With Tom Brady taking part, Patriots go through the motions

This pass slipped away from  Patriots running back Shane Vereen during Thursday’s low-key practice. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Stew Milne/Associated Press
This pass slipped away from Patriots running back Shane Vereen during Thursday’s low-key practice.

FOXBOROUGH — The big news of the day, of course, was that Tom Brady returned to practice a day after suffering a minor sprain in his left knee and putting Patriots fans in panic mode. Brady wore a brace on his knee — he wasn’t wearing it Wednesday — and participated fully in practice.

The practice itself, though, wasn’t very exciting. It was a walkthrough type in advance of Friday night's preseason game, with many drills done at half-speed.

The Patriots and Buccaneers also practiced a lot of situations — onside kicks, punts backed up against the end zone, tight red-zone drills, and more.


Other than Brady returning, Thursday’s practice was a bit of a snoozer.

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With that, let’s get on with the report:


Physically unable to perform: TE Rob Gronkowski (back); WR Mark Harrison (foot); DE Armond Armstead (non-football illness).

Red non-contact jersey: S Devin McCourty.

Not participating: TE Daniel Fells, CB Alfonzo Dennard (limited), OL Marcus Cannon (limited), WR Michael Jenkins (limited), CB Ras-I Dowling (limited), OL Dan Connolly (limited), and DE Jermaine Cunningham.


Injured reserve: OL Tyronne Green.

Waived: WR Michael Jenkins, OL Kevin Haslam.

Returning to practice: DB Nate Ebner.


Shells, no contact.


  Brady walked on the field and got a loud round of applause from the fans. This was the most important thing to happen at practice.


  Brady had an amazing lob to WR Danny Amendola in the right corner of the end zone. Amendola caught it over two defenders with his feet just inbounds.

  Brady had another perfect corner fade to WR Aaron Dobson, who caught it over Bucs CB Leonard Johnson.

  P Ryan Allen booted one that came to rest millimeters from the right sideline. Impressive.


S Duron Harmon: Rookie third-rounder has been impressing in camp and took a lot of first-team reps this week. Don’t be surprised if he starts in McCourty’s place Friday.

DB Nate Ebner: Finally returned to practice after sitting out a couple of weeks, and now can focus on winning another special teams spot.

Eduardo Martinez: This youngster got to participate in a Make-A-Wish type of event. He took a handoff from Brady and ran into the end zone to end practice, then threw with Tim Tebow for 10 minutes afterward.


QB Ryan Mallett: Doesn’t look as if he’ll be getting as much playing time Friday now that Brady is back.

TE Daniel Fells: Missed his second straight practice, and may be losing a grip on a starting spot to Zach Sudfeld and Jake Ballard.

DT Marcus Forston: Appears to be the primary backup at defensive tackle.


Tebow took a handful of snaps in team drills and skipped a couple of throws. The most interesting thing he did in practice was play on the onside-kick recovery team for three snaps. In addition to throwing with Martinez, he stayed after to sign autographs.


  This was the last practice of camp open to fans and media.

  The roster is down to 87 players after Thursday’s moves. The cutdown to 75 players is Aug. 27, and the cutdown to 53 is Aug. 31.


Friday: Preseason Game No. 2 vs. Buccaneers, 8 p.m.

Saturday: TBD.

Ben Volin can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin