FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots’ defense remained competitive throughout minicamp even after Bill Belichick added more firepower to the team’s offense over the offseason.
That’s a good sign for a defense that already allowed the fewest points per game and was good enough to win a Super Bowl last season. The Patriots’ defense picked off all three quarterbacks in Thursday’s final minicamp practice of the spring. The Patriots will hold one more organized team activities session open to the media Monday and two closed practices next week. Then, they’ll be off for five weeks.
Here’s our full list of observations from the session.
— Quarterback Tom Brady went 23-of-37 with an interception in overall team drills and was 14-of-24 in 11-on-11s. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo was 11-of-14 with an interception overall and just 4-of-4 in 11s as he took a backseat to Brady and Jacoby Brissett. Brissett was 22-of-32 with an interception overall and 10-of-16 in 11s.
— Safety Nate Ebner picked off Garoppolo in 7-on-7s, safety Jason Thompson intercepted Brissett in 7-on-7s and cornerback Eric Rowe picked off Brady in 7-on-7s.
— The Patriots’ defenders continued to get their hands on the football at a high rate. Safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Harvey Langi and cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Eric Rowe had pass breakups in team drills. Rookie safety David Jones broke up a pass intended for Julian Edelman during 2-on-2 drills, as well.
— Rowe was perhaps the biggest defensive standout Thursday.
— Wide receivers Chris Hogan, Devin Lucien, Austin Carr and Cody Hollister and running back D.J. Foster all made impressive catches during practice. Hogan’s was one-handed, Lucien and Foster’s were leaping and Carr and Hollister’s were diving grabs. Lucien has been receiving playing time with Brady and Garoppolo and is a name to watch as training camp and preseason loom around the corner.
— The entire defense had to take two laps around the field after one portion of 11-on-11 drills. Nose tackle Josh Augusta lagged behind his teammates on the first lap and couldn’t finish the second go-around.
— Cornerback Malcolm Butler, defensive lineman Lawrence Guy and offensive tackle Andrew Jelks were absent from practice.
— Defensive end Kony Ealy walked off the field midway through practice.
— Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, defensive tackle Alan Branch and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell continued to work on a separate field during team drills. Safety Duron Harmon continued to increase his participation.
— Cornerback Cyrus Jones muffed a punt return. He had been perfect Tuesday and Wednesday after struggling in the first organized team activities session open to the media two weeks ago.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images