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Ben Volin | Practice Report

Bill Belichick takes it easy on Patriots Thursday

Attendance, please

Physically unable to perform: WR Aaron Dobson, WR Jeremy Gallon.

Non-football injury: DL Dominique Easley, OL Chris Martin, LB Deontae Skinner.

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Returned to practice: WR Matthew Slater (limited), WR Josh Boyce (limited), LB Chris White.

Missing: TE Michael Hoomanawanui, C Bryan Stork, S Jamea Thomas.

Limited/Non-contact: TE Rob Gronkowski, CB Alfonzo Dennard.

New Injuries: The Patriots did not appear to suffer any significant injuries on Thursday.

Dress code: Full pads and full contact.

Top plays

 On a goal line running play, Rob Ninkovich, Vince Wilfork, Chandler Jones and Devin McCourty all blew up the right side of the Patriots’ offensive line – Marcus Cannon, Sebastian Vollmer and Josh Kline – and body-slammed Stevan Ridley for negative yardage. The hit pumped up the entire defense and had the players chanting, “Hell no, we won’t go!”

 In an 11-on-11 drill with the offense backed up to its own goal line, Brady threw a pass over the middle to Kenbrell Thompkins, but Darrelle Revis jumped the route for an interception and an easy touchdown. It was Revis’s third interception of Brady in seven practices.

 Also in 11-on-11 drills, RB James White showed an impressive burst coming around the right edge and broke off a huge gain. But Revis never gave up on the play, chased White all the way, and brought him down with a ferocious tomahawk chop, although White did a good job of securing the football.

 RB Shane Vereen made an awesome catch out of the backfield in 1-on-1 drills, getting open on an out-and-up route and then out-jumping Dont’a Hightower for a 25-plus yard catch.

Three up

 G Marcus Cannon: Has been getting a lot of work at right guard the last two days, especially with Dan Connolly working at center in Stork’s absence. Cannon has a chance to finally win a Week 1 starting job.

 TE Justin Jones: Huge target is getting a ton of work this week with Gronkowski and Hoomanawanui not working in team drills. Had a great touchdown catch on Thursday in which he held on despite getting popped by a defender, and also looked good mauling the linebackers and chipping defensive ends in run-blocking drills.

 WR Julian Edelman: Has been the most consistent receiver at camp by far, and has had great battles with Revis every day.

Three down

 QB Jimmy Garoppolo: Maybe we’re being unfair or having impossibly high standards, because no one should expect Garoppolo to look like a seasoned pro given his jump from the FCS to the NFL. Still, Garoppolo looks very hesitant in the pocket, and threw a pick-six to CB Malcolm Butler on Thursday.

 TE Asa Watson: Ben Watson’s younger brother is clearly running last on the depth chart behind DJ Williams and Jones, and looks to be a practice squad player at best.

 RB Roy Finch: Undrafted rookie has speed to burn, but drew the ire of the coaching staff on Thursday when he failed to fair catch a punt and let it bounce off the turf and roll an extra 15 yards.

Gronk watch

Gronk suits up. Gronk catches passes from Brady with Revis providing half-speed coverage. Gronk sits out all contact drills. Rinse and repeat.

Odds and ends

 Garoppolo’s biggest issue is his comfort in the pocket and adjusting to the speed of the NFL. He has really struggled to find the open receivers in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills – he went 0 for 4 in one drill Thursday, and none of his passes were close to being completed — and he has that deer-in-the-headlights look when scanning the field. But it’s not all negative — the quarterbacks practiced one drill in which they rolled out to their left and threw deep across their body, and Garoppolo was by far the most accurate of the three.

 Another great day of practice for White, who looks more and more like he’s going to be an immediate impact player, even with Ridley and Vereen still in the mix. White looks like a very decisive runner who hits the hole hard, and he is proficient in pass protection.

 Vereen has been a little inconsistent catching wheel routes and fades out of the backfield, but Thursday was the second day in a row in which he caught everything thrown his way. He had another impressive catch on a throw from Ryan Mallett.

 In the doghouse: OL Jordan Devey had to jog a penalty lap around the field for a false start, and WR Wilson Van Hooser dropped an easy touchdown over the middle from Mallett.

 Second-year DE Michael Buchanan almost decapitated Garoppolo on one play. Buchanan got right around fourth-round pick Cameron Fleming with a swim move and accidentally popped Garoppolo right before he threw the football.

 LB Steve Beauharnais, last year’s seventh-round pick, did well in pass coverage drills on Thursday, knocking passes away from Vereen and White out of the backfield. Beauharnais could be a good option to backup James Anderson as a coverage linebacker and special teams contributor.

 Funny to see Brandon Browner clutching Brandon LaFell’s jersey as the receiver ran past him on a fly route (the pass was ultimately too far). With the NFL putting an even greater emphasis on eliminating defensive holding, Browner needs to be careful this year.

Upcoming schedule

Friday: Ty Law Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony, 4:30 p.m.; practice inside Gillette Stadium for season ticket-holders, 7 p.m.

Saturday: Off day

Sunday: Travel to Richmond for joint practices with the Redskins.

Monday: Practice in Richmond, 8:45 a.m.

Tuesday: Practice in Richmond, 1:35 p.m.

Wednesday: Practice in Richmond, 8:45 a.m.

Thursday: Preseason game No. 1 at Washington, 7:30 p.m.

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