- Mike Reiss, ESPN New England Patriots reporter
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(Every day at training camp, we'll recap the day with a final blog post.)
Top storyline: The Patriots and Eagles practiced together for about 2 hours, 30 minutes in full pads and quarterback Tom Brady was the star of the show. The competition level increased and so did Brady's performance. His accuracy, decision-making and overall command had many in attendance buzzing. Brady was mostly smiles afterward, telling ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that it was one of the team's best practices of training camp. The rundown of what the teams worked on was detailed by ESPNBoston's Field Yates.
Injured players stay behind: On the injury front, the same players that have been sidelined in recent days remained out, making it highly unlikely that they will be available for Friday night's preseason opener. The injured players are cornerback Ras-I Dowling; receivers Michael Jenkins and Mark Harrison; safety Nate Ebner; offensive linemen Dan Connolly, Marcus Cannon, Tyronne Green, Markus Zusevics and Kevin Haslam; tight end Rob Gronkowski; defensive tackle Armond Armstead and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham. The offensive line is the thinnest spot right now, which has tackle Will Svitek lining up at right guard with the first unit.
Dobson gets in scrap with Williams: Rookie receiver Aaron Dobson was blocking cornerback Cary Williams on a running play in 11-on-11 work when it appeared Williams took exception. Williams then raised his hands toward Dobson's helmet and there was some pushing while officials were blowing their whistles and players from both teams created a mini-scrum that was extinguished quickly. Dobson and Williams were held out of the rest of practice, which Eagles coach Chip Kelly explained was something he had agreed upon with Bill Belichick beforehand. "That was one thing we agreed upon; we didn't want this to turn into a wrestling match. Both of our squads knew before it happened. If you're going to get in a skirmish, you're going to sit," Kelly said. That was a tough break for Dobson, who didn't appear to be doing anything but carrying out his assignment.
Brady on young receivers: A picture is starting to come into focus when it comes to some of the Patriots' rookies and their potential contributions, as Brady lauded some of them. "I'm proud of all those young players; we've thrown a lot of stuff at them. It's not like we're backing off because that's not the way our offense is; we've got to keep putting the pressure on everybody, whether it's Aaron [Dobson] or Josh [Boyce] or KT [Kenbrell Thompkins] or [tight end] Zach Sudfeld," Brady said. Take note of the names Brady mentioned -- those are the young pass-catchers who have elevated themselves at this point. Dobson and Boyce were expected, while Thompkins and Sudfeld have been surprises.
Limited work for Tebow: Compared to previous practices, Tim Tebow didn't take as many reps. In 7-on-7 work in the red zone, he stepped in after Brady and Ryan Mallett and fired a touchdown pass to tight end Jake Ballard before throwing low to receiver Kamar Aiken for an incompletion. Tebow met with reporters after practice, and as usually has been the case, he drew a big crowd. "Every day, every meeting, I'm learning more and understanding more, just trying to gain ground with the offense and everything I'm working on," he said. Tebow also was asked about former University of Florida teammate Riley Cooper. "I haven't got to see him yet today," Tebow said. "I'm sure I will see him soon. I was definitely praying for him."
Rookie report: Dobson had the catch of the day, a one-handed grab from Brady. ... Thompkins drew raves from NFL Network analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Mike Mayock. ... Sudfeld caught a 20-yard touchdown on a seam route from Brady. ... Cornerback Logan Ryan was involved in a coverage breakdown that could have been more tied to safety Tavon Wilson, as the Patriots gave up a long-bomb touchdown down the right sideline. Wilson's depth at safety seemed to be an issue.
Quote of note: "I think it was a really good thing. We'd like to continue it. I think when you get someone like Coach Belichick, we spend a lot of time putting it together and he talked to me about it at the combine. So I think it worked out perfectly what he wanted to get out of it and what we wanted to get out of it." -- Eagles coach Chip Kelly.
Summing it up: The big national story was receiver Riley Cooper's return to the Eagles, so in a sense, it was a nice change-up for the Patriots to be able to fly a bit under the radar. Great practice in full pads. High tempo. Brady at his best. A real treat to watch, with a cheesesteak from Tony Luke's to cap it off. Looking forward to doing it again tomorrow (12:30 p.m. ET).
(Every day at training camp, we'll recap the day with a final blog post.)Top storyline: The Patriots and Eagles practiced together for about 2 hours, 30 minutes in full pads and quarterback Tom Brady was the star of the show.