Day three of Patriots training camp was the first day in pads for the team and there were also a few fresh faces on the practice field. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley practiced for the first time and running back LeGarrette Blount was on the field for the first time this camp, evidence that he passed his conditioning test sometime within the past day. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower was wearing a red “no contact” jersey as he works his way back from offseason surgery.
The Patriots focused on special teams at several points. The kickoff team took the field at two separate points in practice and coach Bill Belichick concluded practice by having the field goal unit practice in full. Belichick also worked with punter Ryan Allen during practice.
Defensively, Logan Ryan and Jamie Collins stood out. Collins forced a fumble when he plastered Aaron Dobson during 11 on 11 drills, causing the offense to take a lap. Ryan had several impressive pass break ups in positional drills and 11 on 11 work. JaBaal Sheard also had some strong plays and rookie Trey Flowers looked explosive coming off the line during pass rushing drills. Malcolm Butler is looking like a player who is poised to start this season; he had several impressive plays and was a vocal member of the secondary. Rookie Malcom Brown also had a goal line stop during full team work.
Blount’s first practice was a good one as he showed his trademark physicality as well as good quickness and elusiveness. Dobson asserted himself on several occasions despite the fumble including a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone during drills and an impressive grab over rookie Darryl Roberts during 11 on 11s. As has occurred in the past, assistant coaches held large paddles up in front of the quarterbacks during drills to simulate long-armed defensive linemen with their hands up. Scott Chandler continues to show that he can be a great complement to Rob Gronkowski at tight end.
With it only being the third practice of camp and the first one in pads, much has yet to be determined for the 2015 Patriots. One thing that Patriots fans will be happy to hear is there appears to be no Super Bowl hangover in Foxboro. At this stage, health is the biggest thing and the Patriots are still working some key players back.