Takeaways from Day 3 of minicamp: Belichick focused on details

Takeaways from Day 3 of minicamp: Belichick focused on details

FOXBORO -- The Patriots finished their third and final day of minicamp practice on Thursday. Here are a few quick notes from the mandatory session. 

* Tight end Michael Williams was the lone new absence to practice. He reportedly will be placed on IR after he tore his left ACL. He suffered an injury Wednesday and was driven off the field after walking over to a cart under his own power. 

* There were 15 players missing from practice in total: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, LeGarrette Blount, Dion Lewis, Rob Gronkowski, Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Josh Kline, Tre' Jackson, Shaq Mason, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, CJ Johnson and Nate Ebner. 

* Rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell, running back Brandon Bolden and tight end Clay Harbor were back on the field for Thursday's work after missing from the field on Wednesday.

* Defensive end Jabaal Sheard spent some time early in the workout having his leg looked at while sitting down on the sideline. He eventually got back to his feet and seemed to participate normally in defensive drills.

* Sheard and Malcom Brown did a jersey swap for Thursday's session, with Sheard wearing No. 90 and Brown wearing No. 93.

* Bill Belichick the teacher went to work soon after the warm-up period ended, lecturing quarterbacks for a few minutes on the intricacies of the hand-off. That instructional session was followed by a hand-off drill where the quarterbacks and running backs worked to make their exchange at the proper depth in the backfield and from the proper angle. 

* Rookie running back DJ Foster spent some time working one-on-one with special teams coach Joe Judge early in the practice. Foster has seen plenty of reps as a punt returner, and Judge did his best to improve the Arizona State product's form. Rookie corner V'Angelo Bentley and receiver Keshawn Martin also saw some time as returners early in the practice. Rookie corner Cyrus Jones continued to see work as a returner on Thursday as well. 

* Foster sustained an apparent left hamstring injury mid-way through the practice and remained sidelined. 

* Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown was present at practice for the second time this week. He worked with both pass-catchers and punt returners. Brown could be seen sharing some tips with Jones after the rookie muffed a punt about an hour into the session. 

* Tom Brady lauded running back James White for a route that White ran in a passing drill early in the practice. The third-year running back has displayed good hands and crip route-running abilities this week. 

* Second-year tight end AJ Derby was spotted running a lap during a half-speed team offensive period. Offensive lineman Ted Karras was also sent for a lap in the first half of the session. 

* Jimmy Garoppolo spent time with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, tight end Martellus Bennett and receivers Aaron Dobson, Malcolm Mitchell and Nate Washington in a side session. Typically, it's Brady who is the quarterback involved in those off-to-the-side periods, but today Garoppolo was the signal-caller involved. 

* Mitchell had an opportunity to take some repetitions with Brady and tested Malcolm Butler deep down the sideline at one point. Butler found Brady's attempt and swatted it away before Mitchell could get his mitts on it. Mitchell later made the play of the day when he reeled in a leaping one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone on a well-placed throw from Jacoby Brissett. Several players on the Patriots sideline cheered audibly and tight ends coach Brian Daboll raised his arms over his head in celebration.

* It was a windy day at Gillette Stadium, making passes down the field and toward the sideline difficult to throw accurately. The wind seemed to play with Ryan Allen's punts as well and may have made the job of the punt returners a bit more difficult. 

* Dont'a Hightower picked off a pass from Garoppolo late in the practice. Soon thereafter, on the adjacent field, rookie linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill intercepted Jacoby Brissett. Both picks came during a hurry-up period near the end of practice. 

* Garoppolo threw another pick during a 2-on-2 portion of practice. Jones was the culprit this time around. The second-rounder out of Alabama has displayed good quickness and dependable hands (his muffed punt Thursday aside) throughout minicamp.

Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31


Ryan's 2 TD passes enough as Falcons hold off Seahawks 34-31

SEATTLE - Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons did enough through 3 1/2 quarters that even the best comeback attempt by Russell Wilson fell short this time.

A couple of yards short to be exact.

Ryan threw a pair of touchdown passes, Adrian Clayborn returned a fumble 10 yards for a score and the Falcons watched Blair Walsh's 52-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds fall short, holding off the Seattle Seahawks for a 34-31 win on Monday night.

Atlanta won its second straight to stay on the heels of New Orleans and Carolina in the NFC South, and handed Seattle a second consecutive home loss.

"What an absolute team win from the guys tonight," Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. "Coming here, in this environment, with the crowd, we thought it would be two competitive, tough teams that were going to battle for it in the biggest way."

Ryan threw TDs to Mohamed Sanu and Levine Toilolo, while Tevin Coleman added a 1-yard TD run on Atlanta's opening possession.

