FOXBORO, Mass. — Much of the hype in the first week of training camp has been surrounding the rookie wide receivers like Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce. And while those players have been impressive, Danny Amendola has outshined them all.
It’s almost as if it was expected that Amendola would come in and dominate camp after showing so well in OTAs and minicamp, but if anything, he’s surpassed his already lofty expectations. It’s not easy for a player to come in and replace Wes Welker, but Amendola has been catching everything thrown his way and made spectacular catches look easy.
Amendola is diving all over the field, showing off quick-twitch agility in his routes and even gaining separation downfield. He and Tom Brady really seem to be on the same page and he’s always a part of the first-team unit. The other wide receiver in the first-team unit was constantly changing Tuesday with Dobson on the field in sweats, but not participating. Boyce, Thompkins and Michael Jenkins were taking the bulk of the first team reps.
Along with Dobson, Rob Gronkowski, Mark Harrison, Cory Grissom and Julian Edelman were spotted in sweats not participating. Nick McDonald, Elvis Fisher and Brandon Bolden were not spotted. Devin McCourty was still rocking the red non-contact jersey and Dan Connolly was limited.
-Outside of Amendola, Thompkins had another very strong day of camp. He caught a deep ball over Logan Ryan and McCourty from Brady and spiked the ball after he came down in the end zone. Boyce had a drop or two, but came away looking good after taking a bunch of reps with the first team in all three wide receiver positions. Boyce may be the best pure route-runner of the young group at wideout. Much of that is due to his agility. Quentin Sims made a nice one-handed grab over Ryan in 1-on-1s.
-We were talking in the media tent about how we hadn’t seen Zach Sudfeld drop a pass yet, then had two drops as practice progressed. Either we jinxed the rookie tight end, or we had missed them before. Sudfeld finished off practice with a touchdown over Adrian Wilson. Sudfeld’s had a very strong camp. It would be downright shocking if he didn’t make the 53-man roster.
-Tyronne Green was getting reps with the first team at right guard. There may not be a lot to look into that. Connolly is hurt and Marcus Cannon was playing some tackle. Cannon has had a very strong camp.
-Harrison was off on the far field jogging with Edelman, Grissom and Connolly. That’s a good sign for all those players, but especially Harrison, who has yet to show anything, starting the year on the PUP list. Harrison has great size and athleticism and his Rutgers pedigree won’t hurt inside the walls of Gillette Stadium.
-Ras-I Dowling has his best day of camp so far. He was shutting down Michael Jenkins in 1-on-1s. The cornerbacks have all had their time to shine. It was Aqib Talib on Monday, Kyle Arrington Sunday and Alfonzo Dennard Saturday. Dowling has tremendous upside, but he just has to stay healthy and put it all together.
-Marcus Forston has benefitted heavily from Armond Armstead‘s time on the NFI list and Grissom’s injury. He’s been spending time with the first-team offense when Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly come out. That leaves Joe Vellano and Anthony Reshad White with the third team going up against TIm Tebow.
-Marcus Benard continues to put up solid practice after solid practice. He didn’t look stellar dropping into coverage, but that’s not his role. He came around the edge and beat Sudfeld to almost get to the quarterback. He also beat Markus Zusevics in 1-on-1s.
-Jamie Collins was playing some middle linebacker on the second team. Linebackers coach Pepper Johnson talked about how well he’s fitting into the defense and how quickly he’s picking the game up. Collins has played all over the place from the middle to defensive end to outside linebacker in a 3-4. He could be a moving piece that can fill in for any number of players along the front seven.
-Practice ended with a dustup between Stevan Ridley and Kyle Arrington. Ridley got stopped and chucked the football at Arrington, and the brouhaha began. As Ridley said, “That’s camp, man.”