FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from the New England Patriots' 13th practice of training camp, which was held in light shoulder pads and shorts and was open to the public (temperatures in the mid-80s):
Eyes on Solder and the offensive line: After fourth-year left tackle Nate Solder struggled in joint practices with the Redskins, and then in the preseason opener, it's been notable that he has not been working alongside left guard Logan Mankins the past two days. Marcus Cannon has stepped into that role. It has also caught our attention that first-year player Jordan Devey, who started the preseason opener at left guard in place of the rested Mankins, has worked as the top right guard the past two days. Devey could be an under-the-radar player to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
Butler keeps building momentum: Earlier in the day, Bill Belichick said that undrafted cornerback Malcolm Butler was still improving, which won't come as a surprise to Patriots fans who watched the preseason opener. Butler (5-foot-11, 190 pounds) caught the eye again in this practice, intercepting Tom Brady on a sideline pass to Kenbrell Thompkins in situational 11-on-11 work. Butler, of West Alabama, wore a red non-contact jersey for the second half of practice and received some quality reps opposite Darrelle Revis.
Dennard takes another step: It has been noted that it was a big day on the health front for the Patriots as tight end Rob Gronkowski graduated to seven-on-seven drills, receiver Aaron Dobson was removed from the physically unable to perform list, and defensive lineman Dominique Easley was removed from the non-football injury list, but not to be overlooked was cornerback Alfonzo Dennard getting extensive work in seven-on-seven drills. He's clearly still knocking off some rust, but the graduation to seven-on-seven drills was notable.
With Mallett out for second day, Garoppolo sees more reps: With Ryan Mallett not present at practice for the second day in a row, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had another opportunity to gain some more reps. Garoppolo used the time to his advantage as he continued to build a connection with wide receiver Brian Tyms. Tyms made a nice grab on the sidelines after a Garoppolo rollout to avoid the rush. Later in the series, Garoppolo threaded the needle to tight end James Develin with linebacker Steve Beauharnais in tight coverage.
Cleaning out the notebook: Former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, a close friend of Bill Belichick, was present at today's practice. ... Boston College men's hockey coach Jerry York was also a guest at practice. ... From the general-impression standpoint, veteran receiver Brandon LaFell seems much more comfortable with his route running from the start of camp, with one nice comeback route hard to miss and an out to the sideline that shook that rookie defensive back Jemea Thomas. ... Thomas had a nice interception of Garoppolo, showing his vertical leap to snare the pass above his head. ... Snappers Tyler Ott and Danny Aiken each had some erratic snaps including one of Ott’s that skipped off the ground (punter Ryan Allen made a good grab to avoid a botched punt). … Cornerback Logan Ryan made a slick one-handed grab during an individual drill working on interceptions, and also had two pass breakups. … Receiver Julian Edelman had one of the plays of the day, a one-handed catch on a long bomb over the middle (he might have gotten away with a push-off on cornerback Kyle Arrington). ... Safety Nate Ebner intercepted a Brady pass that deflected off the hands of wide receiver Josh Boyce. … Running back James White showed some exceptional receiving skills as he made a good adjustment while maintaining his speed on a pass by Garoppolo thrown behind him. … LaFell and running back Shane Vereen fumbled during a ball strip drill. … Looked like linebacker Darius Fleming was worked a bit more into the special teams mix on the punt team. ... The Patriots worked on getting the field goal unit on to the field quickly. ... The practice finished with running on the conditioning hill. ... Tom Brady greeted his wife, Gisele Bundchen, and the couple's children after practice.
Who returned: Dobson (foot/PUP), Easley (non-football-injury list), and linebacker James Anderson (unknown). Dobson and Easley both participated in walk-throughs and individual drills for the first half of practice and worked one-on-one with athletic trainers in the second half. Anderson spent some time on the conditioning hill, but then did not return to the practice fields.
Who else didn’t practice: Quarterback Ryan Mallett (unknown), Offensive tackle Chris Martin (non-football-injury list), wide receiver Jeremy Gallon (unknown/PUP), tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (unknown, participated in first four practices), tight end D.J. Williams (right leg), linebacker Cameron Gordon (unknown, participated in first six practices), Ja'Gared Davis (undisclosed injury last Monday in joint practices with Redskins), Kanoris Davis (unknown, played in preseason opener). Both Davis' were present but did not practice.
Who’s talking with the media: Guard Logan Mankins; tight ends Ben Hartsock, Steve Maneri, Terrence Miller; center Dan Connolly; kicker Stephen Gostkowski; punter Ryan Allen; defensive back Jemea Thomas; cornerback Kyle Arrington, linebacker/fullback Taylor McCuller, safety Travis Hawkins.