FOXBORO — The Patriots went through a noticeably laid-back practice on Monday night for their annual in-stadium practice for season-ticket holders and Foxboro residents. That's typically the case for these sessions. Two days of pads in the heat on Saturday and Sunday . . . An odd playing surface at Gillette Stadium . . . Made sense to take it easy.
Here's what we saw.
SOD STATE OF AFFAIRS
The Patriots usually practice on the Field Turf laid down at Gillette Stadium when they conduct their lone in-stadium workout of the summer. This year, though, they played on the sod that had been laid down for the AC Milan-Benfica soccer game played over the weekend. The grass was burned out in spots after a scorcher of a weekend. It was a bit chewed up by the soccer. It was also laid down in strips and the seams between strips could be felt under the feet of those walking on top of the stuff. Even in a slower-paced practice, the Patriots training staff has to be thankful they escaped the night without injury.
Players on the physically unable to perform list were spotted at the session but didn't participate. They included Demaryius Thomas, Nate Ebner, Cole Croston and Ken Webster.
Julian Edelman was also in attendance, though he remains on the non-football injury list. Yodny Cajuste remains on NFI as well.
Byron Cowart and Dontrelle Inman missed another session Monday night. Limited in the light work were Isaiah Wynn and Deatrich Wise. Wynn continues to sit out of team drills.
David Andrews did a bit more than we'd been accustomed to seeing, but we'll see how active he is when the pads come back on later this week. In any event, any progress from the team's starting center, after missing the early portion of camp, is surely a welcome sight for teammates and staff.
WHAT THEY WORE
No pads. Consider it a bit of a recovery day after two consecutive days of contact over the weekend.
Patrick Chung wore a blue jersey for the first time in camp — a good sign for the Patriots defense. Chung had been in a red non-contact jersey for the previous four practices of camp.
OBSERVATIONS OF NOTE
We didn't see any competitive drills between the offense and defense on Monday night, but we did see the two units align 11-on-11 at times. One thing that caught our eye was something we'd seen sprinkled throughout practices in recent days: defenders wandering around without any real alignment pre-snap. That's something we saw quite a bit in passing situations late last season. It confused opposing quarterbacks — particularly Minnesota's Kirk Cousins, who had the misfortune of being the first quarterback to see those amorphous Patriots fronts with regularity — and helped the Patriots create pressure even without a fleet of uber-talented one-on-one rushers. Michael Bennett could end up playing the Trey Flowers role in those fronts.
Don't be surprised if "Pony" sets end up being the way in which the Patriots try to offset the lack of experienced receiving targets currently on the roster. Both James White and Rex Burkhead — at times simultaneously, the offense's "Pony" package — have seen the field a great deal through the early portion of camp.
N'Keal Harry had a drop in a non-competitive drill, his second such drop in camp thus far. Chalk those up as concentration drops. He's been sure-handed in competitive periods.
The Patriots won't practice Tuesday. They'll be back on the field for practice No. 6 at 9:45 am on Wednesday.
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