Postcard from camp: Pads come on for Patriots


Postcard from camp: Pads come on for Patriots

FOXBORO -- The Patriots took the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Saturday for their third day of training camp practice -- the team's first in pads.

Sunny and with temperatures in the 80s once again. The Patriots could not have asked for better weather through the first three days of practice.

Pads were introduced for the first time on the first day the team was eligible, per the collective bargaining agreement, to practice in them. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo and linebackers Dont'a Hightower and Xzavier Dickson all wore red non-contact jerseys.

LeGarrette Blount was on the field and in pads. It's his first practice of training camp, which means he's been removed from the non-football injury list. He reportedly failed his conditioning test on Wednesday, making him unavailable for practice.

Second-year defensive lineman Dominique Easley was on the field for the first time since workouts began in the spring. He's wearing a new number, No. 99, this season.

Hightower, Jerod Mayo and Chandler Jones were present and in pads. None of the three practiced this spring in OTAs or minicamp and there was some question as to how involved they would be when pads were introduced.

Alan Branch and Matt Flynn -- on the NFI list -- were present for the session but did not participate. Dane Fletcher, Ryan Wendell and undrafted rookie Vince Taylor, on the physically unable to perform list, were spotted as well.

Corner Derek Cox and linebacker DJ Lynch, both of whom left practice on Friday with injuries, were not present. Players on the PUP list -- Matthew Slater Brandon LaFell, Chris Jones, Chris White -- were not spotted.

After warm-ups and stretching, the players broke off into positional groups for drills. Front-seven players performed a pass-rush drill run by Bill Belichick's son, coaching assistant Steve Belichick, and at one point linebackers worked on their drops in the passing game.

Special teams periods appeared to focus on the snapping operation for the punt unit. Long-snapper Joe Cardona threw to Ryan Allen, while personal protector Nate Ebner stood close by. Special teams coach Joe Judge and assistant Ray Ventrone were very involved as Cardona worked on picking up rushers.

When the offense and defense broke off into separate units, defensive backs joined linebackers and defensive linemen to work on filling running lanes and having their angles of pursuit coordinated.

During one period, Brady worked with receivers who ran combination routes against defensive backs. The goal was for two wideouts to find openings against three defensive backs -- two corners and a safety. On the adjacent field, Jimmy Garoppolo worked with running backs, offensive linemen and tight ends to find running lanes against defensive linemen and linebackers.

Later in the session, the team loaded up on one-on-one work in the passing game and for line-of-scrimmage players -- offensive lineman versus defensive linemen and linebackers. Seven-on-seven work and 11-on-11 followed, with nice plays coming in particular from some of the Patriots bigger offensive targets as well as strong work from the secondary for the second consecutive day.

The practice finished with hurry-up work and field goals off of the foot of Stephen Gostkowski.

* It didn't come against the Patriots offense, but Jamie Collins made a one-handed grab during a drop-into-coverage drill that showcased his elite athleticism.
* Sealver Siliga and LeGarrette Blount were asked to run laps, though it wasn't clear as to why.
* Aaron Dobson made a nice grab in back of the end zone against Jimmy Jean, where he had to firmly secure the ball with Jean swiping at it.
* Brady spent time with Scott Chandler and Rob Gronkowski in a side session. Meanwhile, Jimmy Garoppolo continued to do his mental exercises with director of player personnel Nick Caserio playing safety.
* Zach Moore seemed to get some good reps inside alongside Rob Ninkovich on the defensive line. Antonio Johnson saw reps on the interior of the defensive line with that group as well.
* Offensive lineman Kevin Hughes came off the field with about an hour left in practice.
* Dion Lewis, James White and Josh Boyce returned kicks in a practice where special teams focused on the kick and kick return units.

* Jerod Mayo made a nice pass break-up of James White with an aggressive swat at a ball that was almost caught.
* Very good quickness from Blount to shake Jamie Collins. The crown audible oohed and ahhed at the move that got Blount open.
* Jake Bequette made a pair of nice catches with safeties Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson in good position.

* The Patriots offense and defense squared off in a hard-hitting interior-run session about halfway through the practice. James Develin rang in the new season with a smothering lead block on the second level a linebacker to clear the way for Jonas Gray. Develin had a few loud battles with linebacker James Morris.
* The biggest hit of the period came courtesy of Sealver Siliga who de-cleated running back Tyler Gaffney on a clean hit near the line of scrimmage.
* Easley got a great great jump off the snap but was side-stepped by Blount. Good initial burst from Easley, but perhaps a little bit of rust that still needs to be shaken off.

* Corner Malcolm Butler had a second consecutive very good day in camp. He had his hands in passing lanes consistently and recorded multiple deflections. Even when he was beaten, like on one competitive rep with Julian Edelman, he was in tight coverage.

* Rookie safety Jordan Richards showed up in coverage for the third straight day. He batted a pass away from Scott Chandler, who was running down the seam, during a one-on-one period. On a day when multiple rookies spoke to reporters, he drew one of the largest crowds.

