Tuesday, August 5, 2014

After chippy first practice, Redskins and Patriots ready to rumble again

One thing that the New England Patriots' beat writers should be well conscious of by now, is that generalizations - i.e., sensational headlines with no visible means of support - can get the fanbase all worked up in a blink of an eye.

So it comes as no surprise that when several writers tweeted on Monday morning that tight end Rob Gronkowski was not spotted on the practice field when his Patriots' teammates began three days of joint practices with the Washington Redskins at their training camp facilities in Richmond, Virginia, the collective blood pressure of the six New England states rose to dangerous levels.
Is Brian Tyms really just a camp body?

After all, the health status on Gronkowski has been intensely monitored by every loyal Patriots' fan for the past two years - most waiting for the inevitable headline that Gronk has suffered another season-ending injury, causing the entire 2014 to go up in smoke before it even begins...

...and it takes only a minimal amount of common sense to ascertain that Gronkowski, who has been limited in practice coming back from last season's ACL tear, would be kept behind in Foxborough to avoid any possibility or temptation to throw him into the mix and risk the aforementioned inevitability.

But page views are page views, and if the public panics because of a misinformed or misleading headline, well, it wouldn't the the first time...

Gronk stays behind, Bolden too:

It is no surprise that All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski was kenneled by the team and didn't make the trip to Virginia, as he would have been limited in practices and certainly would not be playing in Thursday night's preseason opener - and after the furor over the headlines died down and we were all assured that Gronk was safe at home, the only question left is why roster-bubble running back Brandon Bolden didn't make the trip to Richmond.

Is he injured?  No one is saying, but for Bolden not to make the trip otherwise is perhaps an ominous sign - but since there is no information available, we should digress until there is.  For sure, the Patriots' backfield is loaded with talent even with Bolden not on the field, and they showed just a flash of their overall potential, which is enormous.

Jones, Williams impress:

With Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui on the shelf for this practice, both veteran tight end D. J. Williams and rookie Justin Jones made the most of their frequent reps - and along with H-back James Develin even had someone-on-one time with quarterback Tom Brady.

Jones made a Gronk-esque grab of a Jimmy Garoppolo shorty, reaching behind and gathering in the ball with the seam collapsing around him - a veteran move from an intriguing rookie.

Thompkins, Browner getting chippy, but with other people this time:

Ok, it is really just Brandon Browner punking Kenbrell Thompkins, or does the second year undrafted free agent have something to do with initiating dust ups in practice?  The apparently feisty receiver got into a schoolyard shoving match with Redskins' corner DeAngelo Hall on Monday.

It was a tough day for Hall as well, as he was burned repeatedly by Brady and his weird collection of receiving talent, and got hit in the mouth a couple of times in run support.

Redskins receivers were not happy with Big Bad Bully Brandon Browner pushing them all over the playground, and complained that there was significant contact and some holding going on beyond the five yard back alley - and even some words between Browner and Pierre Garcon on the sidelines, while slot receiver Andre Roberts took exception to Arrington's aggressiveness and they threw a few colorful metaphors around.

One of the major storylines going into Tuesday's joint practice is how the Redskins' receivers respond the the physical licking put on them in Monday's session.

Edelman on a different level:

Some guys get the free agent pay raise and just mail it in, but Julian Edelman has apparently taken his game to a whole new level, and he is the unmitigated offensive star of camp thus far.  The way the Patriots are set up, in theory they are not going to need another 100-plus catch season out of "Minitron", but it's nice to know that he is certainly capable of it.

He gave Darrelle Revis a run for his money in training camp and gave as good as he got - and that's saying something, so when Edelman took the field against the Redskins this morning, he was a man among boys as he shredded the Washington secondary.

How much are they paying that guy?

Mayock says Mallett is the real deal:

Which, according to witnesses on the scene, is a crock of cow cookies.
Brady runs the offense with cold efficiency

The arm strength is certainly there, and always has been - but his accuracy and touch are nowhere near consistent enough.  Of course, no one noticed until Mayock opened his mouth - and now every arm-chair analyst in New England is going to be picking his game apart, and what they find when they get to the center of that tootsie pop will elicit the same emotion as it has for the past three seasons:

Sincere and utter anxiety.

The argument about whether or not Tom Brady is a system quarterback is antiquated, but the fact that Mallett just doesn't quite seem to be able to put his game together within the system is compelling.  It takes more than just a strong arm that can make a bucket throw every now and then, it takes a presence on the field, and if it really were the system that made Brady great, it goes to figure that it should do the same for Mallett after three years...

Brian Tyms not just a camp body?:

To know Tyms story is to know heartache, but also perseverance.  He spent the majority of his childhood bouncing from one foster home to another, and although he finally found a permanent home at 12 years old, the pain of being abused and neglected by his biological parents never goes away - but there are really only two outcomes, either you blame your life on your childhood and sink or rise above it and swim.

Tyms is on his fourth team in two seasons and has impressed in brief stops in San Francisco, Miami and Cleveland, but only to the tune of two career catches.  His 6' 3" frame, long arms and 4.3 speed are intriguing and his story fascinating, but running the right routes and catching the football is what adheres one to Belichick's and Brady's heart, and he has been doing plenty of that in his short time with the team.

"I've had everything that can possibly happen to a kid happen, and I've made it," Tyms said. "Find something positive that you enjoy and go for it. I used to write down all the negatives people said about me on a piece of paper and before I go workout, or before I do anything I'd read it. I'd think about how I felt, and I'd use that anger as fuel. Life is about proving people wrong and that's what I'm doing."

At the very least, the kid with the great concentration and soft hands is worth keeping an eye on throughout these sessions and on Thursday night.

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