By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
One day after Tom Brady looked as sharp as he possibly could in a practice setting, Wednesday’s Patriots practice tilted a bit back toward the defense. Day two of mandatory minicamp is in the books, and you can score one for the guys without the ball.
Overall, the session had a less intense feel than Brady and Rob Gronkowski’s returns on Tuesday. But at the same time, the two-minute drills felt more like training camp as Belichick blasted Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Ozzy Osbourne, and Aerosmith while Brady and Brian Hoyer ran the first and second team offenses.
But throughout the day, the defense stepped up to make more plays on the ball. Most of Brady’s incompletions on day one were closer to drops than off throws. The secondary, especially, looked much better on Wednesday than it did on Tuesday, when it looked like it had no answer for Brady’s passing.
Here are plenty more thoughts and observations from Wednesday’s second day of Patriots minicamp:
— Tom Brady wasn’t quite as sharp as he was on Tuesday, but at the same time he dealt with a better performance from the defense. His highlights included a touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski in the corner of the end zone that resembled his second touchdown in Super Bowl LII, and a pretty-looking wheel route to James White deep down the right sideline.
— Still no noticeable interactions between Brady and Bill Belichick, at least not once the team drills ramped up. It could mean nothing at all and it wasn’t exactly something to worry about after Tuesday. Two days in a row, however, seems a bit odd that the head coach and No. 1 quarterback don’t appear to be communicating on the field. But at the end of the day, they’re both the best at their respective positions and maybe they just don’t need to be communicating much during practice.
— The secondary made plays left and right. Pass breakups for Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung (in the red zone), Duron Harmon, rookie cornerback Duke Dawson, and second-year cornerback Ryan Lewis, who signed a futures contract with the Patriots in February.
— There was also an interception in 11-on-11 drills by … Jordan Richards? Hoyer was the one throwing the ball, though. It was a bad throw and even worse decision in that situation.
— Second-year safety Damarius Travis covered undrafted rookie running back Ralph Webb well on a wheel route. Bill Belichick sounded particularly pleased with Travis’ coverage on the play.
— Plays were made up front, too. Dont’a Hightower tipped a Brady pass, which nearly landed in the hands of a diving Trey Flowers. Second-year defensive end Deatrich Wise forced a fumble against rookie tight end Ryan Izzo with help from Derek Rivers, and also got through the left side of the Patriots’ offensive line during 11-on-11 drills.
— Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn were again the primary left tackle and left guard before team drills got underway, with David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and LaAdrian Waddle filling out the rest of the O-line. But after struggling early in team blocking drills, Dante Scarnecchia did not look happy. Free-agent signing Matt Tobin and Ted Karras got more action at LT and LG during drills.
— Second-year tight end Jacob Hollister was a full go after being absent on Tuesday. He turned heads with a nice catch down the seam from Brady, and made another over the middle as Harmon held him. The latter play drew audible praise from Brady.
— The Patriots had officials working late in 11-on-11s. Bill Belichick emphasized handing the football to the officials after plays, at one point making Chris Hogan do so before moving on to the next play. Speaks to the head coach’s attention to detail and the importance of preparing for real in-game situations.
— Rookie first-round running back Sony Michel worked with the special teams units while the rest of the RBs went through ball security drills. That does not necessarily mean the Pats are viewing Michel as a special teams player. It could mean that ball security and footwork aren’t major concerns with the 31st overall pick. It could also speak to their confidence in his blocking ability that Michel is getting primary special teams reps right out of the gate. It was just striking to see him away from his positional group in that moment.
— Kenny Britt was absent after appearing to tweak his hamstring on Tuesday. Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Jordan Matthews, and Cordarrelle Patterson continued to get plenty of work with the offense. Patterson continues to stand out as a player who will have a legitimate opportunity to contribute offensively. This doesn’t exactly bode well for Britt if he can’t stay on the field. And it’s also a concern for third-year WR Malcolm Mitchell, who was absent for the second straight day.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.