Alfonzo Dennard Comes Away As Big Winner on Defense During Patriots Training Camp Practice (Notes)

Alfonzo DennardFOXBORO, Mass. – Alfonzo Dennard has had another tumultuous offseason, but it doesn’t appear to be affecting the second-year cornerback on the field.

Dennard was the star of the second day of Patriots training camp practice, coming away with an interception over Josh Boyce and a pass breakup over Aaron Dobson. Dennard was playing outside and inside on the first team. He was mostly working in the nickel Friday but took extensive snaps in the base defense Saturday.

Dennard had a big rookie season, taking over the starting role in Week 7. But the team also signed Kyle Arrington to a big contract over the summer, so it wasn’t a big surprise to see the veteran cornerback taking a lot of reps in the first week of practice.

Dennard told the media Friday he was just concentrating on football, not his off-field issues. That was apparent when Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett were having trouble completing passes against him.

-Mark Harrison, Nick McDonald and Rob Gronkowski were spotted in sweats on the sideline. Julian Edelman, Cory Grissom and Armond Armstead were not spotted at all. Devin McCourty practiced, but was wearing a non-contact red jersey. Kenbrell Thompkins was back on the field fully participating. Kanorris Davis left the field at one point with trainers. He spent time in the bubble Friday.

DEFENSE

-The team was showing looks in the 4-3 and 3-4 Saturday. It would not be surprising if the team ran its defense out of a 3-4 base more often this season since players like Marcus Benard, Rob Ninkovich and Jamie Collins are best suited as 3-4 outside linebackers. Dont’a Hightower could play either inside or outside in a 3-4.

-Jermaine Cunningham is another player who could play a versatile role in a 3-4, playing standing up or with his hand down.

-McCourty picked off Brady on a pass that bounced off Jake Ballard‘s hands. Brady had a vocal outburst after the play, his first of the spring or summer.

-The undrafted rookie cornerbacks look good. Stephon Morris and Justin Green are small, but fast and shifty. Marquice Cole was moving all over the secondary.

OFFENSE

Tim Tebow had a tough go of it again Saturday. The crowd was cheering his every completion, but quickly grew tired of his hesitation in seven-on-sevens. They even started chanting “BRA-DY, BRA-DY, BRA-DY” at one point.

It been said over the years that Tebow is far better in games than he is at practice. That’s rearing its ugly head in Foxboro, and he grounds passes to wideouts and takes far too long in the pocket. At one point, no one had a stopwatch on it, but he appeared to take 10 seconds to get the ball out of his hand.

-Danny Amendola is another crowd favorite. As long as he stays healthy, he should have a big season with Brady. He did fumble a punt return during practice, though. Boyce, Hawkins and Leon Washington were also back returning punts.

-Marcus Cannon was taking a lot of reps at right guard for the second day in a row. Dan Connolly was spotted doing some side sprints with McDonald, so he may not be fully healthy.

-Thompkins didn’t miss a beat coming back on the field Saturday. He, Dobson, Boyce and Kamar Aiken continue to impress. The wide receiver group looks a lot more solid than I expected. Quinton Sims has made some drops, though.

-Boyce made a nice, but lucky, snag off the hands of Tavon Wilson on a Mallett throw. Wilson was mad at himself for not taking in the grab.

-Tebow was in on running back fumble drills, while Brady and Mallett were not.

-Dobson appears to be adjusting well and is taking first-team reps. He made a spectacular grab down the sidelines over Aqib Talib on a pass from Brady.

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