FOXBORO - There was one notable absence from Thursday's proceedings on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, Day 3 of mandatory minicamp: Malcolm Butler.
One half of one of the top cornerback duos in the league, Butler had been at both of the previous minicamp workouts earlier this week. With Butler out, cornerback Eric Rowe saw a bit more work against the top group of Patriots offensive weapons. Stephon Gilmore, who saw reps with the second group of defensive backs on Wednesday, was back with the top group.
Here are a handful of other observations from the practice . . .
* Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy was also absent on Thursday. He missed Wednesday's practice as well. Undrafted rookie offensive lineman Andrew Jelks was not spotted, either. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower, receiver Malcolm Mitchell and defensive lineman Alan Branch did not participate but worked out on a lower field.
* Defensive lineman Kony Ealy departed the practice field and headed toward the locker room with about an hour remaining in the workout and did not return.
* Early in the session, quarterbacks and receivers worked on "scramble drill" plays with no defense. Later on, red-zone work and hurry-up came into focus.
* Defensively, corners and safeties worked on dropping into zones. They were also drilled on passing off receivers when targets floated in and out of their areas.
* A pair of defensive backs had two of the better plays of the day. During 7-on-7 work, Rowe made a one-handed interception along the sideline while in coverage on Danny Amendola. Soon thereafter, Patrick Chung broke up what would have been a long completion from Tom Brady to Rob Gronkowski. Chung has seen plenty of Gronkowski over the course of the last three days. He indicated after the workout -- which included a meeting with The Hills -- that he was exhausted.
* A couple of new acquisitions for the Patriots offense continue to indoctrinated in the detail-oriented fashion in which practices are run. Running back Rex Burkhead took coaching from Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady for the second consecutive day on the nuances of route-running depending on the posture of the defensive back covering him. Meanwhile, tight end Dwayne Allen was met by Brady for what appeared to be some instruction soon after an incompletion during a 7-on-7 period.
* Undrafted rookies Kenny Moore and Harvey Langi were both asked to run laps at one point. Chris Hogan took a lap as well after committing a false-start penalty during 11-on-11 work. The entire defense -- including coordinator Matt Patricia -- ran laps after two consecutive mishaps during 11-on-11 work.
* For the second consecutive day, Vanderbilt coaches were present at practice, as was San Antonio Spurs vice president of basketball operations Monty Williams.