FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots crossed a key threshold as they continued to roll through training as Day 5 brought with it the first session with full pads. Naturally, that added some more physicality to the day, but it also saw an uptick in injuries on the day as well.
The most notable was starting left guard Cole Strange, who appeared to suffer an injury to his left knee during blocking drills after getting tangled up with defensive tackle Lawrence Guy. Strange was looked at by the medical team while on the ground before walking off under his own power and heading into the athletic training room on the far side of the field. There, Strange continued to be looked at by team personnel and eventually emerged and began testing out his knee by doing some high knees and a light jog. Eventually, Strange, the No. 29 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, walked back toward the field with his helmet and watched the rest of practice, which would indicate that the injury may not be as severe as initially feared.
Strange wasn't the only member of the team to pay a visit to the medical area as tight end Scotty Washington, wideout Jalen Hurd and guard Chasen Hines also went in to get looked at. Also, defensive back Brad Hawkins needed help getting off the field after going down during 11-on-11s.
With all that going on, Bill Belichick corralled the entire 90-man roster into a giant huddle and players after practice noted that the head coach was sending a message to the team to focus on playing smart and to try and avoid getting injured unnecessarily.
"The first day of pads everyone's excited."We're competitive, they're competitive. It was expected, but Bill called us out and we toned it down a little bit," safety Jabrill Peppers said after practice.
"It's very hard," Davon Godchaux told reporters when asked about having to reel things in a bit on the first day of pads. "Everyone wants to prove what they can do, but it's just the first day of pads. Nobody is going to make the team today, but you can improve to get better each and every day. Everybody wants to be aggressive on the first day of pads, but it's just the first day. Got to keep moving and keep stacking good days.''
More from Day 5
- It was an overall slow day for the Patriots as they did seem to ease into the first day of pads rather than going full speed on Day 1. Even the competitive 11-on-11 drills were not as competitive as they've been in recent practices, but that should ratchet up as the days progress.
- With the pads coming on, the running game was of central focus for the most part and the practice did not feature much downfield passing from any of the quarterbacks. With that in mind, Mac Jones' 8-for-10 day was largely high-percentage throws at or around the line of scrimmage. Bailey Zappe was 4-for-8 by my count.
- Rhamondre Stevenson, Matthew Judon, and Trent Brown were limited participants during Monday's session as they worked through conditioning on the lower field. Ty Montgomery, Terez Hall, and Jake Andrews were missing from practice along with Mike Onwenu (PUP), Calvin Anderson (NFI), and Cody Davis (PUP). Rookie safety Marte Mapu continued to have the red non-contact jersey on during Monday's practice, which has been the case throughout the spring.
- With Stevenson limited, second-year running back Kevin Harris saw a bulk of the workload on Monday, particularly when Mac Jones was under center. As the team went through goal-line drills, Harris took his first carry and was able to barrel in for a touchdown.
- The team has Harris listed at 5-foot-10, 225 pounds but the back does looks lean entering his second season in the NFL and told reporters after practice that he had used the offseason to work on "catching the ball and running faster." So, while he can still be a bruising back for New England, there could be a different element that he may bring in 2023. However, he did have a drop on a throw from Mac Jones during goal-line work.
- The Patriots offensive line is being tested early with Trent Brown limited. On Monday, Riley Reiff saw some reps at left tackle to fill Brown's shoes and even played some right guard toward the end of practice, filling the spot left by Onwenu. Once Strange went down, rookie Antonio Mafi saw reps at left guard. Monday is a good example of how fragile the O-line -- particularly at tackle -- appears to be for New England and could end up being an Achilles' heel for this team in 2023.
- Kendrick Bourne is finally on the board after hauling in a touchdown pass from Bailey Zappe. His catch comes a day after Belichick praised the receiver and said he "had a really good offseason."
- One of the interesting wrinkles that came out of Monday's practice was linebacker Jahlani Tavai working as a fullback for the Patriots during goal-line run plays, which got a rise out of a number of defensive players. The Patriots have been willing to get creative with players in the past and even had a similar situation unfold a few years back when linebacker Elandon Roberts saw some time at fullback.