FOXBORO -- Martellus Bennett's day could've started a bit more smoothly.
On the first 11-on-11 snap of Thursday's OTA session -- the first session of the spring that was open to the media -- he was targeted by quarterback Tom Brady, reeled in the pass, then prompty dropped it. He was briefly banished, sent on his way for a lap, before returning to run a few more plays.
Bennett quickly recovered, however, catching one of Jimmy Garoppolo's four completions in 11-on-11 work. He also snatched a pass from Brady in 7-on-7s, using his long arms to pluck the ball from over his head. He vaccuumed another from Garoppolo on a back-shoulder throw with safety Patrick Chung smothering him in coverage. Tangling with Chung, perhaps the best player on the Patriots when it comes to defending tight ends, Bennett fell to the ground and hung on for what was the most impressive catch of the afternoon. Bennett later beat Chung on a well-executed corner route with Brady, his final grab of the day.
It wasn't all perfect for Bennett. He had a ball glance off of his hands and Chung broke up one pass thrown his way, adding to the intrigue of that matchup. And there was of course the drop that led to Bennett's lap. But the fact that Bennett received as much attention as he did from Brady and Garoppolo -- one of whom will be starting Week 1 -- can be taken as a positive.
With Rob Gronkowski not participating in Thursday's OTA, Bennett not only saw plenty of targets in the offense versus defense portions of the workout. He also took part in side sessions with Brady on two separate occasions, working on his timing with his new quarterback.
Though the Patriots would surely like to have all of their projected starters on the field during the spring, that's not the case at the moment. Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis are all key aspects of the passing offense that were missing Thursday.
But all of those absences meant more work for Bennett, which could help him adapt to a new team and a new offensive system more quickly. It will be worth watching if the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder can continue to develop his connection with each of the team's top two quarterbacks as the spring and summer continue and contributors eventually return to the field to reclaim reps.