FOXBORO (CBS) — It was certainly the hottest day of Patriots training camp so far, and we saw some interesting things because of it. Here are some of my thoughts and observations from Day 5 of camp.
–Duron Harmon (knee) and Cody Hollister (shoulder) were not at practice. Alan Branch (PUP), Dont’a Hightower (PUP) and Andrew Jelks (NFI) were in sweats down on the lower conditioning field. DB David Jones and TE James O’Shaughnessy also were down on the conditioning field.
–There were very few clouds during the two hour practice session. Lots of hot sun, and temps soared into the mid-80s. With the rising temps came rising tempers. Dwayne Allen and Caleb Kidder got into it briefly on a one-on-one line drill and then Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore had a scrap in the end zone.
Jacoby Brissett threw a ball to Edelman that was incomplete and in the process Gilmore hauled Edelman to the ground. Pushing ensued and Edelman eventually had his helmet come off while teammates jumped in to break it up. When it was over – as is policy with Bill Belichick – both were ejected for the rest of practice. Afterwards, Allen said the hope is that they learn from it because they can’t have it happen in a game, while Matthew Slater acknowledged the same thing while also understanding that such things happen.
I’m sure Belichick will quickly point out post-practice that those scraps are unacceptable. Good timing, too, with Jacksonville in for joint practices next week.
–There was lots of hands-on coaching continuing at practice. Bill Belichick was seemingly all over the two fields. At one point he was throwing blue blocking pads at the QBs while they were running around in 7-on-7 drills. Bill also coached up the D-lineman on setting the edge and then worked with D-linemen on a punt blocking drill, showing them how to do it first. Belichick could be heard yelling out different instructions as he went along too. Fun to watch and easy to see that the passion for coaching certainly hasn’t left him.
–-Lots of false starts/fumbled snaps, etc., as guys had to take laps throughout the practice. Jimmy Garoppolo and Ted Karras had to take a lap together after one botched snap.
–Matthew Slater hauled in two TD passes on the day with one of them generating a loud roar from the offense. Easy to see what makes him so good. Goes full speed on offense and special teams, and sets a great example for the team.
–Been saying it all along, but it’s so easy to see the speed of Brandin Cooks — kid can absolutely fly! Joked with Matthew Slater about how Cooks may now own the title of fastest man in camp. Slater said he loves the competition so perhaps we can set up a race between Edelman, Slater, and Cooks.
–Devin McCourty had a “great hands” pick taking a ball away from TE Jacob Hollister on a 1-on-1 drill while Justin Coleman intercepted a Jimmy Garoppolo pass intended for Chris Hogan. Eric Rowe then broke up the next Garoppolo attempt for Hogan. Both were during 11-on-11 drills.
–It was great to see long snapper Lonnie Paxton sign a one-day contract and officially retire a Patriot. Paxton played with New England from 2000-08 winning three Super Bowls. He was the man who snapped the ball on all the epic game-winning field goals by Adam Vinatieri. He beamed with pride talking about the “snow angel” he did after Vinatieri won the “Snow Bowl” at the old Foxboro Stadium to beat the Raiders in the 2001 playoffs — and then the “turf angel” he did after Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal at the Superdome a few weeks later when the Pats shocked the Rams to win their first Super Bowl.
–It was a much smaller crowd Tuesday with perhaps vacation, the warm weather, and other factors playing a role. I’m sure the crowds will be huge next Monday and Tuesday for the joint practices between the Pats and Jaguars.
–Don’t forget: All four preseason games will be on WBZ Channel 4 with Christian Fauria, Matt Chatham, Paul Perillo, and Andy Hart. The first game is slated for August 10 at 7:30 p.m. vs Jacksonville here at Gillette Stadium.