Brandin Cooks Gets Best Of Malcolm Butler In Day 1 Of Patriots-Saint Joint Practices

FOXBORO (CBS) — Practice No. 11 of Patriots training camp took place here on Tuesday, and much of the focus was on No. 11 of the Pats. It was Day 1 of joint practices with the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium and here are some thoughts and observations.

Julian Edelman came out looking fast and sharp during his two days out of pads. Early on Tuesday in 1-on-1 drills — Pats wide receivers vs Saints defensive backs — Edelman was doing his normal thing until after one pass, according to Mike Reiss, Edelman slammed his helmet down in disgust. After that, I saw Edelman sitting on a cart being looked at by trainer Jim Whelan. Edelman took his shoe off, walked around, waited a while and then left for the day. He did walk out, which you figure is a good sign. Ian Rappaport of the NFL Network says tests showed it was just a scare which would be great news. Maybe it was loose scar tissue or something along those lines. Let’s hope for the best because we all know how badly Edelman wants to be out there and how valuable he is. But, you have to be concerned with his history of his left foot injury. He just had surgery this offseason.

–Meanwhile, Rob Ninkovich left practice with a reported triceps injury. Since joining the Pats in 2009, Ninkovich has played in 111 of 112 games and has started every game the past five seasons. He does all the little things and has a tendency to make big plays at the end of games. Any lost time would be a loss for the defense.

–On a lighter nite, Bill Belichick and his coaches were wearing No. 12 USA rugby shirts as a tribute to Nate Ebner, who is Rio playing rugby in the Summer Olympic games.

–Former great Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi of ESPN was on hand for the workout while owner Robert Kraft made an appearance as well.

–As for the joint practice, I thought the Patriots came out a little flat. Not as much energy as we’ve seen in the past.

–Bill Belichick and Sean Payton pay attention to details. Example: Patriots punter Ryan Allen booted balls to Saints returners while New Orleans punter Thomas Morstead punted to New England returners. Sounds trivial, but it does give the returners a different look from what they’ve had all camp.

–First song of the day? “Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney. In the music video, Sean Payton gives a stirring motivational speech to kick things off. Great song and an awesome video.

–In 1-on-1 drills and throughout the day, receivers and tight ends that stood out to me? Rob Gronkowski (he had some drops but you can’t cover him 1-on-1), Martellus Bennett, Aaron Dobson, Nate Washington and Malcolm Mitchell. For the Saints, it was Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, and Brandon Coleman.

–Brandin Cooks beat Malcom Butler several times (something Butler acknowledged after practice). On a two-minute drill, Drew Brees went right at Butler’s 1-on-1 matchup and hit Cooks for a TD. It got the Saints excited. Butler said he’ll have a chance to turn the tide Wednesday. Cornerbacks need to have the mentality of a closer in baseball or a goalie in hockey. They have to move on quickly.

Tom Brady wasn’t especially sharp. He was intercepted (on a ball that was slightly tipped) by rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. Had to be a thrill for Rankins.

Jimmy Garoppolo was OK. He made a few bad throws. It will be interesting to see how he comes out of a mini-slump that he’s been in for four or five days. I know last year that once preseason games began, he was much better than he had been in practice.

–Drew Brees looked great for the Saints. He threw the ball around nicely all day. He was intercepted by Duron Harmon, but beyond that was real good. He led his team to a field goal in a two-minute drill and hit Cooks for a TD.

–You can make your way to one of the joint practices against the Saints (Wednesday) or Bears (next week). Lots of good situational football, battles, etc.

–Finally, don’t forget the first preseason game is slated for Thursday vs New Orleans at Gillette Stadium. You can watch the game on WBZ-TV Channel 4 at 7:30 p.m. with yours truly, Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Andy Hart, Paul Perillo, and Steve Burton. We’ll begin our coverage with Patriots Gameday at 7 p.m.

More from Dan Roche
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