(Photo Credit: BostonGlobe.com)
By: Jake Mackey
The first full-padded practice for the 2016 New England Patriots has come and gone, and it was one that heavily emphasized on the run game, something you haven’t heard too much in Foxborough over the past ten years.
A crowd of 21,000 flowed into the practice field bleachers and hill and up onto the ramps of Gillette Stadium all the way up to the 300 section.
Practice did not start ramping up until about an hour in, but there was one spectacular one-handed grab in warm ups by Martellus Bennett that was Odell Beckham Jr. esq. It looked as if he were grabbing a baseball out of mid-air.
The first real contact of training camp came in the interior seven on seven drills. Five lineman a running back and a quarterback would line up across from four defensive lineman and three linebackers, and the two units would get after it. The drill was pretty balanced on both sides with no apparent victor. Donald Brown received significant reps and showed his shifty ability. The highlight of the drill was Jamie Collins lighting up LeGarrette Blount on a counter play.
After the interior seven on seven, the skill positional players took over. Tom Brady took the majority of the reps with the first team. In ten plays Brady went to the air seven times completing six of them.
Jimmy Garoppolo went to the air six times completing four of them. Justin Coleman had an impressive pass break up, knocking the ball out of the hands of Chris Hogan. Donald Brown was taking the handoffs from Garoppolo.
Jacoby Brissett went to the air seven times completing four, with one interception by rookie Kamu Grugier-Hill that was tipped over the middle by seventh-round rookie receiver Devin Lucien, who is seeing a lot of time on the field with all three quarterbacks.
In 11 on 11 team drills, the run game was heavy. LeGarrette Blount, Tyler Gaffney, James White, and Donald Brown all received touches and had trouble getting past the Patriots front seven in goal line situations. One play in particular stood out. James White was handed the ball inside the five and was nearly knocked over by his own offensive lineman due to the fact that Terrance Knighton was barreling over him.
There was some passing however. Tom Brady shined more than any of the other quarterback. Two plays were highlights over the rest. One was a corner of the end zone pass to Rob Gronkowski that drew massive applause from the crowd. The other a laser of a pass down the middle under the goal post to Chris Hogan, who had Malcolm Butler draped all over him.
In addition, newly acquired guard Jonathan Cooper was carted off the field with a lower right foot injury that he suffered during team drills, and Bryan Stork was escorted off the field. In regards to Stork it is easy to speculate that it may have been the result of a fight during one-on-ones on the far field. He walked off under his own power
Practice will continue on Sunday morning at 9:15.