FOXBORO, Mass. — The rest of the Patriots and Buccaneers were playing for second best on Tuesday afternoon.
Vincent Jackson was far and away the best player on the field at Gillette Stadium. The Buccaneers wide receiver schooled the Patriots’ defensive backs in the New England-Tampa Bay joint practice. It didn’t matter if Aqib Talib was covering him or rookie Logan Ryan, Jackson was going to come down with the ball.
It was a sloppy day overall for the Patriots. The weather was less than ideal with a haze covering the sky and occasional rainfall. There were dropped passes, sacks and missed throws, too. It wasn’t all bad for the Patriots, though. Zach Sudfeld continues to prove why his stock is currently soaring. Sudfeld was with the first-team offense for the majority of practice, catching passes from Tom Brady all day. Jake Ballard also received snaps with the first team at tight end.
Mark Harrison, Brandon Spikes, Jason Vega, Jermaine Cunningham and Armond Armstead were not spotted. Rob Gronkowski was out in sweats. Michael Jenkins, Marcus Cannon, Alfonzo Dennard, Dan Connolly, Tyronne Green, Markus Zusevics and Ras-I Dowling were in uniform, but did not appear to be participating.
-The play of the day came on a pass from Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins. Thompkins reached around Rashaan Melvin to make a one-handed grab. Other than a muffed punt return, Thompkins had another stellar day — which has become the norm — on the practice field.
-The Patriots were dropping balls left and right. I noted drops from James Develin, Michael Hoomanawanui, Julian Edelman, Shane Vereen and a few from Aaron Dobson. Dobson had a tough practice.
-Ballard looks like he’s running in slow motion but he can usually box out his defender to catch the ball. Strength, certainly not speed, is the name of the game for Ballard.
-George Winn made a really nice one-handed grab during running back/tight end one-on-ones against linebackers and safeties.
-The Patriots were torching Johnthan Banks early on, but the rookie cornerback rebounded with a couple nice plays on fellow rookie Dobson.
-We saw Develin, Brandon Bolden and Vereen split out wide at running back.
-Will Svitek was still in at right guard, where he continues to look comfortable.
-Devin McCourty was in the red non-contact jersey and swapping between cornerback and safety. He looked all right at best at cornerback. His best position is clearly safety. Duron Harmon was once again taking snaps at free safety while McCourty was down at corner.
-Adrian Wilson has had some struggles all camp in covering one-on-one. He’s best when he’s playing near the line of scrimmage. The Patriots showed a nickel package with three down linemen, Wilson, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower at linebacker and a secondary of Talib, Arrington, McCourty, Harmon and Steve Gregory. It was an interesting look.
-With Spikes out, it gave Jamie Collins the opportunity to play strong-side linebacker with the base defense. Dont’a Hightower kicked over to the middle. The Patriots stayed in nickel for most of practice, though, with either Arrington or Marquice Cole covering the slot.
-Marcus Forston and Marcus Benard were getting some reps with the ones. Forston was playing for Tommy Kelly, while Benard was playing both outside in a pass rush role and at defensive tackle in a pass rush role.
-While working with the twos, Tavon Wilson tipped the ball up and picked off Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon. It was one of his best plays of the summer.