Jeff Howe, the Patriots beat writer for the Boston Herald, joined Tony Massarotti and Marc Bertrand on Monday afternoon, and right off the bat, he was asked what has stood out most in camp.
Without hesitation, Howe said that while Tom Brady has been the best player on the field throughout the start of camp, it has been newcomer Darrelle Revis who had the most impressive day. It was so impressive, in fact, that Howe is willing to entertain the thought of the Patriots having a top-five defense.
“The best practice came from Darrelle Revis. He was absolutely unbelievable on Saturday,” Howe said. “He intercepted Tom Brady twice, once during 1-on-1’s, the other time during team drills, both on patterns to Julian Edelman. Two different types of interceptions — at one point, Darrelle Revis was just the better guy, undercut a route and ran the route better than Edelman did. The other time, he made up some ground, it looked like Edelman had Revis beat down the sideline, but the way that Revis made up ground and was able to turn for the ball and was able to turn right as the ball was about to land in Edelman’s hands, it was like a reminder of what Randy Moss used to do, obviously on the other side of the ball. But the way that he was able to play the ball, the timing of it, was incredible. He broke up another couple of passes. It was really the best individual practice that we’ve seen down there.
“If he plays like that throughout the entire regular season — and there’s every reason to believe that he will — this defense could be a top five defense.”
Howe also noted that Brandon Browner has made the “hit of camp so far” when he laid out James White. In terms of health, Jerod Mayo appears to be ahead of schedule and Vince Wilfork continues to make progress.
On the other side of the ball, Howe said that he doesn’t expect Rob Gronkowski to take a meaningful rep in the preseason, but should be good to go for Week 1.
“I really do think you’ve got two camps that are very much on the same page in this process,” Howe said, a contrast to last year.
Howe also said he wouldn’t be surprised to see rookie running back James White play a prominent role in the offense.
“I think in my opinion he really could be going after Stevan Ridley’s reps as starting running back,” Howe said of White. “I know everybody’s kind of likened [White] to a Shane Vereen role, but I think White could add a lot more than that. He’s gotten a lot of quality reps in practice.”
Howe noted that Duron Harmon looks like starting safety next to Devin McCourty, that Jamie Collins gained some serious muscle and that Kenbrell Thompkins has looked like a starter at wide receiver.
Listen to the full conversation below.