— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Tom Brady’s frustration boiled over during practice for the New England Patriots on Monday. Angered over his latest incompletion, Brady asked for the football back, then promptly punted it straight into the bleachers. It was the culmination of a practice marred by drops, miscues, and a few errant throws from the quarterback.
Especially the drops.
Perhaps the most culpable for the sloppy receiver play during Monday’s training camp practice was the newly acquired Eric Decker, who continues to have an up-and-down summer in an abbreviated camp. The 31-year-old has an edge in terms of NFL experience over almost every other Patriots receiver. But that won’t matter if he can’t hold on to the ball.
“There’s no excuses for it,” Decker told reporters after practice. “It’s something I’ve obviously got to address and that’s something you work through. In my mind, that’s why God created practice. It’s just to be able to get better and try to flush that out.
“But my job is to catch the football, so I’ve got to do better in that field.”
Decker did reel in a few passes from Brady, including a particularly good-looking throw-and-catch over cornerback Jonathan Jones. But he also had at least one drop in 11-on-11 and 1-on-1 drills, and even lost one in a side session with Brady.
He admitted that, as he gets up to speed with the Patriots’ system, he’s over-thinking things a little bit right now.
“It’s hard not to,” Decker said. “This is a complex offense. There’s a lot asked upon you as a skill player.”
Decker realizes there’s not much else he can do besides continue to work at it.
“Getting in the playbook, just rehearsing it, getting on the field, getting reps, walkthrough, and live action helps slow things down and try to take the thinking out of it and just play ball again,” he continued.
Decker wasn’t alone. Even Rob Gronkowski had a drop. Phillip Dorsett allowed an interception to rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson.
It was ultimately just one, hopefully isolated off day for Brady, Decker, and the Patriots. But it was also an indication that the unit still has plenty of work to do to get in the rhythm they need. Fortunately, there’s still over three weeks to figure that out.
Whether Decker’s still here at that time depends on whether he can hold on to the ball with more consistency.
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.