Wrapping up the New England Patriots' Sunday practice session, the team's second consecutive padded practice.
Brandon Bolden Making Bold Impression
Running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen have been under a watchful eye for much of the early part of training camp, but it's become difficult not to notice undrafted free agent Brandon Bolden. The Ole Miss product has jumped off the page with his speed, athleticism and vision.
He continues to find the edge with ease, getting outside before any of the defenders can have much to say about it.
He even caught a few passes out of the backfield in 11-on-11 drills, and he had a touchdown in goal-line drills near the end of camp. It's still early in camp, but Bolden has outshone most of the other backs on the roster and could figure into the plans for some preseason games as the Patriots try to find out what they have in their rookie running back.
Catching Up With Trevor Scott
Trevor Scott showed a ton of promise in Oakland with 12 sacks in his first two years, but after an ACL injury ended his 2010 season just beyond the halfway mark, he had a hard time getting fully healthy for 2011, and his play suffered for it.
Consider 2012 something of a fresh start for the still-young defensive end.
"It's definitely a restart in a sense of I'm on a new team," said Scott. "Like you said, I did tear my ACL, and that's just part of the game. And I've been working hard to get back, and I'm glad to be back."
Scott has been through a lot of change over the years, with several different defensive coordinators pulling the strings in Oakland. Now with the Patriots, Scott indicates that the installation of the defensive scheme has him excited.
"I like it a lot," said Scott. "I think we're coming together as a unit, and like I said, we're just getting better everyday."
During that program, and continuing into the beginning of training camp, Scott has displayed his abilities as a pass-rusher. That will be a coveted skill as the Patriots try to replace the 10 sacks left behind by Mark Anderson and a potential 10 more left behind by Andre Carter if he doesn't rejoin the team.
Rob Gronkowski Struggles
It was hard to ignore Rob Gronkowski's two drops during the Patriots' Sunday practice, as each came with a consequence. The first was a pass that bounced out of Gronkowski's hands and into the waiting hands of safety Patrick Chung. The second took place in the end zone during goal-line drills.
It was a bit of a surprise, as well, since the All-Pro tight end is typically so sure-handed. He also struggled blocking, though, which is another strong part of his game. He lost matchups to Trevor Scott and Jake Bequette, both of whom beat Gronkowski with relative ease.
Let's not get too carried away on Gronkowski just yet; it's only been four days of training camp, so there's plenty of time for him to set things straight.
Love what I'm seeing from the defensive front all around; they've dominated pass-rush drills and have done solid work in 11-on-11 work as well.
How much of that is a product of their stellar play as opposed to the absence of some of the Patriots best offensive linemen? We'll find out when the Patriots get those linemen back.
Some names that have stood out to me the past three days: defensive ends Jermaine Cunningham, Chandler Jones and Trevor Scott, defensive tackles Justin Francis and Ron Brace.
Cunningham and Brace are the names that would draw some eyebrow-raises among Patriots fans, but Cunningham was also among those honored as a top offseason performer. Bedard points out that Brace is participating in his first first week of practice in what is his fourth preseason in the NFL.
Thanks for great interactions and helping hands this weekend: Tom E. Curran of CSNNE.com, Christopher Price of WEEI.com, Mike Reiss and Field Yates of ESPN Boston, Bedard and Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe and Nick Underhill of The Republican. You all, as well as the Patriots PR staff of Stacey James and others, made me feel incredibly welcome this weekend.
Thanks for everything. I'll be back at Patriots camp on Thursday, August 2 with more updates.
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. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained first-hand.
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