Tom E. Curran

Patriots training camp observations: Injuries abound in first padded practice

Tom E. Curran shares the biggest takeaways from Monday's practice in Foxboro.

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FOXBORO -- The first day of full-contact and full pads at Patriots training camp saw the team wind up the day with less than a full complement of players.

When practice began, Matthew Judon and Trent Brown were on the rehab field working on individual conditioning. They were joined by Rhamondre Stevenson when the full-contact team activities began.

And that’s when second-year right guard Cole Strange went down. Locked up in a seemingly harmless rep with Lawrence Guy, Strange hit the deck looking at his left knee. For the next 10-to-15 minutes, it seemed bleak.

But Strange eventually emerged from the training shed and took some individual reps on his own, firing out of his stance with no apparent limitations. He was held out for the remainder of practice.

The offensive line adversity kept up when Chasen Hines, a sixth-round pick from LSU last year, also wound up in the shed with an ailment.

With Brown and Strange down on Monday and left guard Michael Onwenu already sidelined after offseason surgery, the Patriots were running with a patchwork group in front of Mac Jones that included Conor McDermott at left tackle, Bill Murray at left guard, David Andrews at center, rookie fifth-rounder Atonio Mafi at right guard and Riley Reiff at left tackle.

It wasn’t ideal for the Patriots as they tried to work extensively on both the running game and screen game. Offensive line wasn’t the only depleted spot. Without Stevenson and Ty Montgomery (injured last Thursday), the running back crew was down bodies. Second-year back Kevin Harris had a big load to carry.

That development may put the Patriots' pursuit of a veteran running back into overdrive.

There were indications in post-practice player interviews that Tuesday will be a non-padded practice.

What they wore

The Patriots were in full pads after four practices in five days in shorts, helmets and shell shoulder pads. Bill Belichick AGAIN with the red cut-sleeve hoodie.

Who was there?

In addition to the aforementioned group, the following players were unavailable: OT Calvin Anderson (non-football injury list), ST Cody Davis (PUP list), OL Jake Andrews and LB Terez Hall.

Wide receivers Jalen Hurd and Scottie Washington also stopped by the medical tent. Defensive back Brad Hawkins tweaked his lower leg during an 11-on-11 drill but was back on the field soon after.

What they did

Bill Belichick got to the field behind schedule for his 9:15 a.m. media availability but the team kicked into practice around 9:40. The first 45 minutes were devoted to positional drills, stretching and light cardio.

At 10:27 a.m., the team began 7-on-7 work for the skill position starters on one field while on the neighboring field, the offensive and defensive line worked on half-speed run game "fits."

At 10:45, the team pivoted briefly and worked on punt returns. After that, it was back to 11-on-11 with a focus on running game in the high red zone then from the goal line.

At 11:30 a.m., the team adjourned to the conditioning hill and did sprints before chasing that with a post-practice cool-down.

Of particular note

  • Joe Judge spent the early portion of the individual period working with Raleigh Webb and Pierre Strong on perfecting punt-coverage releases.
  • Rookie punter Bryce Baringer hit some damn moonshots on Monday. The young fella gets ALLLLL of it. Meanwhile, Corliss Waitman -- the veteran left-footed punter -- was not far behind Baringer in terms of the boom.
  • Bill Belichick spent a chunk of time with head trainer Jim Whalen at the start of practice, presumably getting an availability rundown after Sunday’s day off.
  • The first 7-on-7 session for the starters featured a ton of screen work. Rookie Demario "Pop" Douglas continued his string of impressive days both receiving and getting out and delivering blocks on the perimeter. Bill Belichick watched that entire session.
  • Rookie Marte Mapu continues to mix in with the starters at the linebacker level even though he’s still in a red non-contact jersey.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mac Jones had another blemish-free day working together. It will get harder, but so far everything’s been positive in terms of participation and production.
  • Third-year defensive lineman Christian Barmore moves offensive linemen out of his way with ridiculous ease.
  • There’s screaming. There’s screaming at the top of your lungs. And then there’s the screaming of special teams coach Cam Achord, which seems impossibly loud for such a small human.
  • Marcus Jones, Pierre Strong, Douglas and Myles Bryant were among those fielding punts.
  • Deatrich Wise earned himself a lap with an encroachment penalty.
  • Kevin Harris got a whole heap of work at running back and had a mostly positive day.
  • There were a few early plays in the running game which ended with players scattered on the ground. It’s not supposed to look like that. Even though it’s full contact, coaches want players to let up before people topple because that’s when ankles get rolled on and knees twist. Belichick seemed to remind his players of that before a goal-line sequence started.
  • Linebacker Jahlani Tavai took reps at fullback in front of Kevin Harris.

Tuesday’s practice kicks off at 9:45 a.m.

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