New England Patriots

By Matt Dolloff,

Well then. Just when you thought the talk surrounding Patriots minicamp would be Robert Kraft showing up in a helicopter and the percolating punter battle, Julian Edelman gets popped with a four-game PED suspension. The news might have dropped before Edelman even hit the showers.

So now that Tom Brady’s trusted slot receiver will have to sit out four games to start the 2018 season, the quarterback’s decision whether or not to attend the rest of the Patriots’ organized team activities could take on added significance. He’s going to have to get used to a new slot receiver for the first month of the regular season.

But besides that emerging narrative, there were plenty of other interesting details emerging from the practice field in Foxborough. Here are some leftover observations from the third and final day of Patriots mandatory minicamp:

— Brady was up and down to start the day in the walkthrough portion. Kyle Van Noy picked him off, but he also delivered a nice rainbow to tight end Jacob Hollister down the right sideline.

— Receiver Riley McCarron continued to get reps at receiver and kick returner. He was more of a punt returner at Iowa, but he looks to be second in line for the KR job behind Cordarrelle Patterson. He also caught a couple of passes from Brady in team drills and got work as a punt returner. In light of the Edelman suspension, McCarron could have more of an opportunity to step in and be the slot receiver/punt returner in No. 11’s absence.

— Derek Rivers lined up with the starters during the walkthrough in place of Trey Flowers. The second-year defensive end out of Youngstown State will be one of the keys to the Patriots potentially improving their pass rush in 2018. He and Deatrich Wise Jr. were both able to generate real pressure at times during 11-on-11 drills.

The New England Patriots take the field for mandatory minicamp in Foxborough. (Photo credit: Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

The New England Patriots take the field for mandatory minicamp in Foxborough. (Photo credit: Matt Dolloff/98.5 The Sports Hub)

— The receivers and tight ends participated in an interesting ball security drill early on. Much like a relay race, they formed two lines and ran up and down handing the ball off to each other. Maybe not the most important drill for those positional groups, but good for team-building.

— Robert Kraft did indeed show up to practice in a helicopter. It landed right on the lower field. Based on the reactions of veteran reporters in attendance, it was a rare sight – if not unprecedented.

— Ivan Fears sounded pleased with the way the running backs performed in passing drills with Brady and … Nick Caserio throwing them the ball. Undrafted rookie Ralph Webb continues to get solid work along with the others. James White and Rex Burkhead continue to lead the way in that department.

— Josh McDaniels put in some time with the running backs, working with them on deep passing drills. There appeared to be an emphasis on being in sync with the quarterback and making decisions based on their position on the field.

— Keeping in line with the team’s use of officials and down markers in 11-on-11s, the offense got called for an illegal substitution at one point. Bill Belichick made them run a lap, then gathered everyone for a huddle and a stern talking-to. Safety Damarius Travis also got flagged for pass interference.

— No, really, the punter battle is legit. Undrafted rookie Corey Bojorquez is giving Ryan Allen a run, at one point booming it for what looked like about 70 yards. Allen immediately followed that with a shorter wobbler, but both punters looked fine overall. This battle could last well into training camp.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 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