Just got back from my second credentialed practice of the summer and it was by far the most interesting and entertaining. It was a long workout, going over two hours and featured plenty of 11-on-11 work in the last half hour.
If there was a headline of this practice it would have to be that the Brady-Cooks connection is hitting a new level. I wasn’t around to see what practices with Randy Moss looked like, but Brady is throwing deep to Cooks early and often. Cooks came down with multiple deep catches that drew oohs and aahs from the crowd.
And it wasn’t just Cooks, Chris Hogan got into the action on the deep balls, while Edelman and Gronk had a handful of their usual big plays.
All in all, you look at the offense and it’s easy to imagine what a nightmare they’re going to be for defenses all season long.
More on everything from a fun day of practice after the jump…
— Jack DeDonato (@JDeDonato23) August 7, 2017
— With the ability of Cooks and Hogan to stretch the field vertically, as well as Gronk’s ability to go up the seam, the vertical element of the offense should be more featured this season than we’ve seen in a long time. Too bad Brady can’t throw the deep ball, right? (That was sarcasm, sheeple)
— I’m really starting to like Rex Burkhead, who looks as well balanced as we’ve seen in awhile. He had a nice catch in the end zone in traffic that was just out of bounds. Still, it was a tough catch and he’s showing how versatile he is. He also plowed in a short yardage touchdown in 11-on-11 work.
— Dion Lewis is just so light on his feet, he glides over the field. If he can return to his 2015 form, look out.
— There were a few drops in this practice, but overall the explosive plays more than made up for them. Garoppolo looked better in 7-on-7’s than he did in 11-on-11’s.
— Pretty sure Kony Ealy is firmly on the bubble and I’d expect plenty of projected 53-man rosters to have him on the outside. He’ll need to get going in a hurry. Guys are getting longer looks with the top teams, but Ealy seems like an afterthought right now.
— Nate Solder was at practice but was limited during team drills, with Cam Fleming entering at left tackle. This is a bit of a departure from last week, when we saw some Waddle in there. Malcolm Mitchell was at practice without knee or arm braces but also disappeared during team drills.
— It would appear that Geneo Grissom has fallen out of the starter pack at this point. He was with the backups most of the time, not sure he had any snaps with the top group. Still, he’s playing most special teams so I think he’s close to a lock.
— Just not that impressed with Jacoby Brissett which is disappointing. Maybe it’s who he’s playing with, but I’d like to see more command and decisiveness.
— Diedrich Wise was once again a beast, taking plenty of snaps at Grissom’s old left defensive end spot. Wise played multiple spots on the line, and even dropped into coverage from an interior rush spot at one point. He’s not quite the athletic mover Chandler Jones was, he’s far more lumbering, but he’s a load for offensive lineman to deal with and rarely gives up any ground. It’s not crazy to think he could be an opening night starter.
— I keep waiting for Derek Rivers to make me take notice of him, but he continues to be just a guy out there even when I’m entirely focused on him. A splash play for him Thursday night would be big for him.
— Meanwhile Harvey Langi continues to see time with the starters as well, though I haven’t been that impressed with him to be honest. He needs to get a lot stronger and when Hightower gets back it will likely knock Langi down the depth chart significantly. But they seem to like him. I just think he’ll need a year to really settle in and build up the mass he’ll need to play on the edge.
— Shea McClellin continues to be a big part of the defense (which scares me). He was lining up as a stand up linebacker on the strong side mostly. That’s likely where Hightower will go, which makes me think McClellin will swap to the weakside where Kyle Van Noy‘s been playing. I just can’t stop wondering how this linebacker corps does if/when Hightower misses regular season time. Leaning on McClellin and Van Noy has shades of 2005, arguably the worst defense under Belichick. I’m not panicking, I’m just not excited about any of the linebackers outside of Hightower and Roberts’ downhill ability. Harris should be a good pickup, but running him into the ground seems like the last thing they’ll want to do at this stage in his career.
— I’ve said it a few times, but the line between defensive end and outside linebacker is so blurry these days. Only Harris and Roberts are the true middle linebackers. Everyone else, from Wise and Rivers, to Flowers, McClellin and Freeny get moved all over the place on the edge.
— Looks like Eric Rowe is firmly in then slot corner spot. Will be interesting to see if that’s still the case against small, shifty slot receivers. If they’re playing matchup Rowe’s a good player, especially for the taller slot guys, but if they’re playing sides, Rowe could be attacked with someone who can change directions quickly.
— Malcolm Butler had a nice diving interception. He continues to look uber competitive on every snap.
— The defense had a nice goal line stand, stopping the Jags from getting in. Always love to see that kind of tough play and it can be a nice building block for a defense looking to establish an identity.
— Getting some Dan Graham vibes from Dwayne Allen. He’s just all around solid. Good blocker, enough shimmy in his routes to make some plays. He’s the kind of solid tight end behind Gronk that is always needed.
— Finally we have this video of Celtics star Isaiah Thomas visiting practice with Mr. Kraft. What another awesome day!
Mr Kraft and Isaiah Thomas meeting the crowd. pic.twitter.com/btiXnmkM3C
— Mike Dussault (@PatsPropaganda) August 7, 2017