What We Learned from New England Patriots Training Camp, 7/27

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What We Learned from New England Patriots Training Camp, 7/27
Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE
High five!

Wrapping up some final observations from the Patriots' Friday practice.

 

Tom Brady Still On Point

Brady went 26-of-29 (89.7) on the opening day of practice, and his accuracy was nearly as impressive on Friday. Brady went 28-of-33 (84.8 percent) on the day in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, with a pair of drops skewing that number out of his favor.

Of course, drills are far different than game-time snaps, so let's temper the expectations on Brady completing upwards of 80 percent of his passes every time he takes the field. 

Brady also looked on point when targeting newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, who had a couple of nice catches on deep passes—catches that were made much easier by great location by Brady on the throws.

It wasn't perfect, though, and Brady threw his first interception of training camp on a pass right into the hands of Bobby Carpenter.

 

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Offensive Line Taking Shape

The complexion of the offensive line has been a question mark this offseason, with Matt Light retiring and Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer still not participating in practice.

The early starting offensive line may not be the same as the late starting offensive line, but it's a good place to start.

None of it comes as much of a surprise, with the Patriots fielding their best five offensive linemen regardless of position. 

It will be interesting to see where things end up as injured players rejoin the fold, but thus far we're getting an idea for what things could look like if the Patriots end up in a pinch on the offensive line.

 

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Julian Edelman Came to Play

Time after time, the media tent buzzed over a display of athleticism by wide receiver Julian Edelman, who enters his fourth season with the team.

It started early on in practice, with Edelman consistently getting the better of his competition. He shook rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard out of his shoes, and got the better of Marquice Cole on another play.

Those skills were on display in 7-on-7 work, as well, with Edelman making a difficult catch in the seam against safety Ross Ventrone.

Edelman has his work cut out for him to make an impression in a wide receiver battle that includes a glut of talented veterans, but he won't be rolling over for anyone anytime soon.

 

Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Patriots Learning What They Have in Visanthe Shiancoe

Belichick may not willingly admit to an affinity with tight ends, but he'll willingly admit that he is looking for players who can fill in when his starters go down.

It would depend on what you’re trying to do—what that person’s role is. If their role is strictly to be a backup player and you’re never going to play the guy until the person in front of him gets hurt, then that would probably be good [for him to have a similar skill set to the starter]. But if that wasn’t the case and you were going to use that player in other ways and other combinations with other assignments or utilize his skills, I would say maybe not necessarily, you wouldn’t necessarily want that. It would just depend on what that player’s skills were and how it meshed with the other ones and what your scheme was. 

Stats courtesy Pro Football Focus.
At this point, the Patriots are finding out what exactly his skills and strengths are. He did a variety of things for the Patriots offense on Friday.

Shiancoe's signing is important because has been a versatile tight end throughout his career, playing a combination of roles in the Vikings offense. He will likely be asked to do multiple things in the Patriots offense, which bodes well for his role both as a back-up coming off the bench or as his own individual player.

 

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Secondary Continues to Struggle

The struggles of the secondary were all anyone wanted to talk about in 2011, and those struggles may continue into 2012 if the first two days of camp are any indication.

To be fair, it wasn't all bad; cornerbacks Will Allen and Alfonzo Dennard were each impressive with a pass deflection, and linebacker Bobby Carpenter intercepted a pass as well, but there were some tough spots for the defensive backs.

To be even fairer, it would help if the defense was allowed to hit the quarterback, which would give them a prayer of stopping Brady, one of the league's best pocket passers.

There's still plenty of time to get things right, and it's still far too early to draw concrete conclusions on any particular position group, but the defensive backs as a whole were victimized by one spectacular catch after another.

The Patriots pass-catchers are an outstanding group, so there's nothing to be ashamed of, but Aaron Hernandez, Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker and Edelman all made a spectacular catch at one time or another. If that trend isn't stopped at some point in camp, we could have the same discussions about the secondary we were having last year.

 

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Final Observation

Zoltan Mesko was booming punts all day, and unofficially (iPhone stop-watches aren't considered accurate by the Guinness Book of World Records) clocked hang times ranging from 4.2 to 4.6 seconds. He had his share of corner punts, pinning the returner inside the 5-yard line near the end zone.

Mesko, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan in 2010, enters his third year in the league. He pinned opponents inside the 20 on 19 of his punts as a rookie and 24 in 2011. Unfortunatey, unofficial hang times are not an official stat.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates.

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