* Though he was stripped by Jamie Collins in an 11-on-11 period, we'll use this space to point out that Aaron Dobson flashed his unique traits as a receiver -- size and leaping ability, namely -- on a pair of catches. His second was perhaps the best of the day, when he laid out on a deep-out route and made a finger-tip catch on a perfectly-thrown ball from Tom Brady.

* In his first day back on the field, LeGarrette Blount looked quick and elusive. At 250 pounds, he's still a load.

* Second-year center Bryan Stork might have been the team's top offensive lineman during one-on-one drills, defeating defensive tackle Sealver Siliga on a pair of occasions.

* Offensive lineman Kevin Hughes appeared to have a difficult rep or two in one-on-ones. Linebacker Eric Martin got him on one particular snap.

* Brian Tyms appeared to come up lame after one route. He met with trainer Jim Whalen afterward but remained on the field and was a regular participant in drills. He appeared somewhat hobbled by the ailment later in the practice so it's worth keeping an eye on his availability as camp continues.

* Joe Vellano made quick work of rookie guard Shaq Mason.
* Brian Stork defeated Sealver Siliga twice, once knocking Siliga to a knee.
* Jabaal Sheard made a good move to get past Marcus Cannon.
* Josh Kline appeared to handle rookie first-round pick Malcom Brown on a pair of occasions.
* Geneo Grissom beat Cameron Fleming to the inside on one snap.
* Undrafted rookie center David Andrews had a good moment versus Brown.
* Rookie fourth-rounder Trey Flowers had a competitive rep with left tackle Nate Solder.
* Dekoda Watson was taken to the ground by Fleming.
* Rookie guard Tre' Jackson won on one rep against Vellano. He also held firm against Brown.
* Dominique Easley beat Cannon, but it appeared as though Cannon slipped.

* Daxton Swanson had a nice rep against Danny Amendola to help force an incompletion.
* Malcolm Butler and Julian Edelman had very competitive moment that resulted in an Edelman grab, though he was close to landing out of bounds.
* Robert McClain was very physical in the slot during a rep on Jonathan Krause.
* Tyms with a bad route, pulled up hobbled and spent time with trainer Jim Whalen.
* Fun moment for fans came when Butler deflected a pass intended for Amendola. The ball bounced straight up and Amendola came down with it in the end zone. Butler playfully ran over and pounced on Amendola in a play that was somewhat reminiscent of the play late in Super Bowl XLIX when Butler swatted a pass intended for Jermaine Kearse that miraculously ended up in Kearses hands.

7-ON-7 (with racquets on the defensive line as obstacles for quarterbacks)
* Brady complete to Michael Hoomanawanui in the flat.
* Brady complete to Josh Boyce over the middle. Good coverage by Malcolm Butler. Better catch.
* Brady complete to Edelman over the middle with Logan Ryan in coverage.
* Brady incomplete to Boyce deep down the sideline. Slightly under-thrown ball by Brady. Pass broken up by Ryan.
* Brady incomplete to Rob Gronkowski. Hightower handled Gronkowski's physical release in tight coverage.

* Garoppolo complete to Aaron Dobson.
* Garoppolo incomplete to Danny Amendola. Ball thrown behind his target, it appeared.
* Garoppolo complete to Scott Chandler on the sideline with Tavon Wilson in coverage.
* Garoppolo complete to Brian Tyms who found an opening in front of Jimmy Jean.
* Garoppolo complete to Gibson.

* Garoppolo complete to Chandler.
* Garoppolo pass intended for Tyms was broken up by Butler.
* Garoppolo complete to Gibson. Butler makes the quick tackle.
* Garoppolo incomplete deep down the sideline to Tyms. Tyms comes up limping again.
* Garoppolo complete to Gronkowski down the seam.

* Brady complete to Gaffney.
* Brady complete deep to Dobson on a deep out. A laid-out grab from Dobson was one of the best catches of the day. Darryl Roberts was in coverage.
* Brady incomplete off the hands of Lewis.
* Brady complete to Chandler over the middle.
* Brady complete to Bequette on a ball thrown slightly behind.

* Brady complete to Dobson, who is stripped by Collins. Players got a taste of what it means to practice in pads. Because no whistle was blown, the play continued and Devin McCourty tried to pick up yardage on a return. The offense made a halfhearted attempt to stop the return, which prompted the entire offense to get an apparent scolding from the coaching staff. The entire offense ran a lap before the next play.
* Brady complete to Amendola over the middle with Butler in coverage.
* James White run up the middle.
* Blount makes a nice cut-back run. Looks like the big back may have fresh legs after missing two days of practice.
* Brady takes a "sack."

* Garoppolo hand-off to Blount.
* Dion Lewis run up the middle, tackled by Jonathan Freeny.
* Garoppolo complete to Travaris Cadet on a screen pass.
* Gaffney run up the middle, tackled by James Morris.
* Jonas Gray up the middle.
* Blount run to the left. Hard to bring down on first contact.