But it was Clayborn's fumble return that helped break the game open early in the second quarter and gave Atlanta a 21-7 lead. He scooped up a loose ball after Wilson was crunched by Takk McKinley and Courtney Upshaw.

"I think we're moving in the right direction. We keep proving we can finish games and beat guys. We have to take the momentum and keep rolling with it," Clayborn said.

With Seattle down 11 points, Wilson hit Doug Baldwin on a 29-yard TD with 3 minutes left and then threw to Jimmy Graham for the two-point conversion. Seattle got the ball back and moved in range for Walsh, whose attempt was on line but landed short of the crossbar.

"That was in our range, and in hindsight I would have just driven it more," Walsh said. "I would have driven it more and not left it short. I was too accurate and didn't have enough on it."

Wilson again was the entirety of Seattle's offense, throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns, and running for another 86 yards and a TD.

But it was an awful night for the Seahawks, filled with more injuries and questionable decisions by coach Pete Carroll. He called for a fake field goal late in the first half rather than attempting a 35-yard kick. He also made a questionable challenge in the fourth quarter that didn't go his way and left Seattle with just one timeout.

That lack of timeouts came back to haunt Seattle on the final drive when seconds ticked away and rather than running one more play, Walsh was sent out to attempt the 52-yard kick. His long for the season is 49 yards.

The conclusion only amplified Carroll's baffling decision at the end of the first half, when Seattle ran a fake field goal rather than having Walsh attempt a 35-yarder that would have pulled Seattle within 24-20. Holder Jon Ryan completed his shovel pass to Luke Willson, but Grady Jarrett read the play and tackled Willson for a 4-yard loss.

Willson said Atlanta's defense on the play was different than what Seattle had seen on film.

"It would have been a really good call if we had made it," Carroll said. "Terrific opportunity right where we wanted it and the defensive tackle made a better play."

Seattle played a game for the first time since the end of the 2010 season without Richard Sherman. His streak of 99 consecutive starts in the regular season was snapped because of a torn Achilles tendon suffered against Arizona. The Seahawks were also without safety Kam Chancellor because of a neck injury, leaving their vaunted secondary with several new faces.

"Those two are phenomenal players. ... It was a lot different," Sanu said. "They did a lot of different things but we just had to take advantage of our routes."


Ryan was more than happy to pick on a defense without Sherman and Chancellor. He was 19 of 27 passing for 195 yards and rarely faced pressure. Seattle had one sack, and the Falcons went 9 of 14 on third-down conversions.

Sanu made a great one-handed grab for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Ryan found Toilolo on a 25-yard TD in the third quarter to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead. Matt Bryant added a 19-yard field goal with 3:49 left to put the Falcons ahead by 11, and Wilson's late heroics weren't enough.

Ryan's streak of 64 straight games passing for at least 200 yards was snapped.


Seattle's injury woes continued. The Seahawks lost rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin to a concussion on the second play of the game, forcing newly signed veteran Byron Maxwell into a more prominent role than expected.

Early in the second half, promising running back Mike Davis was lost to a groin injury after taking a screen pass 21 yards. Davis had two receptions and had carried six times for 18 yards before getting hurt. Seattle also lost starting guard Oday Aboushi in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.

Atlanta got a scare when safety Keanu Neal was checked for a concussion in the first half. He was cleared to return.


Falcons: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday to open a three-game homestand.

Seahawks: Travel to division foe San Francisco on Sunday.


EX-PATS PODCAST: How Belichick the perfectionist will find flaws in win vs. Raiders


EX-PATS PODCAST: How Belichick the perfectionist will find flaws in win vs. Raiders

0:55 - Patriots playing great as they stream roll the Raiders but Koppen explains that Belichick will knock them down as he strives for perfection. Also talk about how it takes a couple months into the season for the coaches and players to learn each other again.

5:40 - Stephon Gilmore playing excellent lined up against Michael Crabtree. Malcolm Butler bounces back but gives up the only score to Amari Cooper. Koppen suggest Butler’s contract situation might be affecting his play. 

7:50 - All in on the Patriots defense yet? Giardi and Koppen discuss the defensive play and the upcoming offenses the Patriots will be facing.

10:30 - Dan Koppen talks about job security in the NFL and if he ever worried about somebody else taking his job, and the cutthroat nature of the Patriots. 

13:50 - Tom Brady picking apart the Raiders and Jack Del Rio’s defenses throughout his career. 

17:45 - A debate about Patriots backup quarterbacks and if Matt Cassel was actually a good NFL QB. 

21:20 - A few game notes: Rex Burkhead’s fumble vs. the Raiders, LaAdrian Waddle filling in for Marcus Cannon.