Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 18


Postcards from Patriots Camp: Day 18

FOXBORO -- Logan Mankins is back.

Amazing to consider what kind of guy can miss so much time and jump back in with the first team offensive line. Mankins did that on Sunday.

Not that the pace was impressive...

The first practice after New England's 7-6 win over New Orleans on Thursday night was breezy. Not unusual after the first preseason tilt. To paraphrase Bill Belichick, the team will go hard for the next eight days -- a brutal stretch between now and the next game (Philadelphia on August 20) -- because it won't have much time to get things right after that.

The calm before the storm, as they say.
WEATHER A gorgeous night: By 5 PM the temp just began to dip under 80 degrees and fall with the sun. Throw in a sweet little breeze and it was a perfect evening.
Shorts and shells.

5:00-5:30: Typical walkthrough things. Brian Hoyer got significant time under center.

5:30-5:40: Running the width of the field. Same ol', same ol'. The biggest difference was probably seeing Gronkowski on an elliptical machine with all the other rehabbing players. More on that in a minute.

5:40-5:44: Positional warm-up drills and dynamic stretching.

5:44-5:48: The key special teams unit worked on kickoff blocking assignments. Elsewhere on the field, guys split off and did positional drills. Kind of funny -- while the offensive line was going through the motions with tackling dummies, Justin Francis stuck Tim Bulman with one of the big blue pads and pancaked his teammate. Oops. Bulman had a chance to retaliate when they swapped positions, but didn't.

Over in the secondary, cornerbacks practiced their backpedal and getting their hands on a pass. Will Allen missed badly on one chance and dropped down to do some push-ups. Not sure if that was a self-imposed punishment or not.

6:02: 7-on-7. Nothing major to report here as Brady looked decent, getting receptions from Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Lloyd, and Julian Edelman. Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett also got reps.

6:08: Kickoff return

6:something (sorry): 11-on-11

6:26: Kickoff return

6:32: 11-on-11

6:50: Huddle up.

WHAT WE SAWBrandon Spikes re-returned to action. He wore a soft knee brace but mixed in to most all the drills.

DNP: Rob Gronkowski (in head-to-toe sweats and a backwards hat), James Ihedigbo, Britt Davis (injured his shoulder against the Saints), Spencer Larsen, Tracy White, Dane Fletcher (ACL injury; out for season), Matt Kopa, Visanthe Shiancoe, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard, Myron Pryor, Gerard Warren, Jonathan Fanene, Eric Kettani, Markus Zusevics, Kyle Hix, Sebastian Vollmer, Alfonzo Dennard, Ron Brace, and Malcolm Williams.

Worried about Gronkowski? Don't -- not yet, anyway. The tight end likely got an extra day off before Belichick takes New England to the wall. No need to push too hard too early.

No word on why Ihedigbo didn't participate. He did wear a red no-contact jersey for the first two weeks of camp.

Dont'a Hightower. Though he didn't do anything remarkable during Thursday's game, the rookie linebacker had two picks -- one against Brady, the other against Mallett) during 11-on-11.

I'm putting Jerod Mayo in this category, but not because of his play. Sure, he was solid as usual. The thing that got my attention, though, was how vocal he was. You could hear Mayo guiding the defense on every snap he played.

The offense. Really. To Hightower's interceptions, add two more for the defense. Devin McCourty snatched a Mallett ball intended for Matt Slater. Marquice Cole got his hands on a Hoyer pass that targeted Jeremy Ebert.

I lost track of how many passes went off fingertips (Julian Edelman, Donte' Stallworth), through hands (Brandon Bolden, Wes Welker), got thrown away, or missed the mark completely. Not pretty.

Sergio Brown. During positional drills he wasn't even in the neighborhood on one ball that was thrown his way. Just one example of how his coverage is generally awful.

Kyle Hill. The new tackle ran the only lap of the day after he got a penalty during 11-on-11. (Remember, the postcard judges on one day's effort. Harsh, but true.)

