FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots opened their 2013 training camp with a 2½-hour practice in a driving rainstorm on Friday morning, and the session was predictably sloppy, with several drops by the inexperienced receiver group and a handful of interceptions from the backup quarterbacks, Ryan Mallett and Tim Tebow.
It’s nothing to panic over yet — the defense is almost always ahead of the offense early in training camp. Friday was about establishing a baseline for the rest of camp, and establishing a rapport between Tom Brady and his new receivers.
There were no surprises in terms of players who weren’t available to practice, and cornerback Alfonzo Dennard seemingly isn’t being punished for his recent DUI arrest, at least as it pertains to the depth chart.
Here’s a rundown of what went on at Patriots practice this afternoon:
Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Julian Edelman (foot); WR Mark Harrison (foot); OL Nick McDonald (undisclosed); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness)
Red jersey: S Devin McCourty
Not participating: WR Kenbrell Thompkins (unknown)
The Patriots appeared to emerge from the first day of practice with no new injuries.
■ DE Chandler Jones made an acrobatic diving interception of a screen pass from Tebow.
■ Mallett perfectly finessed a pass to TE Zach Sudfeld deep down the left seam over two defenders.
■ WR Kamar Aiken made a beautiful diving catch over Dennard down the right sideline on a pass from Brady. He also made a great catch over Logan Ryan deep down the right sideline in 11-on-11 drills.
■ LB Jamie Collins had an athletic breakup of a pass from Mallett to Michael Hoomanawanui.
■ Danny Amendola brought the crowd to its feet with a great diving catch of a Brady pass during 11-on-11 drills.
Aiken: Worked with the starting unit most of the day and made several acrobatic catches.
Collins: Second-round pick already is getting acclimated quickly and taking reps with the first-team defense at linebacker.
CB Kyle Arrington: Got a lot of work with the starting defense and the nickel package as the team prepares to lose Dennard to an early-season suspension.
Mallett: Inconsistent day for the backup, who mixed some nice throws in with a few baffling ones. Was heard yelling at himself after a couple of poor throws.
WR Michael Jenkins: Didn’t get much work with the top unit and appears to be behind Aiken and Aaron Dobson on the depth chart.
Ryan: Allowed several acrobatic catches to be completed over him, including a really nice diving grab by Aiken.
Tebow was the clear third-string QB. He was third to take repetitions in drills — behind Brady and Mallett — and often took fewer repetitions than both.
In 11-on-11 drills, Tebow finished 6 for 10 on 14 reps, including two interceptions (by safety Nate Ebner and DE Chandler Jones). The Jones pickoff came on a screen pass.
Tebow also lined up as a receiver for two separate drills, catching all three balls thrown to him.
ODDS AND ENDS
■ Quarterback stats in team drills:
Brady: 11 for 14 overall with no touchdowns. Should’ve had an interception on a throw to Dobson, but it was dropped by Arrington and McCourty.
Mallett: 6 for 7 overall with no touchdowns and a couple of scrambles. Threw a nice deep post to Dobson.
Tebow: 6 for 10 overall with a scramble, a batted pass, and two interceptions. Four of his completions were checkdowns.
■ Hard not to notice that Brady took a ton of reps with Amendola, Dobson, and Aiken, who appear to be the top receiver unit to start camp. Jenkins and Matthew Slater appear to be in the next group. Thompkins, a rookie who impressed during the offseason program, was in uniform on Friday but did not participate in practice.
■ The tight ends appeared to be in two groups — Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard, and Michael Hoomanawanui (H-back) in the first group, and rookies Sudfeld and Brandon Ford in the second group. The Patriots still ran some two tight-end sets despite not having Gronkowski or Aaron Hernandez.
■ Both Dennard and Arrington worked inside and outside with the first unit, opposite Aqib Talib. Marquice Cole, Ryan, and Ras-I Dowling worked with the second unit. McCourty was strictly a safety on Friday, and Steve Gregory subbed in a few times for Adrian Wilson.
■ Collins may be labeled as a pass-rusher, but he worked as a linebacker and will likely be used in a variety of roles this season. He also played on the kickoff unit.
■ Kickoff returners: Leon Washington, Slater, LeGarrette Blount, Josh Boyce, Stevan Ridley, Lavelle Hawkins.
■ Marcus Cannon worked with the first offensive line unit a bit at right guard (L to R): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer. Dan Connolly also worked with the first team. The second unit was (L to R): Elvis Fisher, Tyronne Green, Josh Kline, Markus Zusevics, Kevin Haslam.
Saturday’s practice: 9-11:30 a.m.
Sunday’s practice: 9-11:30 a.m.
Monday’s practice (in stadium, season ticket-holders only): 6:30-8:30 p.m.Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin