Here is a position-by-position compilation of observations and opinions from Pats’ beat writers and bloggers from the first two days of the New England Patriots’ 2013 training camp in Foxborough.
Tebow’s footwork was sloppy. He threw passes into coverage, he had passes batted at the line of scrimmage, and he held onto the ball too long and scrambled at least twice in drills, being forced to scramble.
He was even victimized on one of the two highlights of the day, when defensive end Chandler Jones, who had dropped into coverage on the play, intercepted a pass from Tebow intended for running back George Winn.
On the day, Tebow went 6-of-10 in 11-on-11 drills and had two passes intercepted, the second of those being delivered right into the bread basket of safety Nate Ebner.
As a passer, Tebow has a long way to go… – Erik Frenz, Boston Globe
Mallett not sharp: It’s doubtful that Tebow will supplant Mallett as Tom Brady’s top backup, but the former Arkansas quarterback didn’t do much to help himself Friday afternoon. Mallett completed about 60 percent of his passes during 11-on-11 drills, but his decision-making seemed slow and he was forced to take a few sacks. He also should have been picked off a few times.
Brady OK: Unlike his understudies, Brady put together a solid(ish) practice. He was (unofficially) 9 of 13 during 11-on-11 drills and helped put together a few highlights by dropping a pass over safety Adrian Wilson’s head to a streaking Jake Ballard, and later hit Danny Amendola for a diving catch on the sidelines. – Nick Underhill, Springfield Republican
Tim Tebow had a rough morning at QB, his throwing motion has improved a bit, but his footwork is still sloppy and he took too long in getting rid of the football, twice resulting in interceptions, one on a heck of a play by Chandler Jones. – Steve Balestrieri, Pats Pub
Nate Ebner and Chandler Jones both picked off Tebow. The ball was thrown directly at Ebner and Jones merely had to stretch out for an errant Tebow screen.
Tebow looked bad in seven-on-sevens… – Doug Kyed, NESN
Tom Brady was sharp, but the rain made the passing game a bit sloppy. Ryan Mallett has an absolute cannon and had a few good throws, but his play is so inconsistent; hard to think any team would actually trade for someone who has proven so little. – Derek Havens, Patriots Haven
I thought back QB Ryan Mallett looked much better today than last season, he still takes a bit longer to make his reads, but compared to Brady, most everyone does. He did make some really nice throws and when he makes up his mind, the ball gets there really fast. The equivalent of a major league 95 mph fastball when he uncorks it. – Steve Balestrieri, Pats Pub
It could be because he was standing next to Tim Tebow, but Ryan Mallett‘s arm strength is really something to watch. He connected on a deep ball in the drills with receiver Perez Ashford, and later had a nice hookup with receiver Michael Jenkins. Mallett also had a standout performance in early 7-on-7s, going 5-for-5 in a passing drill and capping it off with a deep ball for Josh Boyce that was bobbled by defensive back Tavon Wilson but picked up by Boyce. In that same drill, Brady went 2-for-5 and had two balls batted down by the giant paddles that were held up by staff members. (He wasn’t happy.) On his final turn, he tossed a ball toward tight end Jake Ballard, but Ballard couldn’t hold on to the ball, and Devin McCourty came away with the pick. – Christopher Price, WEEI
It’s no secret that Tebow isn’t the best practice player or seven-on-seven passer, and his deficiencies were on full display on Sunday.
In one drill, two of his three passes were swatted down by the racquets used at the line of scrimmage. He badly skipped a few throws in the dirt in other drills, at one point drew drawing sarcastic cheers from the crowd. In 11-on-11 drills, he held on to the ball for literally 10-12 seconds before finally scrambling out of the pocket.
To his credit, Tebow threw a really nice deep ball to Lavelle Hawkins deep down the left sideline. Tebow spent 20 minutes working with a coach after practice, then snuck out of the back entrance away from media and straggling fans. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
Tim Tebow was actually worse than yesterday. I do not want to pile on the guy, he gets enough criticism, but he struggled greatly on Saturday. He hesitates too much, seems to lack confidence in his throws, tries to extend plays, but forgets this is a timing based offense and all of those factors contradict what you want in a quarterback.
While I know the Patriots like him and want him to develop, I have yet to see even a single throw that makes me feel confident he should make the team as a signal caller. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
Tom Brady, ever the perfectionist, emitted a primal scream after overthrowing a wide-open Matthew Slater on a deep pass. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
Running back Leon Washington showed off his abilities as a kickoff returner, running hard through special teams drills. His burst and downhill style of running were both evident every time he touched the ball. The Patriots have ranked in the bottom half of the league in average kickoff return yards in each of the past three years, and could use a boost in that area. – Erik Frenz, Boston Globe
Leon Washington did not get a ton of reps at running back, but he was explosive in kickoff drills. His addition to the special teams unit could pay big dividends in an area the team has lacked the past few years. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
Running back Brandon Bolden was back on the field after missing offseason workouts with a sprained ankle, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Bolden looked spry and back to full strength, a good sign for the second-year running back who is in the mix among a crowded backfield. – Field Yates, espnBoston
With very little contact in practice, running backs are hard to evaluate, but Stevan Ridley looked good through drills. Shane Vereen caught a ton of passes and made some nice cuts. LeGarrette Blount seemed to get more opportunities, but I thought Brandon Bolden had more flash when given a chance. – Derek Havens, Patriots Haven
Good day catching the football for Shane Vereen. The Patriots worked hard on swing/flare passes with the running backs, and Vereen’s natural catching skills were on display. – Field Yates, espnBoston
Going into camp, I said LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden would be battling for a roster spot. On Friday Blount seemed to get more opportunities, but I thought Brandon Bolden had more flash when given a chance. On Saturday, Bolden continued to look better — albeit in almost no contact — but Blount has also struggled to catch the football. Something to monitor moving forward. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
Wide receiver Danny Amendola made the highlight catch of 11-on-11 drills on a diving reception over cornerback Alfonzo Dennard. Chemistry between Amendola and quarterback Tom Brady appeared to be coming along, although there was one notable missed connection between them where Brady expected Amendola to run a route that would be a bit deeper than the one he ran.
Wide receiver Kamar Aiken made his presence felt in practice, running with the first- and second-team offenses. He made a diving catch down the sideline on a well-thrown pass from Brady, drawing a big reaction from the crowd as he slid out-of-bounds. – Erik Frenz, Boston Globe
Two pass catchers really stood out: One, Aiken had a handful of nice catches on the session, and made his case on the first day of camp to be included in any discussion about wide receiver depth. A good day for him. Meanwhile, Dobson spent a lot of time running with a reasonable facsimile of the starting offense. It looked like he spent time in the slot, but didn’t look overwhelmed at all in his first full training camp workout. Singling these two out doesn’t necessarily mean the rest of the group did poorly — Danny Amendola and Jake Ballard also had some nice moments, with Ballard in particular making a nice catch down the sideline on a pass from Brady. (Josh Boyce was also on the field with the starters for a spell.) Instead, those were the two who distinguished themselves. – Christopher Price, WEEI
Dobson better: After an up-and-down minicamp that featured several dropped passes, rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson put together a solid first day of training camp. He had a few solid catches and appeared to only have one drop, which came on a Tebow pass. While the players did rotate in and out, it’s worth noting that Dobson received some time alongside Amendola and Ballard.
Fellow rookie Josh Boyce also had a solid day – Nick Underhill, Springfield Republican
On offense, Boyce and Dobson were both impressive in their first training camp practice. Dobson dropped one pass, but looked improved from OTAs. Boyce was already showing his deep speed and cutting ability. Dobson was lining up in the first team offense with Danny Amendola, Jake Ballard, Hoomanawanui and Stevan Ridley.
Michael Jenkins spent some time in the slot, which was new.
Kamar Aiken has carved out a decent chunk of snaps early on. It could just be that he knows the offense better than his teammates, but he’s making the most of his opportunities. – Doug Kyed, NESN
Immediately liked what I saw in Aaron Dobson as well, he made some nice plays, did have a concentration drop but carries himself off the field like a seasoned vet. Just a little bit of swagger….gotta love that.
Fellow wide receiver Josh Boyce didn’t get as many reps, but looks completely healthy from his foot injury and runs very smooth, precise routes and seems to have nice hands catching the ball.
Danny Amendola looks to have the slot position down pat, he’s already Brady’s go-to guy and they put him in motion a lot, He caught a ton of passes inside, outside and down the seams….and is already a crowd favorite. – Steve Balestrieri, Pats Pub
The rookie receivers have all gotten serious reps over the first two days of camp, and not just draftees Boyce and Dobson. Kamar Aiken had his second straight nice day, while Kenbrell Thompkins had a great reception on a pass from Mallett, beating Logan Ryan down the sideline. Dobson was on the receiving end of a couple of impressive passes from Brady, including one where he hauled in a tough pass over Aqib Talib on the right sideline. Boyce also had a couple of nice catches, but flat-out dropped a deep ball from Brady late in the practice session. At least in the early going, it’s clear the Patriots are going to give the youngsters plenty of opportunities to prove their worth. – Christopher Price, WEEI
WR Aaron Dobson: Rookie second-rounder caught pretty much everything thrown his way on Saturday, including a few impressive catches in traffic.
WR Michael Jenkins made a beautiful leaping catch over the middle against S Adrian Wilson on a pass from Ryan Mallett.
Mallett threw a deep pass that bounced off S Tavon Wilson’s hands, and WR Josh Boyce snatched the deflection for an 80-yard touchdown.
Rookie WR Aaron Dobson drew big cheers from the crowd after making a leaping sideline catch over Aqib Talib and tapping his toes in-bounds.
Rookie WR Kenbrell Thompkins also made a beautiful catch in traffic over CB Logan Ryan on a deep pass up the left sideline from Tom Brady.
Thompkins, an undrafted rookie, took some reps with the first unit alongside Danny Amendola and Dobson. Kamar Aiken, who played mostly with the first unit on Friday, played mostly with the second unit on Saturday alongside Michael Jenkins, Josh Boyce, and others.
Punt returners: Leon Washington, Josh Boyce, Lavelle Hawkins, Danny Amendola. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
Rookie wide receiver Aaron Dobson showed confidence in going over the middle and making several catches outside of his frame. That’s a positive sign for the 22-year-old, who should at least compete for a prominent role as a perimeter receiver. – Field Yates, espnBoston
Undrafted rookie free agent receiver Kenbrell Thompkins was a full participant in today’s practice, just one day after being limited. He looked sharp as a perimeter receiver working down the field, and also got in some isolated work with Tom Brady on tear screens during a special teams period. It will be interesting to see how he moves after the catch when the pads come on. – Field Yates, espnBoston
Let’s start with the idea that these have not been full-pads practices, so receivers have yet to work getting off the jam. That can change the look of things in an instant.
With free releases off the line of scrimmage, three rookie receivers have shown up most at various points over the first two days — draft picks Aaron Dobson (second round) and Josh Boyce (fourth round), and Kenbrell Thompkins (free agent).
Dobson, in particular, has caught our attention because he’s been given an early chance for top repetitions with Brady. He’s 6-foot-3 and listed at 200 pounds, and has been working mostly outside the numbers. He made one very nice catch Saturday, turning his back to the ball, leaping and reaching up over cornerback Aqib Talib to haul in a delivery from Brady along the right sideline.
There’s a long way to go, but it’s a promising start for Dobson. Can’t think of too many rookies who have received this much work with Brady this early in camp. – Mike Reiss, espnBoston
Dobson’s athleticism jumped out at viewers time and time again. He consistently showed the quickness and soft hands that made him a second-round draft choice, and the Patriots’ second pick in the draft.
