Adrian Wilson’s Defensive Versatility Among Observations at Patriots’ First Minicamp Practice


Adrian WilsonFOXBORO, Mass. — Outside of Tim Tebow‘s debut for the Patriots on Tuesday, New England’s first day of minicamp was without any major news. That’s usually a good thing around this time of year.

Last week, during the final OTA session, Jake Ballard, Stevan Ridley and Alfonzo Dennard all got banged up, with Dennard having to be carted off the field with a shoulder injury. There were no injuries on Tuesday and Ballard, Ridley and Dennard were all back on the field.

All three players served in a limited role, but Ballard was out taking passes with the quarterbacks and participating in the offense in Rob Gronkowski‘s absence. Ridley was mostly stretching and working in the practice bubble, while Dennard was just out on the field watching.

Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Nick McDonald and Marcus Forston were absent from practice and there were five players participating that were not on the roster. There was a running back, wide receiver, offensive lineman, defensive lineman and linebacker on hand for workouts. The defensive lineman might have been NCCU defensive tackle John Drew, who Aaron Wilson from the Baltimore Sun said would be working the Patriots during minicamp on a tryout basis.

With a shallow wide receiver group, Michael Jenkins, Kenbrell Thompkins and Lavelle Hawkins were able to get a lot of work in. Danny Amendola worked with the quarterbacks heavily, as well. All four players looked to be on the same page as Brady, and made some highlight catches. Zach Sudfeld, too, was impressive again. He’s been getting a lot of action in Gronkowski’s place and is a player to watch moving forward.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was on hand for practice. He spent time talking to Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Robert Kraft, who made an appearance late. Belichick seems to have developed a relationship with Kelly recently. Possibly there’s a Notre Dame to New England connection developing?

Brandon Spikes and Brandon Bolden were back on the field. Spikes didn’t report to OTAs, while Bolden sat out with an ankle injury. Spikes spent some time on the bike and got on the field briefly, but didn’t appear to be installed in the offense right away. Safety Adrian Wilson actually spent some time in a linebacker/nickel back role. He’s certainly big enough to play linebacker. In the past I mistook him for Jamie Collins, today I thought he was Chandler Jones for a second.

In McCourty’s place (he’s still nursing a shoulder injury), Tavon Wilson and Steve Gregory were back at safety. Ras-I Dowling and Kyle Arrington got some work in place of Dennard. The players were without numbers once again, but with binoculars, you can spot helmet and shorts numbers.

Tebow looked fine in his first appearance. He’s not throwing from the hip anymore and looks better throwing on the run, but there’s still a hitch in his windup. He was only lining up at quarterback for the day.

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