Toucher & Rich

BOSTON (CBS) — By all accounts down in Richmond, Virginia, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots’ offense has been dominating the field in joint practices with the Washington Redskins.

Of course, that all starts with Brady. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning, and said No. 12 has been his usual self in the early goings of the preseason.

“He’s been terrific,” Howe said of Brady. “[He’s completed] 60 of his 80 passes in drills through the (first) two days. He’s been great with his two best receivers, [Julian] Edelman and [Danny] Amendola. He’s hit Edelman 16 of the 18 times he’s thrown to him and Amendola 13 out of the 15 times he’s thrown at him. Those two have really stepped up.”

We’ve come to expect that kind of production out of Edelman following his 105-catch season in 2013, but that’s very good news on the Amendola front. The receiver struggled to get on the same page with Tom Brady in his first year in New England after suffering a groin injury in Week 1, but Howe says that Amendola has really taken a few steps in the right direction while in Richmond.

“Edelman has been good all camp, but Amendola has really come along this week. That is something the Patriots have to love to see, just because of the way last year went for him,” said Howe. “He looked like a legitimate 100-catch guy throughout the summer and then got hurt in Week 1. We’ll see how long it lasts, but there is a lot of reason for optimism as the Patriots still wait for Gronk and Dobson to step on the field – fully at least.”

As for the other receivers at Brady’s disposal, Howe says they’ve been inconsistent throughout camp but are showing signs of improvement.

“[Kenbrell] Thompkins was on fire for the first week of camp, and that really rolled over from spring workouts. But he’s taken a step back to earth the last week; there have been some drops, he got yelled at by Brady for not running the routes the way Brady wants him to go,” explained Howe. “He’s been up and down, but he still looks like a guy who if they trotted out the same personnel in Week 1 he would be a starting outside receiver.”

That brings us to newcomer Brandon LaFell, who many think will have an every-man role in the passing game.

“LaFell has been better the last week after being really inconsistent the first week. He had a lot of drops to start off camp, but I think he caught six passes from Brady [Tuesday] in team drills, so that’s good development from him,” said Howe. “[I see him as a] rotational outside receiver who can also play in the slot if they need him to. He’s a really good, physical blocker, and coaches love the fact that he’s going to engage, whether it be on the outside or the slot with whatever defensive back is on top of him.”

Second-year receiver Josh Boyce is still nursing a leg injury he suffered in mini-camp, and Howe said the fourth-round pick is not the same guy he was during the spring.

Howe also touched on the physicality displayed by the new Patriots’ secondary:


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