FOXBOROUGH — The Patriots returned to the practice field Monday, but it was more of a low-key, walk-through type of environment instead of a full-bore practice. The Patriots will have a physical couple of days of practice with the Buccaneers Tuesday and Wednesday, plus another game Friday, so Bill Belichick spent most of Monday’s practice cleaning up a few trouble areas from Friday night and working on a handful of situations — specifically Red Zone and two-minute drills. There were no real surprises or shake-ups with injuries or the lineup, although a few players appear closer to returning to the field. Here is the practice report:
Physically unable to perform: Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).
Red non-contact jersey: S Devin McCourty.
Missing: CB Alfonzo Dennard, OL Marcus Cannon, WR Michael Jenkins, CB Ras-I Dowling, OL Dan Connolly, DB Nate Ebner, OL Tyronne Green, OL Kevin Haslam, and DE Jermaine Cunningham. Dennard, Jenkins, Dowling, and Connolly participated briefly in individual drills, but sat out 90 percent of practice.
Roster moves: TE Brandon Ford, waived/injured (will revert to IR if he clears waivers); CB LeQuan Lewis signed.
Shells, no contact.
■ QB Ryan Mallett threw a beautiful seam pass to TE Zach Sudfeld, who made the 20-yard catch in tight double coverage.
■ WR Quentin Sims made a really nice jumping catch on the sideline on a deep fade from Tim Tebow in 11-on-11 drills.
■ CB Aqib Talib made an excellent leaping breakup of a lob pass from Mallett to TE Daniel Fells in the end zone.
WR Josh Boyce: Appears to be getting more and more work with the first team-offense, along with Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins, and may have surpassed Julian Edelman as the No. 4 receiver.
DL Marcus Benard: Continues to get a lot of work with the first unit on defense at both end and tackle, similar to the role Jermaine Cunningham played last year.
G Will Svitek: Had a nice game Friday against the Eagles, and with Cannon and Connolly still banged up, ultimately may be the starting right guard on opening day.
DL Justin Francis: Not that he’s playing poorly, per se, but it appears that he has been leapfrogged by Benard in the rotation.
Edelman: As we mentioned, he’s not working that much with the first-team offense and appears to be used mostly as Danny Amendola’s backup in the slot for now.
S Tavon Wilson: Working almost exclusively with the scout-team defense, which is not what you want to see out of last year’s second-round pick.
Tebow participated in the ball-security drill again, but otherwise spent the day running the third-team offense, as usual. He had one pass batted down at the line of scrimmage in 11-on-11 drills and completed just 4 of 10 passes in the two-minute drill, but he did have a nice deep throw to Sims down the left sideline, threw a nice slant pass to TE Michael Hoomanawanui for a touchdown, and had one good ball dropped by WR Kamar Aiken. Toward the end of practice, Tebow was picked off by CB Brandon Jones on a throw well behind Sims, but Tebow made up for it by dropping a deep pass perfectly into Sims’s arms on the next play.
ODDS AND ENDS
■ In the hurry-up offense, Tom Brady completed 8 of 8 passes as the Patriots moved down the field, including four to Amendola, two to Boyce, and one each to TEs Jake Ballard and Fells. K Stephen Gostkowski drilled a 52-yard field goal in a hurry-up situation.
■ Ballard continues to get looks with the first-team offense, but the Patriots don’t use him as much as the other three tight ends in practice as he continues to come back from a knee injury.
■ The Patriots worked a lot on their Jumbo package — using three and four tight ends — and practiced both their runs and their play-action passes out of the formation.
■ Connolly did rotate in with the first unit at right guard during the very early portion of practice.
■ McCourty took a couple of reps at cornerback, possibly just to keep him sharp in case the Patriots need him this year.
■ Anyone within a mile of Gillette Stadium could hear Brady yell at himself when he overthrew Amendola on a fade pass in the corner of the end zone.
■ Thompkins isn’t perfect, after all. He had a bad drop on a wide-open pass from Brady.
■ DE Chandler Jones worked a little bit on rushing the passer out of a two-point stance, which would be new to him this year.
Tuesday: Joint practice with Buccaneers, 2 p.m.
Wednesday: Joint practice with Buccaneers, 2 p.m.
Thursday: Joint practice with Buccaneers (walk-through), 2 p.m.
Friday: Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Buccaneers, 8 p.m.Ben Volin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin