Postcard From Camp, Day 6: Michel, Cannon leave early
FOXBORO — Bill Belichick smiled as he stepped to the podium. After a day off for his players, he knew Wednesday represented an opportunity to ratchet up the intensity a bit.
Players took the field soon thereafter in full pads, ready to approach another phase of camp before they prepare for preseason game No. 1 in earnest next week.
Here’s what we saw . . .
Both Sony Michel (pictured taking handoff from Tom Brady) and Marcus Cannon left practice early. Michel spent time on a stationary bike and then inside the small blue tent with training staff before departing.
The only players not spotted at Wednesday’s workout was Jordan Matthews. Players on PUP — Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner, Cyrus Jones, Jon Jones, Kenny Britt and Darren Andrews — worked on a lower field. Same goes for Keion Crossen, John Atkins and Mike Gillislee, all of whom are dealing with injury.
HALF LINE DRILLS
Rob Gronkowski (pictured) and Trent Brown started things off on a strong note for the offense, which was followed up by another dominant rep from Dwayne Allen and Isaiah Wynn. The top-two tight end/left tackle pairings can move people when they want to.
David Andrews (disposing of Adam Butler) and Brown (casting aside Deatrich Wise) continued what was a very good period for the offensive line. Brown did have to run a lap during the drill, and Adrian Clayborn beat Brown to the edge one a positive snap for the defense. Clayborn lost his helmet in the process but his effort seemed to earn him plaudits from defensive line coach Brendan Daly.
Brady dropped in a perfect pass to Chris Hogan (pictured) with JC Jackson in very tight coverage. Jackson didn’t make an over-the-top effort to attack the football, but that doesn’t change the fact that the throw was on point from about 45 yards away.
Brady later hit Jacob Hollister on a nice route that beat Duron Harmon.
Ralph Webb had a drop off a throw from Danny Etling, and Jomal Wiltz committed an obvious hold down the field when he couldn’t stick with Phillip Dorsett.
Trent Brown continued to show up with the pads on, winning all four of his reps, including two against Wise and one against Clayborn. Also with a strong day up front? Ted Karras, who stoned Danny Shelton and Butler in back-to-back snaps. Karras and Malcom Brown also locked horns later and came to a draw. LaAdrian Waddle also showed up, stopping an initial jolt from Trey Flowers on one rep to hold his own. Waddle also seemed to get the better of Kyle Van Noy. The two seemed to give each other a little extra after the whistle and were quickly separated.
Lawrence Guy (93, pictured with Vincent Valentine) and Shaq Mason each won one rep against the other, and Thuney and Guy appeared to come to a stalemate. Andrews got the best of Malcom Brown on one rep, and Matt Tobin beat Dont’a Hightower on a snap when Hightower appeared to stop mid-rep. Hightower looked like he was moving slowly after the drill but remained at practice
Vincent Valentine (99, pictured with Lawrence Guy) ran a lap for jumping offsides at one point.
The 11-on-11 periods Wednesday were more focused on the run game than the pass (perhaps because numbers are down at receiver at the moment). One of the beneficiaries of another run-game-centric day was Jeremy Hill. With Mike Gillislee unavailable, and with Sony Michel leaving practice early, it was Hill who saw a large portion of the reps, sharing time with Rex Burkhead, Brandon Bolden and James White. Hill saw most of his reps with Brady under center and was the first back on the field for 11-on-11s with Brady.
Brady flashed some emotion during his first series of 11-on-11 when a Bolden run seemed to be executed to his liking. It hasn't been often that we've heard Brady's voice ring out across the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium, but it did then.
Again, the passing game wasn't the focus Wednesday, but there were a handful of competitive throws made. Brady completed 4-for-7, but one was dropped by White, and one incompletion was a screen that had no chance. Stephon Gilmore forced the third incompletion by breaking up an attempt to Chris Hogan. Gilmore continues to make a play or two a day that stands out. He's been the best defensive player on the field through six practices.
Brian Hoyer went 6-for-7 in 11-on-11 work. His lone incompletion came when he made a throw to Rob Gronkowski down the seam that was impressively broken up by Ryan Lewis.
The Patriots ran through a hurry-up period at the end of practice, but -- as has typically been the case during hurry-up periods early in camp -- defenders were allowing their assignments to catch passes.