Just one more training camp practice will be open to the public for the New England Patriots in Foxboro. From there, they’ll hit the road for the final two preseason games and begin cutting down the roster from 90 to 75, then from 75 to 53.
With a “Super Bowl rematch” on the horizon against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, there should still be plenty for the Patriots – especially Tom Brady and the offense – to work on while we can still watch from afar. Brady and his pass-catchers didn’t have their best day on Monday, so they’ll almost have to look better on Tuesday.
With that in mind, here’s a quick look at what we’ll be watching for at the final open practice of training camp…
— Is the offense on point? Nobody was more upset with the performance of the offense on Monday than Brady, who eventually asked for the ball before punting it into the bleachers. Much like the Patriots tend to follow up poor games with great ones the following week, Brady and the offense should look much better on Tuesday. That especially goes for the guys catching the ball, who dropped the ball left and right on Monday. No built-in excuses this time, either, with clear, sunny weather expected for practice.
— How does Eric Decker look? There’s no reason to worry about the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, or James White’s ability to perform in this offense. But Decker was understandably hard on himself after Monday’s practice, refusing to make excuses for a day that included multiple mistakes. He’ll have a chance to make the team as long as the bottom of the Patriots’ receiver depth chart is unsettled, but he’ll need to start stepping up more consistently to set himself apart. Starting on Tuesday.
— More first-team reps for Ja’Whaun Bentley? The rookie is quickly making strides in his first NFL training camp, which is a good sign for the Patriots’ linebacking corps. He’s impressed everyone from the coaches to new mentor Dont’a Hightower, and he’s starting to get some looks with the starting defense in team drills. It’ll be interesting to see how they mix him in on Tuesday.
— Any progress for injured players? Rex Burkhead, Marcus Cannon, and Sony Michel continue to be absent altogether from practices. Kenny Britt, meanwhile, continues to make gradual progress toward a full workload. Cornerbacks Duke Dawson and Ryan Lewis have joined the group of limited players, which also includes Trey Flowers. It’s not particularly that likely any of these guys suit up on Thursday, but an increased workload on Tuesday would point toward imminent returns.
One final practice report coming later on Tuesday.
— 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.