He’s not known for his burner speed, but he showed the ability to get deep against the defense on more than a couple of catches. That deep element has been missing from the Patriots offense for years, and Dobson could provide it.
Concentration was another part of Dobson’s game that was on display, as the rookie made several difficult catches in traffic, including the highlight of the day: Dobson got off the jam of cornerback Aqib Talib, sprinted toward the sideline, and made the leaping catch off quarterback Tom Brady’s throw, with Talib draped all over him. – Erik Frenz, Boston Globe
(Aaron) Dobson’s day. He had at least three really good catches and several others.
(Josh) Boyce on the other hand I thought struggled a little. He got yelled at during a cone drill and had one drop with no one covering and another one in 7 on 7s. He did have one really nice one too.
Through 2 days my opinion shows Dobson as being the better of the two but way to early for this.
At one point in practice I looked for (Logan) Ryan to specifically watch him and the very play I looked him up he got torched by Kenbrell (Thompkins). But (that was) really the only play I watched him. – SBB, PatsFans.com
A number of the many questions entering training camp centered around what the Patriots will do at tight end, with Rob Gronkowski (back) unable to participate and Aaron Hernandez gone. While the team continues to evaluate the position, there were certainly hints dropped about which mix of players the team has in mind. The trio of Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, and Zach Sudfeld appear to be in direct competition with each other as Gronkowski’s primary backup, while Michael Hoomanawanui is seeing competition, although to a lesser degree, from rookie Brandon Ford. This confirms what we already had come to believe exiting minicamp. – Zuri Berry, Boston Globe
Jake Ballard looked pretty good in his first day out there. He’s a big guy, and made some nice catches. He is going to be an important addition when they get out there and make things work. – Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
Ballard better: Worth noting that Ballard appeared to move much better during Friday’s practice after appearing a little stiff and slow in minicamp. He received the bulk of the work with the top unit, with undrafted rookie Zach Sudfeld working with the second unit. His performance was mixed with some good plays and some bad ones. TE Brandon Ford had a drop. – Nick Underhill, Springfield Republican
Ballard looked healthier, but still had a “hitch in his giddy-up.” – Doug Kyed, NESN
TE Daniel Fells made a beautiful fingertip grab on a square-in pass over the middle from Tom Brady. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
It’s clear that things are very fluid at this point at tight end. Ballard continues to get more and more reps at tight end, and looks a little smoother and more fluid than he did this spring during minicamps. Daniel Fells is part of the regular rotation, and Michael Hoomanawanui got consistent reps at both tight end and fullback. In addition, Zach Sudfeld continues to stand out because of his size and the fact that he doesn’t appear to be too overwhelmed by much. – Christopher Price, WEEI
Jake Ballard is continuing to get the primary reps at tight end. – Jeff Howe, Boston Herald
Marcus Cannon was in starting at right guard during 11-on-11s. – Doug Kyed, NESN
Marcus Cannon appears to have supplanted Dan Connolly at right guard, at least for now. The rest of the offensive line is what you’d expect (L to R): Nate Solder, Logan Mankins, Ryan Wendell, and Sebastian Vollmer. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
Saw some work for Markus Zusevics at left tackle today. He’s also been previously spotted at right tackle and right guard. That kind of versatility can help a lineman stick around. – Field Yates, espnBoston
Right guard Dan Connolly still hasn’t participated in team drills after offseason shoulder surgery. – Jeff Howe, Boston Herald
Tommy Kelly is one big dude, not just big like a big football player but really big, like a mountain. He is going to bear watching once the pads come on and the hitting begins in earnest. Next to Wilfork in the line, it’s going to be interesting. – Steve Balestrieri, Pats Pub
The top play for the defense likely came when defensive end Chandler Jones dove to scoop up a short pass from quarterback Tim Tebow toward the end of practice. A nifty acrobatic play that drew cheers from the rain-soaked crowd that was in attendance. – Christopher Price, WEEI
File This Under May Mean Something…May Not- Saw Jermaine Cunningham get first reps at DE after Jones and Ninkovich. For someone that I have firmly only the bubble, maybe it means he’s going to get every chance to save his own job.