"Put a brace on, tape an aspirin to it and go.'' -- Logan Mankins on how he played through the pain of a torn ACL.

THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Raiders score on final play for 31-30 win over Chiefs


THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Raiders score on final play for 31-30 win over Chiefs

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Wins have been so hard to come by for the Oakland Raiders that it took three tries at the final play for them finally to pull this one out and possibly save their season.

Derek Carr threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree on the final play after the game was extended by two straight defensive holding calls and the Raiders snapped a four-game losing streak with a 31-30 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

"We didn't give up," Crabtree said. "We got a team full of fighters. We believe. ... No matter how hard the game was, we believed. We came out with the W and I'm excited. It's a good way to win, a great way to win."

With their season on the line following the recent slump, Carr led an 85-yard touchdown drive in the final 2:25 to give the Raiders (3-4) the thrilling comeback in a game they trailed by nine points heading into the fourth quarter.

Carr finished 29 for 52 for 417 yards and three touchdowns, with Amari Cooper catching 11 passes for 210 yards and two of the scores. The Raiders had struggled to get the ball downfield while being held to 17 or fewer points in four straight games but Carr repeatedly beat the Chiefs with deep passes.

"No. 4 kept making plays," coach Jack Del Rio said. "This is a special, special win."

Alex Smith threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns but it wasn't enough for the Chiefs (5-2). They lost consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 11-18, 2015, and had their 12-game winning streak in the AFC West snapped in a thrilling finish.

"I've never been part of a game that came down so dramatic," linebacker Derrick Johnson said. "But, still had a chance to win. Period. Just have to make a play. One play. One play."

The Raiders had an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass to Jared Cook with 18 seconds left overturned when replay ruled he was down at the 1. An offensive pass interference on Crabtree wiped out another touchdown on the next play.

But holding calls on Ron Parker and Eric Murray set the stage for the final play. Carr hit Crabtree in the front corner of the end zone to tie it at 30. Giorgio Tavecchio won it with the extra point , setting off a celebration on a wild night that included Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch getting ejected in the second quarter for shoving an official.

HOT TEMPERS: The game took an odd turn midway through the second quarter after Kansas City's Marcus Peters hit Carr late, angering the Raiders. Offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele and Donald Penn confronted Peters and Lynch sprinted off the Oakland sideline to join the fray. Lynch, a close friend of Peters, ended up shoving line judge Julian Mapp and getting ejected . Peters also was called for a personal foul on the play. Lynch congratulated his teammates in the locker room after the game but didn't speak to reporters.

"I was disappointed he ran out because I knew we had a 15-yard penalty and we'd be in good shape," Del Rio said.

LONG DRIVE: After Marquette King pinned the Chiefs at their own 1 with a perfect punt early in the second quarter, Kansas City needed little time to turn the momentum. Smith hit Demarcus Robinson on a 33-yard pass on the first play of the drive. After a short run, Tyreek Hill beat David Amerson for a 64-yard touchdown pass that gave the Chiefs their first 99-yard drive since doing it Dec. 3, 2006, against Cleveland.

DEEP CONNECTION: Carr had not connected on a single deep ball to Amari Cooper all season before the two teamed twice for long TDs in the opening quarter. On the first, Cooper appeared to push Terrance Mitchell but the officials picked up the flag and gave Cooper the 38-yard TD . Later in the quarter Carr and Cooper connected on a 45-yard score, making Cooper the first Raiders receiver with two TD catches in the first quarter since Mervyn Fernandez in 1989.

KICKING WOES: The Raiders were hurt last week when a bad snap by Jon Condo led to a missed extra point by Giorgio Tavecchio in a 17-16 loss to the Chargers. That was Tavecchio's first missed kick of any kind this season but he then had a 53-yarder blocked and missed a 45-yarder wide left in the second quarter. Tavecchio also had a false start on an extra point in the third quarter.


Chiefs: Host Denver on Oct. 30.

Raiders: Visit Buffalo on Oct. 29.