The Patriots wrapped up their seventh practice of training camp Thursday afternoon, and it was much more lively than Wednesday nights in-stadium season ticket holder practice. The players were in full pads, and much of the absences were the same as they have been throughout camp, with a few new additions.
Julian Edelman missed his third straight practice with what is believed to be an ankle injury. In addition, Aaron Dobson missed practice for precautionary reasons with a hamstring injury. Also, the team signed two new players, tight end Mason Brodie who stands at 6-7, and tackle Mark Asper. Harlan Gunn was released after only a few days on the roster. Here are my evaluations and observations from Thursday’s practice.
Wide Receivers Emerge Without Edelman: With Julian Edelman now absent for the past three practices, other wide receivers such as Josh Boyce and Chris Harper have had their chances to get quality reps with Tom Brady and the first team offense. For Josh Boyce, many people have written him off for making the roster, but he has impressed so far this camp.
Boyce was targeted multiple times by Brady, and made a nice grab over Logan Ryan at the start of practice. If he can add solid receiving ability to his repertoire along with his kick returning, he could be a solid contributor to the offense.
Chris Harper was a player that for the first time received decent reps with Tom Brady on Thursday. At 5-11, 175 pounds, height is not Harper’s strength, but he can fly. Harper is getting good reps returning kicks and punts. Many believe that he was brought in specifically for this reason. However, on Thursday he showed his down field speed during eleven on eleven drills. Brady targeted him deep, but he lacked the ability to fight for the ball in the air, resulting with a pass breakup from Darryl Roberts.
Travaris Cadet Winning The Battle For Third Down Back: As training camp moves along, we can begin to see who is winning the individual position battles that we focused so heavily on leading into camp. It is probably safe to say that Travaris Cadet is winning the battle for third down running back.
Cadet is not as bulky as I had previously anticipated, but he seems to be the best option in the passing game. When you see him up close he looks like a slot receiver. On Thursday, he made a nice catch down the sideline from Tom Brady. He has shown the ability to run the wheel route very effectively, beating outside linebackers with his speed. Cadet can be used in the slot, much like Shane Vereen. The only question I have concerning him now is his pass blocking ability.
Miscellaneous Notes: Tom Brady took over the majority of the reps on Thursday, going 21 for 28 during eleven on eleven drills, with Garoppolo going 12 for 16 with an interception to Tavon Wilson who has impressed this summer.
Furthermore, Danny Amendola has been getting a lot of good reps with the absence of Julian Edelman. He is breaking free from defenders and making some very impressive catches. It should leave fans with confidence if Edelman were to miss significant time. Edelman is, “day to day” according to head coach Bill Belichick.
Lastly, media reports indicate that Brandon LaFell is walking around without a walking boot.
I will not be attending training camp over the weekend, so stay tuned next week for more updates from camp.