“When you’re singing Tom Brady happy birthday, you know its football season”. Speaking to the media after practice, Julian Edelman summed up the feel of the Patriots’ 8th training camp practice, and the yearly celebration the team throws in honor of TB12. There were cards, a number 12 cake, a Tom Brady balloon, and more at training camp today for Tom Brady’s 41st birthday (no goats this year though). In all seriousness, August 3rd has served as a reminder in recent years exactly how remarkable it is what Tom Brady is doing. Most quarterbacks, even the best of the best, are often well removed from their playing days at this point. Brady is coming off of an MVP season, and poised to begin another Super Bowl run. And since it is Touchdown Tommy’s birthday, lets start with him…
1Bill’s Gift To Brady
What do you get the man who has everything? Apparently, a day of doing nothing. After stretching with the team and throwing in individual drills, Tom Brady became a spectator, with Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling handling all of the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 reps. Patriots fans are a reasonable and lighthearted group, so I’m sure this non-story won’t be blown out of proportion (cue the ‘Worse Benching: Brady Or Butler’ columns)
2Snap To It
With Brady enjoying his birthday on the sidelines, Brian Hoyer and Danny Etling were given extra chances to step up, and while Hoyer made a few nice throws, it was overall underwhelming. Both quarterbacks fumbled a snap at some point during practice. Etling’s came on the goal line, and drew a yell of anguish from the LSU product. It’s not the first time Etling has let a snap get through his fingers so far in camp, something he can’t do if he wants a shot to make the team.
Today was a practice session Herb Brooks would have appreciated; it felt like players were constantly running laps. The offense ran after the QB fumbles, but there were individual laps as well. LaAdrian Waddle got called for a false start towards the end of practice and was sent running. Brandon King also had to make his way around the fields as well. Julian Edelman mentioned after practice the team needs to clean up some sloppier mistakes such as penalties, so the mistakes didn’t go unnoticed.
414-Year Streak In Jeopardy?
For 14 straight seasons, the Patriots have had an undrafted rookie make the week-1 roster. Its become a routine game each summer to try and predict which ‘Day 4’ draft pick will make the squad. While they all haven’t been Malcolm Butler, guys like Adam Butler and Jacob Hollister, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis have been key players on successful teams. This year however, nobody in the UDFA class has stood out or separated themselves to the point that they look like a Week 1 roster kind of player. If anybody is going to keep the streak going, keep an eye on cornerback JC Jackson, who has lined up sparingly with the second team and also on the special teams unit.
5Turn It Up
With real game action just a week away, Bill Belichick wants his team ready for game-like conditions. Today, crowd noise was a focus, as they had music coming full blast over the speakers for much of practice. This could have contributed to the rise in pre-snap penalties mentioned above, which in itself shows the value of the practice. After beginning with Jay-Z’s PSA (perhaps because of Tom Brady’s birthday, perhaps because Jay-Z and Beyonce are playing Gillette this weekend) it was a steady dose of classic rock, heavily leaning on the Rolling Stones. Not only are the Patriots one of the best teams in the NFL, they also have the best taste in music.
After returning to practice yesterday, Kenny Britt left early today. Just another angle to the messy Patriots wide receiver situation. Sony Michel missed practice for the second straight day after leaving early on Wednesday. Michel had been getting serious playing time with the first unit, but with a tight running back competition any snaps missed are extra costly. On the kick return unit, he has been replaced by Patrick Chung.