FOXBORO, Mass. — For New England Patriots fans hungry for football, Thursday’s training camp practice served as the bread and butter served even before appetizers.
NFL teams are not allowed to conduct full-contact practices on the first day of training camp, so the Patriots were on the field in shells and shorts in a continuation of spring practices.
The bleachers were so packed with fans to watch the Super Bowl LI champions that the Patriots had to open the Gillette Stadium ramps for standing room. Quarterback Tom Brady received the loudest chants and cheers when he ran onto the practice field wearing his TB12 hat.
Here’s our full list of observations from practice.
— Brady performed better in team drills than Jimmy Garoppolo, which is expected, but also shows the quarterback isn’t slowing down as he nears 40. Brady went 6-of-8 in 11-on-11s and 14-of-20 overall. Garoppolo went 6-of-8 in 11s and 12-of-18 with two interceptions overall. Jacoby Brissett went 9-of-15 in 11s and 17-of-31 with an interception overall.
— It was another strong showing for undrafted rookie cornerback Kenny Moore, who had an interception and four pass breakups. He was a standout during the spring, but this was his best practice so far in a Patriots uniform.
— Safety Jordan Richards and cornerback Eric Rowe also had interceptions. Rowe, cornerbacks Malcolm Butler and Dwayne Thomas, linebackers Jonathan Freeny and Kyle Van Noy and safety Nate Ebner had pass breakups.
— Wide receivers Cody Hollister, Devin Lucien, Austin Carr and Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Sam Cotton dropped passes. Mitchell looked a little rusty coming off an injury in spring practices.
— Defensive ends Rob Ninkovich and Kony Ealy and long snapper Joe Cardona were the only absences. Cardona reportedly has Navy obligations until Friday.
— Linebacker Dont’a Hightower (physically unable to perform list), defensive tackle Alan Branch (PUP list) and offensive tackle Andrew Jelks (non-football injury list) were present but didn’t participate while wearing sweats.
— With Ninkovich and Ealy out, Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers received a ton of reps at defensive end. Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy and Shea McClellin were the top linebackers with Hightower out. The Patriots still seem to be sorting out their No. 3 cornerback position. Moore could enter the mix after Thursday’s practice.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images