ALLEN PARK, Michigan — Wednesday's joint practice with the Lions was expected to be a laid-back session, and it might've been even more laid-back than we thought. Players were in shells and shorts and conducted a walkthrough ahead of Thursday's preseason game.
Here's what you need to know . . .
It's worth noting N'Keal Harry was on the field, in uniform, helmet on with the rest of his teammates. He was limited late in Tuesday's practice after suffering some kind of lower-body ailment. He went through warmups with his teammates — everything was done at a very light pace — and then he did not take part in the walkthrough portion. Feels as though he may have an off day coming Thursday.
Same crew as always was missing: Cam Meredith, Lance Kendricks, Yodny Cajuste, Ken Webster and Nate Ebner weren't available. Rex Burkhead, Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas were around but not in uniform.
WHO'S DUE FOR A NIGHT OFF?
Tom Brady didn't run through the walkthrough portion of practice. Brian Hoyer got the first-team reps, which is probably an indication that Brady is due for a night off after a couple of busy days of practice here in Michigan. Brady did, however, get some conditioning in. He sprinted while tethered to a Patriots staffer for some resistance, as he often does during camp. And because of the nature of the practice, he probably moved faster than anyone on the field Wednesday. Not often he can say that.
Other Patriots players who didn't participate in the walkthrough portion of the morning's work were Sony Michel, James White, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty, Kyle Van Noy, Dont'a Hightower, Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Jonathan Jones and Patrick Chung. Others who weren't spotted lining up on Wednesday were receivers Dontrelle Inman and Maurice Harris. It'd be interesting if those two didn't see any action Wednesday, but perhaps because they're veteran players who saw plenty of work on Monday and Tuesday, they'll be given a night off. Phillip Dorsett, though, another veteran who played a bunch this week, was out there. We'll have a close eye on the receiver group Thursday night.
WHO'S DUE FOR PLENTY OF PLAYING TIME?
At receiver, I'd expect Jakobi Meyers and Braxton Berrios to be working with the top offensive group. They've worked with starters this week, and both were out there for Wednesday's walkthrough. Players like Ryan Davis and Gunner Olszewski could also see their fair share of targets.
At tight end, Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson and Ben Watson could also see significant time. It'll be interesting to see how much time Watson gets this preseason since he'll miss the first four games of the regular season. I wonder if we'll also see a fair amount of Andrew Beck, a fullback/tight end, out there. He actually took a handoff in the walkthrough and maybe he'll be asked to do some of that if the work handed to the backs feels like a lot. Nick Brossette should get a lot of touches out of the backfield Thursday, as should Damien Harris. But with Burkhead likely out and with Michel and White sitting, there may be a little too much for those two to handle.
Obviously we'll see Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham get plenty of chances to chuck it. Stidham has been great in 7-on-7, but can he be accurate and decisive when the reps are live?
Defensively I'd assume that the Patriots will dip into their linebacker depth to have a nice rotation going between Derek Rivers, Chase Winovich, Trent Harris and Shilique Calhoun. I'd also expect some of their big bodies in their 3-4 front — Byron Cowart, David Parry, Ufomba Kamalu, Nick Thurman for instance — to get a fair amount of time.
Obi Melifonwu could see a good chunk of snaps on the back end, as could young corners J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen. I'm interested to see rookie corner D'Angelo Ross — who stands 5-foot-9, 190 pounds — get a lot of work. He's always tight in coverage in the reps we've seen him take, and he's gotten his hands on footballs consistently. Can he keep it up?
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