* Brandon Bolden run up the left sideline.
* Garoppolo incomplete. Pass was intended for Dobson but broken up by Logan Ryan.
* White run to the left.
* White run up the middle.
* Blount run to the right. Big pop from Ebner though Blount kept his feet.
* Garoppolo complete to Chandler.

* Brady complete to Boyce with Harmon in coverage.
* Brady complete to Gaffney over the middle.
* Gaffney run up the middle, hit hard by Rufus Johnson.
* Dion Lewis run to the left.
* Brady complete to Lewis on a screen. Hard hit from Eric Martin.

* Brady complete to Edelman.
* Brady complete to Chandler.
* Garoppolo complete to Cadet.
* Garoppolo complete to Cadet.
* Brady complete to Chandler.
* Garoppolo complete to Tyms.
* Brady to White.
* Garoppolo to Cadet.
* Brady to Amendola.
* Brady to Amendola.
* Garoppolo incomplete.
* Garoppolo to Hoomanawanui.

Patriots video showed 'direct view' of Bengals sideline for 'eight minutes,' report says

Patriots video showed 'direct view' of Bengals sideline for 'eight minutes,' report says

More details are emerging about what happened in Cleveland during last Sunday's Browns-Cincinnati Bengals game, and they're not a great look for the New England Patriots.

According to The Athletic's Paul Dehner Jr., a member of the Patriots' production crew "wearing Boston Bruins gear" was spotted in the Cleveland press box capturing extended footage from the Bengals' sideline.

From Dehner:

According to sources who have viewed the tape, it shows about eight minutes of data focusing on recording the Bengals’ sideline. It’s a direct view of the sideline as players run on and off the field and coaches make signals for plays.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor confirmed Monday the NFL is investigating the Patriots for having a film crew at Sunday's game.

Here's New England's perspective: In a statement Monday, the team said the film crew was dispatched by a production crew working independently from football operations to shoot a feature on a Patriots advance scout for "Do Your Job," a video series on that highlights the work of various staffers.

Head coach Bill Belichick insisted he had no knowledge or involvement in what the film crew and that it's a completely independent operation from the team.

But even if Belichick was unaware of what was going on, the Patriots videotaping an opposing team's sideline to identify signals (New England plays Cincinnati this Sunday) is a far more serious offense than simply shooting footage of an advance scout at work.

"This isn’t an over-the-shoulder of the advanced scout who is doing his job stuff," Dehner wrote. "This is shooting the sideline. For an extended period of time.

"The egregious nature of the video is why it set off the firestorm it did during the game with the Bengals executives in the press box."

The NFL's investigation still is ongoing, so expect more developments as this story unfolds.

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Josh McDaniels details how he wants to help Patriots' N'Keal Harry be impactful

Josh McDaniels details how he wants to help Patriots' N'Keal Harry be impactful

Rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry, in four games with the New England Patriots, has shown flashes of the impressive talent that made the team select him in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He just hasn't been able to show his skills on a consistent basis throughout these individual games.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, speaking on a media conference call Tuesday, talked about how he plans to put Harry in positions where he can use this athleticism and size to help the Patriots offense improve.

"We know he's big and not easy tackle," McDaniels said. "I need to do a better job of finding ways to get him in space, get him the ball, and let him have an opportunity to (make plays)."

One example of getting Harry into space came on perhaps the most controversial play of the Patriots' 23-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady completed a pass to Harry behind the line of scrimmage, and the Patriots wideout evaded a few defenders before diving toward the pylon. Harry was ruled out at the 3-yard line, even though replays showed he never stepped out of bounds. The Patriots couldn't challenge the play because they had no challenges remaining. They eventually settled for a field goal on that drive.

Despite the unfortunate ending to the play, it was a good example of what Harry can do when he has the ball in his hands in the open field.

"He made a great individual effort," McDaniels said of Harry's near-touchdown. "Broke a tackle, had good balance there to finish the play and give us an opportunity to score. He's a big guy. He's not easy to get to the ground."

It's easy to see why the Patriots are hesitant to make Harry one of the focal points of the offensive attack. He's still learning the offense. He has only four games of experience, and he doesn't have much of a rapport with Brady because of his lack of experience. However, it's not like the Patriots have a ton of other options right now. Veteran wideouts Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett have failed to make an impact in recent weeks. In fairness, injuries have impacted both players, but these veterans need to play at a much higher level if they're healthy enough to be on the field.

Several others contending teams have incorporated rookie wide receivers into their offense with plenty of success this season. Some of the best examples are Deebo Samuel with the San Francisco 49ers, D.K. Metcalf of the Seattle Seahawks and A.J. Brown of the Tennessee Titans. 

The Patriots would be wise to use Harry more often, and Sunday's game against a last-place Cincinnati Bengals team is a great opportunity to give him a bunch of snaps.

Curran: Separating fact from fiction of NFL investigation into Patriots

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