Another day, another training camp practice for the New England Patriots. And for the second straight year, Tom Brady didn’t have to do much of anything all morning.
The session was still heavy on competitive team drills, with Brian Hoyer slinging it most of the time. Danny Etling got in there as well. Besides a handful of 1-on-1 drills and some conditioning work, the vast majority of the practice focused on 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
It’s a little harder to tell how players are performing when defenders don’t have to deal with Brady, and when offensive players have Hoyer throwing them the ball. But there were still plenty of things to take away from Friday’s practice. Here’s what we have…
— Absent/PUP: T Marcus Cannon, S Nate Ebner, CB Cyrus Jones, CB Jonathan Jones, OL Jason King, RB Sony Michel, WR Malcolm Mitchell
— WR Kenny Britt returned in full pads to start practice, but eventually took them off and returned in a limited capacity. He appears to be making progress toward a return from his hamstring injury. RB Mike Gillislee shed the non-contact jersey and practiced in full, while rookie CB Keion Crossen also returned in full pads.
— Brady spent some time chatting with Robert Kraft at the far end of the field during his day of rest.
— TE Will Tye made a nice one-handed catch on a throw from Hoyer. He looked to be running through a soft zone defense on the play. He’s made a handful of plays when given the chance, keeping himself alive in the tight end race.
— Rookie LB Christian Sam fell and recovered to break up a quick pass intended for James White by the left sideline. Beyond Kyle Van Noy, who has looked good in coverage in his own right, the Patriots are going to need more linebackers they feel comfortable dropping back into coverage. Sam could fit the bill, but hasn’t had a ton of opportunities so far.
— WR Riley McCarron got separation from rookie CB J.C. Jackson to make a catch down the right sideline. The knock on Jackson coming out of the draft was that he can’t keep up with receivers going deeper down the field. That showed up here.
— TE Jacob Hollister beat both Jackson and undrafted rookie A.J. Moore to the end zone for a deep touchdown catch from Hoyer.
— Special teams ace Matthew Slater appeared to be working on his gunning with long snapper Joe Cardona. Like Britt, he also looks to be making gradual progress toward his own return.
— One of the standout moments from 1-on-1 drills came from Adrian Clayborn, who pushed Isaiah Wynn straight back with ease.
— Clayborn again got the starter’s reps at right defensive end, with Deatrich Wise on the left. Still a long way to go, but Trey Flowers’ status is becoming increasingly important to monitor as training camp progresses.
— J.C. Jackson, Ryan Lewis, and even Jordan Richards got some snaps with the starters at times. Richards made one of the best plays of the day with a leaping interception on a throw from Hoyer intended for Tye.
— Cordarrelle Patterson made yet another highlight-reel play, hauling in a catch with just his left hand as he tumbled to the turf in the end zone. Lewis was in coverage on the play. Patterson has certainly flashed his playmaking, but that’s never been the concern with him. The question is whether he’ll be able to pick up the complexities of the offense and gain Brady’s trust. He’s not out of the woods yet in that regard.
The Patriots get back to work on Saturday, with a relatively early start time of 8:50 a.m.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.