Josh Boyce’s Precise Footwork, Route Running Stand Out in Patriots Training Camp Practice (Notes)

Josh Boyce, Stephon MorrisFOXBORO, Mass. — While Friday and Saturday were Aaron Dobson‘s time to shine, Josh Boyce stole the spotlight at wide receiver Sunday.

The rookie wideout showed off his precise footwork and route-running skills and even took some first-team reps. Boyce also shined in one-on-one drills against the cornerbacks. He was going against undrafted rookie Stephon Morris, but he was still beating his man at the line.

Boyce also beat Logan Ryan twice down the field. One of the catches he made was a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch down the sidelines. Boyce could likely play all three wide receiver positions (X, slot and Z) due to his size, speed and agility. The battle for the starting spot opposite Danny Amendola will likely linger through training camp. At this point, though, Boyce, Dobson and even Kamar Aiken are looking impressive.

Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Nick McDonald were spotted in sweats, but did not participate. Armond Armstead, Cory Grissom and Mark Harrison were not spotted. Devin McCourty wore a red non-contact jersey and Dan Connolly was limited.

OFFENSE

-Michael Jenkins impressed in blocking/press drills. He has a nice wiggle at the line of scrimmage. He did drop three passes today, though. Aiken also was impressive in that drill. Dobson struggled to get past Ras-I Dowling.

-It’s obvious Zach Sudfeld has a hop in his step compared to the older tight ends, Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui. That speed and quickness should guarantee him a roster spot if Gronkowski isn’t back by Week 1. Brandon Ford has had some bad drops so far in training camp.

-Kenbrell Thompkins is a nice steady presence at wide receiver. He caught a nice diving pass and got a touchdown on the last pass of practice from Tim Tebow. There will be a real battle for the sixth wide receiver spot after Amendola, Dobson, Boyce, Edelman and Matthew Slater. So far, it’s coming down to Thompkins, Aiken and Jenkins.

-Leon Washington, Lavelle Hawkins, LeGarrette Blount, Boyce and Thompkins were back returning kicks.

-Marcus Cannon and Ryan Wendell stood out in blocking one-on-ones. Sebastian Vollmer struggled. Vollmer appears to be dealing with an injury. Will Svitek and Markus Zusevics will spell him from time to time.

-Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley all took snaps out wide at receiver. Bolden came in motion to the backfield, Ridley caught a screen and Vereen caught an out route.

-The Patriots are trying everyone out on the first team at wide receiver. Amendola, Dobson, Boyce, Thompkins, Jenkins and Aiken are all getting snaps.

-Bolden had an impressive day. He looks much better than Blount so far. It would be surprising if Bolden gets cut for Blount.

-Tebow caught a pass during juke drills, where a running back or wide receiver catches the ball, then tries to make the defender miss. He was also in on a fumbling drill designed for skill position players that Brady and Mallet did not take part in.

DEFFENSE

-Adrian Wilson certainly brings a physical presence to the secondary, but he’s a step slower than the rest of the safeties. He’ll likely be used in an in-the-box role this year.

-Kyle Arrington had a great practice in general. He was impressive in drills, seven-on-sevens and 11-on-11s. He even picked off Tom Brady at one point.

-Dowling really struggled on Sunday. He wasn’t getting a jam at the line of scrimmage and he got beat a couple times by Boyce and Quentin Sims.

-Alfonzo Dennard had another nice practice. Aqib Talib said the second-year corner lost some weight, making him quicker. Dennard had a few pass breakups over Boyce and Dobson.

-Marcus Benard and Chandler Jones really impressed in pass rush one-on-ones. Joe Vellano was completely stuffed by any and all offensive linemen. Benard had the play of the drill when he rushed by Vollmer untouched. Benard is a player to watch in training camp.

-Dont’a Hightower took part in some pass rush one-on-one drills.

-Talib blitzed off the edge in 11-on-11s and got obliterated.

-Jamie Collins continued to show his versatility by covering the slot one-on-one.

Have a question for Doug Kyed? Send it to him via Twitter at @DougKyedNESN or send it here.

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