Tom E. Curran

Patriots training camp observations: Christian Gonzalez looks good early

Here's what caught Tom E. Curran's eye during Day 2 of Patriots camp in Foxboro.

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FOXBORO -- Day 3 of New England Patriots training camp is complete. Here's everything you need to know about Friday's practice on the fields outside Gillette Stadium.

What they wore

We had an outfit change! Nothing drastic but after two days in helmets, shorts and practice jerseys the team added mini shoulder pads (commonly referred to as shells) on this third day of non-contact work.

The sun was out and the heat was up in the high-80s with humidity. The Patriots once again pushed past the two-hour mark with the workout, which began at 9:30 a.m. Bill Belichick AGAIN wore the red hoodie with cutoff sleeves during this final practice of the week.

Saturday is a scheduled day off. The team is most likely going to be in full pads for the first time on Monday.

Who was there?

To begin with, a whole mess of fans were there. This was by far the biggest contingent of the week.

On the field, running back Ty Montgomery was not present after getting dinged Thursday twisting for a pass and banging into linebacker Terez Hall. Hall was limited in practice on Friday.

Rhamondre Stevenson returned to the field after being out Thursday. Christian Barmore welcomed a child and was also missing from practice.

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The same guys absent the first two days – OT Calvin Anderson (non-football injury list), OG Mike Onwenu (physically unable to perform list) and special teamer Cody Davis (PUP) – all remained sidelined.

Meanwhile, edge rusher Matthew Judon took part in team drills on a limited basis for the first time during camp. We talked at length with Judon after practice as speculation rose that he may be staging a pseudo-“hold in”. Judon acknowledged the ever-escalating market for players at his position but added that he’s working with the training staff on conditioning and seemed to indicate that while he’d like a bump, all is amicable and he’s not withholding services.

Safeties coach Brian Belichick hasn’t been seen so far during camp either.

What they did

This workout was very similar to Thursday’s, with about an hour of individual, position drills and special teams.

After that, they pivoted into 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 red zone work. The end of practice consisted of kickoff, field goals and sprints. Mac Jones and a number of other players worked late after practice on individual skills.

Of particular note

  • Conor McDermott was elevated to the lead right tackle spot, replacing veteran Riley Reiff. McDermott, who was really pretty good down the stretch last season after sputtering performances at the spot by Isaiah Wynn and Yodny Cajuste, seemed to hold up pretty well. Reiff’s been a little heavy-footed in the early practices and got dusted a few times by speed merchant Josh Uche. The drop to the second team didn’t help. On consecutive plays, Reiff was beaten with ease by Anfernee Jennings and Keion White coming off the edge.
  • The “adversity throws” the team ran on Thursday were back in action for a period. Quarterbacks without gloves throwing a freshly-soaked football while being whacked with a cushion were zipping the ball to gloveless receivers who were bonked with a pad just after the catch. Most guys made it through fine. Tyquan Thornton and corner Jack Jones (the CBs worked in too) both had balls slide through.
  • Corner Jonathan Jones was a menace in the competitive period. He had a handful of pass breakups and punch-outs through the hands of receivers. He’s been working as the lead outside corner on the left while rookie Christian Gonzalez has been on the right.
  • Gonzalez had back-to-back pass disruptions on fades and may have allowed just one reception during all the competitive period. In addition to his effortless athleticism and length, he’s very smooth on passing off receivers and understanding rules when he’s picked. At least so far. Gonzalez has been mostly lined up on the right side of the defense. He also traveled into the slot for a couple of reps on Friday.
  • Underwhelming so far would be the best word to describe the output of Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton and Mike Gesicki. None of them have a single catch in three practices during 11-on-11 drills.
  • Is it early? Yes. Is it eye-opening that the ball hasn’t found any of them a single time? Also, yes. Next week, when the team presumably moves away from the cozy confines of the red zone and there’s more room to roam, there should be easier throws. If they are still dead silent as a trio, eye-opening would give way to disturbing.
  • The Patriots are off on Saturday then back at it again Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
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