He’s always had Belichick’s confidence although his on-field performance hasn’t always been a source for such confidence…. It will bear watching
On the subject of defensive ends, Michael Buchanan has the prototypical size and frame to really make a name for himself. He really looks the part, now he needs to do it on the field. – Steve Balestrieri, Pats Pub
Chandler Jones moved well even though adding 10 pounds over the off-season. He made a diving interception on errant Tebow pass, which was pretty incredible. The second year defensive end also looked strong off the edge. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
Chandler Jones said he worked out this off-season and added 10 pounds of muscle, it looks more like 15. He looks ripped and very strong today. It was hard to get a feel on the offensive and defensive lines as they weren’t hitting but Jones looks ready to assume that mantle of a dominant defensive player. – Steve Balestrieri, Pats Pub
The process of evaluating the big guys will kick into another gear on Sunday when the pads come on, but one defensive end who caught our attention was rookie Michael Buchanan. His quickness was apparent from afar. – Field Yates, espnBoston
DT Tommy Kelly worked at several positions across the defensive line. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
Jones I credited him with 2 sacks and he a pick on a crappy thrown bubble screen by Tebow. You can clearly see he has bulked up. Very intrigued by him today. Vince was there on one of them too to make sure the QB couldn’t scramble.
Bequette looked he had a sack too. And Cunningham once as well.
They did a drill where a receiver caught it vs two defenders and the defenders were to try and knock the ball out. Ninko was the only one I saw who got one out. Nice to see him pick up where he left off with ball hawking. – SBB, PatsFans.com
Patriots top draft choice Jamie Collins subbed in as an outside linebacker in passing situations for starter Brandon Spikes. Spikes was joined by Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower again in the first team. – Zuri Berry, Boston Globe
Collins got in a few reps in place of Brandon Spikes, and looked comfortable when he was out on the field. – Christopher Price, WEEI
Rookie Jamie Collins looked sharp during practice and came in for Brandon Spikes on “passing downs” during team drills. – Nick Underhill, Springfield Republican
Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins was the star at practice (Friday). He only played linebacker (he also played defensive end at Southern Miss) and he looked better in coverage than any Patriots linebacker last season. His best play of the day was on a Ryan Mallett pass to Michael Hoomanawanui. The 2013 second-round pick broke on the play and swatted the ball away. Collins was getting significant snaps with the first-team defense, subbing in for Brandon Spikes mostly, but also Dont’a Hightower at times. Collins also spent some time in the nickel defense. When Spikes would come out, Collins would line up at strong-side linebacker, Hightower would play in the middle and Jerod Mayo would take up his usual spot at weak-side backer. – Doug Kyed, NESN
Rookie linebacker Jamie Collins was impressive Friday. He moved well and seemed comfortable, almost like he had been there before. The team moved him all around, similar to what his expected role is for the upcoming year, but he got a lot of reps dropping into coverage at middle linebacker. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
Steve Beauharnais and Talib made some nice pass breakups. – Doug Kyed, NESN
Brandon Spikes is so fun to watch. In pass coverage, yes, he can be a liability at times, but it is hard not to like what he brings to the defense. His swagger creates an energy that seems to be felt by the whole defense and his physicality sets the tone. Overall, it was good to see him back on the field after miss Organized Team Activities. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
Rookie second-rounder Jamie Collins is being thrown right into the fire, getting work with the first unit at several positions, but mostly linebacker. Collins, who arrived at Southern Mississippi Miss as a safety, could end up being the Patriots’ nickel Nickel linebacker used in pass coverage, even though he finished his college career as a pass rusher. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
Top draft choice Jamie Collins, the linebacker from Southern Mississippi, is a player we’ll closely monitor, particularly given his versatility. It’s hard to pinpoint how the team plans to use him defensively (he has positional flexibility), but he should find a home on special teams too. He’s worked extensively in various special-teams drills during the early goings of camp. His movement skills, speed and length make him a natural candidate to play on the four core units. – Field Yates, espnBoston
The starting secondary remained almost entirely in tact from last season: Aqib Talib was the primary No. 1 cornerback, and Alfonzo Dennard and Kyle Arrington shared time lined up outside and in the slot. Devin McCourty remained the team’s free safety, but Adrian Wilson ran with the first-team defense at strong safety. Tavon Wilson, who started several games at safety last year and manned the “money” defensive back spot, got a few reps with the ones, but spent most of his time with the second-team defense.
