FOXBOROUGH – The pads finally came on Saturday for the first time in the Patriots’ 2014 training camp, the intensity picked up, and Darrelle Revis came to play.
Day 3 is in the books, and Revis, the Patriots’ new star cornerback, was the star of the show, intercepting Tom Brady twice in team drills to the delight of the 13,819 fans in attendance.
Bill Belichick integrated full contact slowly on Saturday, the first time the Patriots could hit each other after 10 weeks of non-contact workouts in the offseason and two days of non-contact practice in camp. The Patriots didn’t hit each other much for the first 90 minutes of practice, but by the end of the session we had our first look at the OL-DL drills, the inside running game and WR-CB battles at the line of scrimmage.
The weather was perfect on Saturday – mid-70s, partly cloudy – and there didn’t appear to be any significant injuries. The cornerbacks got the better of the receivers, especially Revis and Logan Ryan. The practice also ended on a touching note, with the entire team – including Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft – singing happy birthday to 6-year-old Foxborough resident Danny Nickerson, currently battling cancer.
With that, here is the practice report for Day 3 of camp:
Physically unable to perform: WR Aaron Dobson, CB Alfonzo Dennard, WR Jeremy Gallon, WR Matthew Slater.
Removed from PUP: DT Tommy Kelly (practiced without pads)
Non-football injury: DL Dominique Easley, OL Chris Martin, LB Deontae Skinner.
Missing: WR Greg Orton (leg), S Jamea Thomas, CB Daxton Swanson
Non-contact: TE Rob Gronkowski, DT Tommy Kelly
There did not appear to be any significant injuries on Saturday.
Full pads, full contact.
■ WR Julian Edelman drew a big cheer by burning CB Kyle Arrington on a deep post down the middle for a long touchdown from Tom Brady.
■ WR Danny Amendola made an incredible one-handed diving catch on a pass down the left seam from Garoppolo, also with Arrington in coverage.
■ CB Logan Ryan had two really nice diving pass break-ups on Amendola in full-team drills.
■ CB Malcolm Butler did a great job out-jumping WR Brandon LaFell and intercepting a deep fade from Garoppolo.
■ Revis: In addition to intercepting Brady twice, he also had a fantastic pass break-up on a deep sideline pass to LaFell.
■ Ryan: Looks like the best cornerback on the field not named Revis. Had an interception and two nice pass breakups in team drills and had great battles with Edelman.
■ RB James White: Rookie fourth-round pick showed great burst on his outside runs, and got a ton of work on Saturday along with Stevan Ridley.
■ Garoppolo: Another rough day for the rookie second-round pick. He threw interceptions to Butler, Ryan, and Tavon Wilson and now has five interceptions through three days of camp. He also fumbled a snap for the second day in a row, and he and C Bryan Stork were forced to run a lap around the practice field.
■ RB Brandon Bolden: Barely got any action in team drills on Saturday, losing reps to White, Stephen Houston and Jonas Gray, and is in serious danger of losing his roster spot.
■ WR Kenbrell Thompkins: Had a couple of bad drops on Saturday, including one in a drill with no defense. Thompkins doesn’t have special teams value, meaning he better be perfect in drills if he wants to make the team.
Gronkowski’s routine seems pretty obvious at this point. He participates in individual drills and warm-ups with his teammates, does a lot of 1-on-1 work with Brady during special teams drills, and then takes mental reps during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Gronk doesn’t necessarily look like someone coming off knee surgery – he runs and moves pretty well so far. But the Patriots are obviously being very cautious with him.
Odds and ends
■ Saturday was the first day of OL-DL drills. One player who definitely stood out was second-year G Josh Kline, who was not beaten once in the two periods of drills. LB Dont’a Hightower also beat both tackles, Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder, on separate occasions. Vollmer also struggled against DE Rob Ninkovich and looks like he needs to get his speed back after coming off a broken leg.
■ Interesting to see Revis lining up on kickoff and field goal drills, and also being used as the placeholder on windy kickoffs.
■ S Duron Harmon looks like the leader in the clubhouse for the strong safety job, but Wilson is getting every opportunity to prove himself, and Patrick Chung gets a few chances as well. Harmon and Wilson each had an interception on Saturday.
■ Counted seven interceptions by the defense – two against Brady (both by Revis), two against Mallett and three against Garoppolo.
■ Amendola and Edelman look really sharp in the first few days of camp. They get their fair share of victories against Revis and Brandon Browner.
■ The linebackers are going to be interchangeable, but for now it looks like Jerod Mayo is the starter in the middle, Jamie Collins is on the weak side and Hightower on the strong side.
■ Brady’s most animated celebration on Saturday came when FB James Develin made a great lead block for Ridley on a goal line running drill. Develin looks like a good bet to make the team again this year – during certain special teams drills he worked off to the side with Brady, Gronk and the veteran receivers.
■ At one point, the three quarterbacks did lob/fade drills in the back of the end zone. Hate to say it, but Brady shows the worst touch of the three quarterbacks. Ryan Mallett actually did a nice job of putting the ball on the right spot.
■ DE Will Smith, looking to keep his career going in New England, didn’t have much in pass rushing drills, and got stonewalled by Marcus Cannon.
■ Undrafted rookie TE Justin Jones is a little stiff in the hips but shows great hands, and had a great catch on Saturday on a ball thrown way behind him by Garoppolo.
Sunday: Practice (full pads), 9:15 a.m.
Follow Ben Volin on Twitter at @BenVolin.