Observations from Day 1 (TKS Sage )

By Field Yates

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Some observations from the first day of Patriots training camp, a two-plus-hour session conducted today on the practice fields outside Gillette Stadium under a steady rainfall.

It was held in helmets and T-shirts, in accordance with the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. The team will begin full-pads practices on Sunday, at which point we’ll be able to evaluate the players far more comprehensively.

* Weather played a significant factor, especially in the passing game. A number of players dropped passes and the quarterbacks had some struggles with accuracy. Players like to start training camp on a positive note, but the wet conditions made that difficult.

* Running back Brandon Bolden was back on the field after missing offseason workouts with a sprained ankle, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Bolden looked spry and back to full strength, a good sign for the second-year running back who is in the mix among a crowded backfield.

* Early in practice, there was a rotation of drills among defensive players, and it was noteworthy to see the defensive backs start with form tackling work on the one-man sled. Tackling is something a team can always get better at, and though the secondary’s primary responsibilities often involve defending the pass, having reliable tacklers is essential.

* The Patriots made headlines last year when they used tennis rackets to help simulate the reach of Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt in advance of a pair of matchups. The rackets were out again Friday; this time they were used during individual drills for the wide receivers. As a concentration test, the rackets were waved in front of the receivers as they were attempting to catch a pass. Combine that with the rain and the receivers had their work cut out for them.

* Tough start to the day for WR Quentin Sims, a recently signed undrafted rookie. He struggled with drops early, which appeared to make him rethink the decision to wear gloves in the rainy conditions. He settled in eventually.

* Among the most important developments of the day, from this vantage point, was having rookie wide receiver Josh Boyce on the field. Boyce, who was severely limited in the offseason by a foot injury, is a natural hands catcher with smooth movements and precision to his routes. That’s consistent with what we saw in his college film. Assuming his foot is 100 percent, look for the fourth-round draft pick to continue to compete for reps.

* Not sure that we’d call LeGarrette Blount lightning quick, but he appeared to have a little more quickness on Day 1 of camp than he did during offseason work. Speed and elusiveness aren’t his game, but it appears he’s arrived in camp in good shape. He even got some work as one of the deep men on the kickoff-return unit, which was the special-teams focus of the day.

* Defensive lineman Marcus Forston was also moving around very well, especially during special-teams drills. He served as one of the up-men on kickoff return, a testament to his ability to play in space.

* As mentioned, the team focused on kickoff returns on special teams today. Leon Washington figures to be a top candidate to assume kick-return duties, and a couple of things stood out from his reps. First, he handles the football extremely well. Additionally, he runs with a narrow, track athlete-like base. That helps him navigates through tight creases.

* Though the rain affected each of the quarterbacks, it also allowed Ryan Mallett to showcase his arm strength. He drove a few impressive throws into tight windows. He can really sling it, though it came with an occasional misread.

* Veteran Kyle Arrington earned some time opposite Aqib Talib in the Patriots’ base defense, though Alfonzo Dennard was worked in as the second cornerback on occasion. In addition, Arrington was moved inside into a slot alignment when the team utilized some of its defensive subpackages.
By all indications, Tim Tebow wasn’t on top of his game on Day 1 of training camp.* Tim Tebow had struggles on Friday, starting with a delayed read on his first 7-on-7 rep. Tebow short-armed a few throws, had some passes deflected, and forced a couple throws into coverage, one of which was picked off by safety Nate Ebner. What also stood out about Tebow is his ability to break the pocket. His movement skills are unique for the quarterback position, as many know.

* The Patriots unveiled a new drill (at least to me) that simulates open-field tackling (they did not tackle, however). A receiver would be aligned next to a pair of defenders, one of which would follow him as he received a pass, the other of which would retreat and then attempt to tag him in an open-field alley. Tebow was used in this drill, which we wouldn’t take as a definite indication that he’ll be used at a position other than quarterback. Rather, it’s just another opportunity for the team to see him work in space.

* The honor for “play of the day” goes to wide receiver Kamar Aiken for a leaping catch of a Tom Brady throw down the sideline over a defender. Great throw, great catch.

* For those with an interest in the intangibles: Veteran safety Adrian Wilson appears to have asserted himself quickly as a leader, greeting his teammates with high-fives and support as they came to the sideline. Seems that he’ll have an impact off the field as well as on it.

* Will Svitek got some reps on the left side of the line; he could be a capable swing tackle to back up both Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer. Though Dan Connolly was back on the field after offseason shoulder surgery, Marcus Cannon also got some time at right guard

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10 Responses to “Observations from Day 1 (TKS Sage )”

  1. shaztah says:

    And here it starts. I wish the practices could be closed to everyone. The media and so called experts will pick apart everything Tim does. They will focus on his mistakes and overlook everyone else’s. Geez what’s wrong with Tim he should know the offense by now, that is what they will be saying. Who cares if this is his 6th offense in 4 years. (Josh’s, the interim coach’s after Josh, Fox’s traditional, Fox’s modified, The sucky Jet’s and now the Pats) every expert says that NE has one of the most complex offenses in the NFL so it will take time to learn but of course Tim will not get that luxury. How many other QB’s will thrive with 5 different head coaches and 6 different offenses in 4 years? None, consistency and repetition is what Tim needs not being under a microscope. Sorry, I just know that this kind of stuff we will hear all offseason.

    • tawk2 says:

      I agree shaztah, wow is all I can say! I was reading comments on another story about Tim today saying he played horrendous, a couple of comments said that Tim did not play as bad as was being made out, that they were at practice. They also said that Mallet did not have a very good day either, but no one has reported that.

      The media wants Tim to fail so badly so they can be right, so they will only point out any defects and have nothing to say about the good he does as well.

      I keep seeing all these other quarterbacks starters who keep getting passes each year saying they need more experience in their systems etc. I even heard today that RG3 needs 3 or 4 years to get used to his offense. But like you said Tim never gets to be anywhere long and has had so many different offenses in the last several years. Boy what do they expect for Tim to come out and be better than Brady.

      I told my Hubby earlier that I may have to quit watching TV and following all the stories about Tim they make me so upset and yes angry at times.

      What makes me so upset the most is that I know Tim will flourish and be one of the greatest quarterbacks to play in the NFL it he truly gets a chance. But he has to be given a chance to prove himself I just pray that Bellichick is that coach who will do it.

      Today the media had a field day with bashing Tim, so I guess Tim in his own way took the spotlight off Hernadez for the moment. I cannot wait for the day Tim can finally shut up the naysayers and haters, if that is possible.

      You are right I bet today on a lot of NFL teams some quarterbacks had as bad a day as Tim or even worse, but you won’t hear about them, only Tim.

    • jason says:

      Don’t worry about the media, anyone that spends 5 minutes studing belichick knows he doesn’t care of their view points or much of anyone elses when it comes to personell moves and his team.
      Tebow being with the patriots is a big picture, long term move and belichick you can bet is fully aware of tim’s stregnths and weakness and isn’t gonna rush anything. Belichick is a “stay the course” kinda guy.
      All that will matter is what belichick sees in tim from training. So long as tim shows that he’ll improve in the areas he’s been weak at and is an asset wether its for future starter, role player or trade down the road he’ll be just fine. Belichick doesn’t expect tebow to learn the playbook in full in this short time. As far as I know in NFL history only one guy has ever learned the entire playbook of any team from camp till start of the season. Tim happens to be a backup for that guy. That and performance is what kept brady a starter after drew got hurt.
      The media could run 3000 articles a day about tebow sucking and it won’t phase belichick. With belichick is the best place long term tebow could be and all tebow has to do is show he’s got more of the fundamental aspects of the game down, be an asset and continue learning. Its not a short term plan its a long term plan and one that will be best for tim since he has so much of the fundamentals to learn that no one showed him before this past offseason. Its the same reason why it took forever for alex smith to be a true NFL level QB. People can celebrate what meyers does and has done but onething for certain is that does zero to develope a NFL ready QB.
      Please don’t worry about anything the media says either against or for tebow because it will never have a thing to do with what belichick does. With how tebow works and now that he has it through his head about the way things have to be done he’ll be fine and little is to doudt but its a long term thing. After we get some preseason tape we’ll get to see how his skills have refined. Coaches tape doesn’t lie, its as close to science as gravity, the sun rise and so on. If tim has stepped up the fundamentals you’ll even hear the experts point out such things, not the media 1st people but the experts.

  2. shaztah says:

    I think this speaks VOLUMES!!!

    http://youtu.be/pcoJvuw_8s8

    • ck says:

      Shaztah: Thank you for posting that and you are totally correct: “SPEAKS VOLUMES!” I am now a HUGE FAN OF MR. KRAFTS AND WILL SUPPORT HIS ENDEAVORS B/C OF HOW HE TREATS OUR FAVORITE!!! GOD BLESS THE PATRIOTS AND MR. KRAFT/OWNER IS THE BEST!!! STATED WISELY: “SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE…” HOPE ONLY THE BEST FOR T2 AND GLAD HE IS SUPPORTED IN HIS PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE!!!
      BROUGHT TEARS TO MY EYES B/C EVERYTHING HE SAID WAS THE TRUTH!!!
      NICE TO KNOW THERE ARE STILL SOME INDIVIDUALS REMAINING IN HIGH PLACES THAT ONE CAN LOOK UP TO AS EXAMPLES!!!
      GBPT2/PATRIOTS/KRAFT!!!

      • jason says:

        Spot on ck. Kraft has been the reason because of the way he set years ago when he bought the team that the patriots went from a joke to what they are. He was actually a life long fan of the patriots and season ticket holder. So long as tim improves and is of value to the team he’ll have a spot. That could mean a trade in a few years or oneday replace brady when he retires but he has always looked out for the best for his players. Its why I respect the patriots, steelers and other teams that are the best in the league in how they do things. Its what sevreal franchises need to learn from and the NFL would produce an even better product.

  3. shaztah says:

    Here is a tidbit from the Pat’s site.

    –Mallett didn’t have the best of days. He seemed to throw a lot of balls either on the back shoulder of his targets or all together behind them. This accuracy and timing is the biggest factor that will decide whether he can develop into a competitive NFL passer. Entering his third season, it’s still very much in question.

    So where are the headlines on his crappy practice? Maybe that is why they brought Tim in, they knew Mallett is not their future.

    • tawk2 says:

      Thanks shaztah, just like last year when Sanchez was doing bad in practice and it was not addressed that much in the media, only Tebow.

      I guess that’s how it will be. Hopefully you are on to something about Tim being there to eventually replace Mallet as the back up.

  4. Bubbaelvis says:

    This is what Tebow always gets and probably always will even if he wins several Superbowls. I was watching NFL inside training camp and saw Tony Romo throw a 10-12 yard pass to a back ( in a simple drill ) at the back’s feet. It was a completely terrible throw but we haven’t heard what a horrible practice he had. It is practice and the purpose is to get better an get ready for the reason. Maybe Tim had a bad practice but listening to him in his interview he understands the goal is to get better and he was very positive about his first day. I trust the Patriots staff and believe they will give him a fair chance. They won’t be swayed by the media.

    • Sage says:

      So true. As I recall, that happens a couple of times in every NFL game, too. People forget it. The human mind is a raging bias machine.

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