What We Learned from New England Patriots Training Camp, 8/8
Wrapping up a few observations from Wednesday's walk-through, the second joint practice with the New Orleans Saints.
Tom Brady Still Takes Poor Performances Seriously
Tuesday was an average day for Tom Brady. Anyone who knows, follows or covers Brady knows that average just isn't good enough. Good isn't good enough, and sometimes even great isn't good enough.
Brady expects perfection, and on Wednesday, he almost got it.
He started by completing all eight of his passes in seven-on-seven drills, and went an impressive 9-for-10 in 11-on-11 work.
He's one of the fiercest competitors in the game, and that drive showed in his determination to rebound after a less-than-perfect performance on Tuesday.
It's obviously important that Brandon Bolden has looked good at running back in practices up to this point, running with authority and showing burst along with an ability to get to the edge. He also caught passes out of the backfield in team drills, showing some versatility to his game.
But if he wants to improve his chances at ending camp on the roster, one great way to do it is with contributions on special teams. Head coach Bill Belichick indicated Bolden could see some work there, and he got some run with the kickoff coverage unit in Wednesday's practice.
That wasn't the first time we'd seen it, but his continued reps there bode well for his chances at making the roster.
"I think he seems like he’s done a decent job in the areas that we’ve asked him to work in; special teams," Belichick said in a press conference last week. "He can catch the ball, has some skill in the passing game and he had some production in the running game in college. We’ve only seen that in drills, we haven’t seen that really in live competition yet. But based on college, it looked like he can run the ball. Pretty smart guy, can catch [and] can play in the kicking game."
Stew Milne-US PRESSWIRE
The Patriots have two of the league's best tight ends, but with Rob Gronkowski getting much of the limelight, Aaron Hernandez can oftentimes fall under the radar.
Rest assured, he was firmly on the radar Tuesday and Wednesday, giving the Saints defensive backs a fair share of headaches. Whether it was an arching 40-yard spiral from quarterback Tom Brady in a one-on-one drill or making one catch after another in 11-on-11 work, Hernandez has given Brady plenty of reasons to keep looking his way in practice.
That rhythm and rapport should trickle over onto the field when the games matter.
There are a bevy of weapons at Brady's disposal, but it wouldn't surprise me if Hernandez becomes Brady's favorite target this season. He is proving impossible to cover, consistently getting separation and rarely dropping the ball.
The Patriots were widely scrutinized for drafting safety Tavon Wilson in the second round, with many draftniks predicting the Illinois safety would be available in the sixth or seventh round. But the conviction that led the Patriots to select the little-known safety so high has spilled over onto the practice field over the 12 practices thus far.
Wilson has gotten plenty of run with the first-team defense in those practices, and I noted earlier that he got extended time on defense and was spotted chatting with Belichick at one point.
"I think he’s been on a steady course since he got here," Belichick said of Wilson earlier last week. "Tavon works hard. He’s very attentive, he asks good questions, he really pays attention and he’s a hardworking kid, both on and off the field. Steady improvement, long way to go, tough position to play and a tough position to transition into because of all the different things in the passing game and formations and matchups, all those type of things that veteran safeties would recognize—where the advantage of the matchup is to the offense and what we can do about it schematically or what we can do about it in terms of anticipation by formation and so forth. I think he’s coming along."
Wilson has also gotten some run on special teams, contributing on kickoff coverage and on the kickoff return unit. He feels he can contribute there, and from this perspective, his ability and willingness to do so will only help him earn the appreciation of his coaches.
"I just try to do as much as they ask me to do because that kind of opens up some opportunities for you getting on the field," Wilson said. "I just try to go out there and do everything to the best of my ability."
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 obtained first-hand.
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