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Sunday’s Patriots practice report: Eric Decker’s struggles continue

Eric Decker was able to hang onto this pass, but dropped several others.
Eric Decker was able to hang onto this pass, but dropped several others.(Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)

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ATTENDANCE PLEASE:

RB Rex Burkhead, who left the main field midway through Wednesday’s practice and missed Thursday’s exhibition opener against Washington, was absent Sunday. Also not spotted during the rainy mid-afternoon session were RB Sony Michel, LB Harvey Langi, and OT Marcus Cannon.

S Nate Ebner, and CBs Jonathan Jones and Cyrus Jones, who all began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, began practice on the lower practice field for conditioning work before sitting out the rest of the way.

WR Matthew Slater, CB Ryan Lewis, OL Jason King, P Ryan Allen, and DL Trey Flowers were limited participants on Sunday and also spent time on the lower practice field.

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NEW INJURIES: None

DRESS CODE: Full pads

THREE UP

Devin Lucien: The young wide receiver snared two wobbly deep balls from QB Danny Etling, including a toe-tapper seemingly destined to land out of bounds.

Ja’Whaun Bentley: The rookie linebacker received limited reps with the top defensive unit, lining up alongside Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy. Bentley played 53 percent of snaps in Thursday’s win over Washington, tied for fourth-most on the defense.

Kenny Britt: Still recovering from a hamstring injury, Britt looked strong in 1-on-1 work, lining up to Tom Brady’s left and showing no ill effects running downfield.

THREE DOWN

Eric Decker: Quarterbacks did side work with receivers Decker, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and Rob Gronkowski. Decker’s struggles continued as he dropped a few catchable passes on short out routes.

Kyle Van Noy: The linebacker looked almost disinterested on one deep ball during 11-on-11s where Brady hit Edelman down the seam. Van Noy’s back was turned to the ball as Edelman made an acrobatic catch.

Ulrick John: Grinding in slippery trenches can be tough on linemen. John committed the ultimate sin — jumping offsides — and had to run a lap for his blunder.

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UNOFFICIALLY SPEAKING

Brady shouldered a larger workload than he had in recent weeks, completing 17-of-22 passes in 11-on-11s. Backup Brian Hoyer finished 13 for 21 but struggled in limited action. Rookie Danny Etling had issues with his footing on the sloppy turf and went 2 for 4.

RECEIVERS RACE

Lucien and Braxton Berrios both impressed in 1-on-1s against defensive backs, as well as during 11-on-11s. First-year Patriot Cordarrelle Patterson continued to present exciting flashes of athleticism, speeding through blockers on kickoff return drills and leaping for a few over-the-head grabs.

TOP PLAYS

■  A few different defensive backs lost their footing during 1-on-1s after impressive moves by WRs. Rookie CB Duke Dawson landed on his behind after Edelman cut to the inside on a slant, and CB Jamal Wiltz suffered a similar fate after being dusted by WR Chris Hogan.

■  In addition to a nonchalant one-handed snag during side work, Gronkowski made a nice over-the-middle catch in traffic with Hightower draped all over him. Brady delivered a seamlessly placed ball.

Rob Gronkowski made this one-handed grab look easy.
Rob Gronkowski made this one-handed grab look easy.(Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff)

■  CB Jason McCourty did well to break up a Hoyer pass on a slant pattern run by Patterson near the end of 11-on-11s.

■  Berrios made a stellar diving grab on a deep pass from Hoyer. The rookie laid out to extend past Jordan Richards and Dawson.

■  WR Riley McCarron made a nice one-handed catch on a Hoyer pass that was thrown behind him.

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■  Jonathan Jones jumped a route during Brady’s portion of 11-on-11s but the sure interception slipped through his fingers.

ODDS AND ENDS

■  Rookie OL Isaiah Wynn received a little work with the first-team offense, taking limited reps at right tackle.

■  TE Dwayne Allen and DB Jordan Richards spoke with members from the University of Rhode Island football team who were in attendance.

Dwayne Allen address some Univerity of Rhode Island players who were on hand for Sunday’s workout.
Dwayne Allen address some Univerity of Rhode Island players who were on hand for Sunday’s workout.(Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe)

■  OL Brian Schwenke returned to practice.

■  RBs Jeremy Hill and Mike Gillislee carried the brunt of the backfield duties, each taking eight handoffs in 11-on-11s.

■  Attendance was sparser than usual due to the inclement weather.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Monday: Practice, 9:15 a.m.

Tuesday: Practice, 1:00 p.m.

Wednesday: Team Walkthrough

Thursday: Exhibition game vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 7:30 p.m.


Owen Pence can be reached at owen.pence@globe.com.