It wasn’t the most eventful or exciting day of mini-camp, but it was certainly a chance for some of the new guys to get their chance.
The biggest story of the day was the presence of tight end David Thomas. Thomas is going into his third season in 2008, after making only catch in 2007, a season that limited him to two games due to a foot injury. He certainly didn’t look spectacular, as he was just getting the rust off, but it was good to see him out there nonetheless. If the Patriots have a healthy David Thomas, the passing game becomes that much more potent, because he has a nice combination of hands and speed for a tight end.
Also making a slightly unexpected appearance was cornerback Mike Richardson. I was really high on Richardson during 2007 training camp, as I thought he was a more physical presence at cornerback who could make good breaks on the ball. And although it was really nice to see him get out there, he really seemed to struggle. He looked slow, shaky, and wasn’t making good breaks on the ball. Although, we can’t write a verdict yet, as this is his first time back on the field, so the rust is obviously there.
Also making an appearance were two of the young quarterbacks, Matt Gutierrez and Kevin O’Connell. Gutierrez continued to put zip on the ball, and looks more consistent than ever. O’Connell continued his inconsistencies, but seems to be getting more comfortable under center, and shows the ability to make every NFL throw.
The receiving group at the camp was really interesting. C.J. Jones was there, and he looked like the best of the group. Sam Aiken, signed earlier this offseason, was also there, but he looked a little shaky on the offensive side. At one point, he dropped an O’Connell pass that landed smack in the center of his chest. Robert Ortiz looked okay, from what I can gather. Ray Ventrone and Matt Slater, two hybrid offensive/defensive guys, got some time at receiver. Ventrone played all offense, and really seemed to struggle. He’s got some speed and agility, but it’s clear he’s never played receiver at a high level. Slater continued to look decent at receiver, as well as on the defensive side of the ball, and certainly looked to be the better of the two.
Defensively, Jerod Mayo and Tank Williams stood out to me. Mayo looked very fluid in the hips, and was doing well in drop-back coverage drills. Tank Williams lined up some at linebacker, and could get a look there in sub-packages (similar to how Rodney Harrison sometimes lines up).