FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Thursday was the final day that fans and media were permitted to watch the entirety of Patriots practice, as the team will break camp after Friday night's game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The workout was essentially a walkthrough, as the two teams did not engage in any contact drills and there was a focus on special teams and situational work.
A handful of observations from the practice:
1. Quarterback Tom Brady was on the practice field, and he showed virtually no signs of limitations in his left knee. He took part in all drills and took his customary reps. He made several strong throws that suggested his knee wasn't bothering his performance in any way.
2. The day was filled with extensive situational and special-teams work. The teams worked on situations such as punts from deep in their own territory, free kicks following safeties, end-of-game field goals, end-of-game offense/defense and the hands team.
3. Speaking of the hands team, it was interesting to see quarterback Tim Tebow get some work on that unit. He clearly has shown the team that he is comfortable handling the football. Other players who were aligned at positions that demonstrated the team's trust in their hands included Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Julian Edelman and Leon Washington.
4. There was a brief seven-on-seven period early in practice, and tight end Jake Ballard looked comfortable in his movement skills as he continues to work his way back from a major knee injury in 2012. As we've reinforced, it's important not to judge him in the construct of a "move" tight end but rather as a burly blocker with reliable catching skills. He'll have a chance to demonstrate his efficient blocking Friday night.
5. If there's a player that we would pinpoint as having come a long way since the start of camp, it would be undrafted rookie receiver Quentin Sims. During a wet and rainy first day of practice, Sims struggled with drops. He's improved since then, using his big frame to outmuscle and leverage defenders in competitive catch situations. Perhaps he could find a home on the practice squad.