Ras-I Dowling rarely found himself on the wrong end of a reception (just two into his coverage), but overall, he looked good in sticking to his man in coverage. – Erik Frenz, Boston Globe
I watched Adrian Wilson closely today, and rumors of his demise seem premature. He looked like he was moving around really well and they rotated him in a few different spots. But he carries himself like the leader he is, was talking to every player coming off the field.
He’s built like a linebacker and I foresee him playing an in-the-box role for the Patriots. He did get beat by Jake Ballard on a deep sideline throw, but had good coverage and it was more of a good play by Ballard than a poor on by him. – Steve Balestrieri, Pats Pub
Talib had a great pass breakup on a pass intended for Dobson. – Nick Underhill, Springfield Republican
The Patriots secondary and linebacker corps is starting to develop just as suspected. Cornerback Kyle Arrington is key here, working as the team’s starting right corner and shifting inside to the team’s “star,” or slot corner, in passing situations. This is the same as it was last year, except Alfonzo Dennard and Ras-I Dowling are essentially competing to back him up. Also in the secondary, free agent pickup Adrian Wilson has slid into the first-team group opposite Devin McCourty at safety. – Zuri Berry, Boston Globe
Undrafted rookie cornerback Justin Green showed off his impressive speed, sticking with Josh Boyce down the field. Green is one of the newest Patriots, signed this week.
Kyle Arrington, Aqib Talib, Devin McCourty and a combination of Steve Gregory and Adrian Wilson accounted for the starting secondary. Alfonzo Dennard was the nickelback and spent time outside and in the slot, which was a new wrinkle.- Doug Kyed, NESN
Devin McCourty was at free safety throughout the day in a red, non-contact jersey as he is still not yet 100 percent from off-season shoulder surgery; although from what I saw, no need to worry. Adrian Wilson received plenty of reps alongside McCourty and moved really well. No. 24 looked like a linebacker on the field. Steve Gregory was also in the mix. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
Steve Gregory continued to take a few repetitions with the first unit at safety alongside Devin McCourty, while Dennard, Aqib Talib, and Kyle Arrington mostly worked with the first team at cornerback.
CB Alfonzo Dennard: Still in the starting lineup despite recent DUI arrest, and made several impressive plays, on Saturday, including an interception of Mallett on a deep ball.
S Tavon Wilson: Got toasted deep a few times. – Robert Burgess, Boston Globe
Top defensive honors on Saturday likely go to cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who can away with a couple of really impressive pass breakups. One came on a Mallett pass attempt for Sudfeld, and another was on a Brady pass for Aaron Dobson. A third play where he knocked away another pass would have likely drawn a pass interference call, but all in all, it was a good day for the cornerback, who again took his regular reps on the outside with the starting defense. – Christopher Price, WEEI
Impressive show from second-year cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, who broke up several passes and intercepted another. He fared well in competitive catch situations down the field. Ball skills has long been an area that Dennard has shown himself to be proficient in. He also did some work in the slot, something we haven’t seen much (if any) of previously. – Field Yates, espnBoston
Alfonso Dennard was exceptional Saturday. Not only was the second-year cornerback all over the field, he was also deflecting passes and had an interception. Across from fellow cornerback, Aqib Talib, they bring an attitude and confidence that the Pats secondary hasn’t had since Asante Samuel. – Derek Haven, Patriots Haven
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