Some quick thoughts from Wednesday’s practice that aren’t related to Tom Brady’s knee.
First though, a note that Brandon Spikes was a full participant in practice after missing Tuesday for an undisclosed reason.
1. New England was clearly the better team
In both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, the Patriots first team offense and defense clearly outplayed the Bucs.
2. Josh Freeman looked awful
The biggest disparity in the drills came at quarterback, where Freeman took forever to get rid of the ball and made countless poor decisions. Freeman wasn’t necessarily inaccurate with his throws, he just repeatedly threw to guys who were covered.
Take this 11-on-11 drive for instance:
1st down: Freeman throws easy interception that Steve Gregory lets bounce off his hands.
2nd down: Freeman incomplete to Vincent Jackson
3rd down: Gregory drops another easy interception
4th down: Vincent Jackson burns Kyle Arrington and is wide open for a touchdown downfield but Freeman severely underthrows him and Arrington breaks up the play
3. Tampa Bay spends a lot of time on tackling fundamentals
Before the teams practiced against each other they ran through drills separately. During Tampa’s warm ups, the Bucs were grouped by position and rotated through five stations, each of which emphasized a different aspect of form tackling: getting the helmet in front of the ball carrier, wrapping up with the arms, driving up with the hips and stripping the ball loose.
4. Impressive day for Marquice Cole
Cole was all over the Bucs in 7-on-7 drills, showing great quickness and physicality against the huge Tampa receivers. (Tampa’s smallest receiver is Kevin Ogletree, listed at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. ) He finished with a handful of interceptions and passes defensed, including a pick in the end zone on a Josh Freeman pass to Vincent Jackson.
5. Sudfeld inconsistent
The 6-foot-7 rookie got a lot of attention from all three of the Pats’ QB’s in 11-on-11 drills. He brought down a few touchdowns but was also called for a pass interference in the end zone and let at least three catchable balls go through his hands.
After one such play over the middle, Brady immediately went back to Sudfeld and connected on a touchdown in the corner of the end zone.
6. Tommy Kelly banged up
In the final few minutes of practice, Kelly got held by running back Peyton Hillis on a stunt and their arms appeared to get tangled. After the play, Kelly took hunched over clutching his right arm and left the field. He was seen stretching his shoulder on the sideline.
7. Receivers looked good
Julian Edelman got a lot of attention from Brady and Tebow and looked like he was back in form after missing much of training camp.
Aaron Dobson made a few impressive catches over Bucs defensive backs and Kenbrell Thompkins continued to find ways to get open and make plays. He also didn’t have any of the drops he did earlier in camp.
8. Tough day for Brandon Jones
The rookie cornerback out of Rutgers was routinely burned by Tampa receivers in 11-on-11 drills and was visibly frustrated, at one point punching the goal post pad and screaming after getting beat for a touchdown.
9. No major fights
There were a few small skirmishes but nothing that lasted very long. Bucs cornerback Mike Adams got in a shoving match with a Patriots player after they went to the ground together on a punt return drill. Bucs receiver Mike Williams got into another, smaller shoving match with two Patriots defensive backs but that was broken up even faster than the first.
10. No leg up in punter competition
Zoltan Mesko and Ryan Allen both performed reasonably well in windy conditions today. Mesko dropped a bad-but-still-catchable-snap and Allen got a punt attempt blocked but neither player was really at fault. If the competition remains this close, Allen will likely get the edge given that the Patriots would save nearly $1 million against the salary cap by going with the rookie