It’s All In The Hands
During an 11-on-11 portion of practice, defensive tackle Malcom Brown spent time with a coach on a side field, working on what looked like hand placement and hand-fighting. The Patriots have put an extra emphasis on pass rush technique this year, most notably by hiring martial arts expert Joe Kim to work with the defensive line. Keep an eye on Brown rushing the passer Thursday night against Philly to see if his new hand tricks will work out.
5Jackson Rises Up
We saw a few key moments in the competition for the final cornerback spot in Monday’s practice. Ryan Lewis, who had one of the most up and down preseason games in recent memory, spent time on the lower field after the opening session of practice. Meanwhile, JC Jackson made what may have been the play of the day. While in with the first-team unit, Jackson was the front defender on a deep ball from Tom Brady to Phillip Dorsett. From a backpedal, Jackson timed his jump perfectly, high-pointing the ball over Dorsett and the other defender for the pick of TB12. It was a positive sign from Jackson, who was beat on a similar play Thursday night.
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