FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In his fourth NFL season, guard Jonathan Cooper has talked about how much he has been looking forward to a "fresh start" with the New England Patriots, as his career hasn't unfolded the way he had hoped.
The No. 7 overall pick of the 2013 draft with the Arizona Cardinals, Cooper broke his leg in the third preseason game of his rookie season and has never truly been the same since. Overcoming that injury (and others) had been a challenge for him.
"It's just one of those things; you've worked hard and things just haven't seemed to fall your way," he told Sirius XM NFL Radio in June. "Honestly, it's more of a mental thing than anything else. I feel like the biggest thing is the actual fresh start with a new organization and being able, from this day forward, to rewrite my history and be a better player than I was before."
Things seemed to be going well for Cooper, who had consistently been the team's top right guard in practice, until he was carted off Saturday after members of the athletic training staff were looking at his right foot.
Cooper (6-foot-2, 310 pounds), who the Patriots acquired in the March trade involving pass rusher Chandler Jones, is dealing with a plantar fascia issue, according to NFL Network.
Saturday's practice was the Patriots' first of the year in full pads. The combination of Cooper's injury, second-year guards Shaq Mason and Tre' Jackson not yet fully participating in practice and center/right guard Bryan Stork leaving practice early for undisclosed reasons thrust 2016 sixth-round draft pick Ted Karras (Illinois) into Cooper's spot.
The 6-4, 305-pound Karras, whose great-uncle Alex was a four-time Pro Bowl selection before going into acting (including a starring role in the 1980s sitcom "Webster"), seemed to account well for himself.
Karras took one-on-one repetitions against second-year defensive linemen Anthony Johnson (LSU), Joe Vellano (Maryland), and Geneo Grissom (Oklahoma) and was competitive. Later, in a goal-line running drill, LeGarrette Blount scored off the right side of the line where Karras was part of the group blocking up front.
Asked how he thought he fared in his repetitions, the personable Karras (43 career starts at Illinois) showed that he's a quick learner in how the Patriots want their players to think.
"I just hope Coach Scar likes them," he said.
In May, offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia said of Karras: "I really like [him]. He's a unique kid in a lot of ways. Unbelievable work ethic, really a good person, [and] very, very tough. Not as athletic as some, but he's smart and always going to be in the right position."
With Cooper's injury and Karras' rise to the top unit as the springboard to look deeper at practice, here is a recap of what we saw (and heard):
Play of the day: There were a few highlight-type plays to pick from, but we'll give a Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski touchdown in the back-right corner of the end zone the "play of the day" honors. Safety Patrick Chung had competitive coverage and Brady was fired up after the play, racing up to Gronkowski and whacking his helmet. Great throw, great catch. Brady seemed noticeably more vocal in practice, at one time acknowledging the crowd that was chanting "Brady! Brady! Brady!" and then cussing loudly when he had a pass batted down by a paddle for the third day in a row. The runner-up play of the day: A Chris Hogan touchdown catch under the goal posts on a dart from Brady (with cornerback Malcolm Butler in coverage).
What's on the set list? Not a big day for music during practice, with just three songs, all during stretching. Here is what we heard:
"Devil is a Lie," Rick Ross
"Fight Night," Migos
"Lights Come On," Jason Aldean
Health report: Rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell, rookie running back D.J. Foster, fifth-year running back Brandon Bolden and rookie defensive tackle Vincent Valentine didn't practice after being present for the first two days. Valentine tweeted that he was mourning the death of a Nebraska teammate. ... Johnson was carted off with what might have been a heat-related issue and veteran receiver Nate Washington remains out after vomiting on Day 1 of camp.
Edge rushers get off ball quick. The opportunity to work in full pads for the first time seemed to energize the team's pass-rushing defensive ends, most of whom showed explosion and had success against tackles Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle, Cameron Fleming and Keavon Milton. I marked Jabaal Sheard (3), Rob Ninkovich (2) and Chris Long (2) down with solid "wins" in one-on-one work. Ninkovich is a technician, effectively using a double-swipe move on Cannon in a decisive victory, before going with an inside stab and then getting Cannon to lean before pulling him in and gaining the edge on him. ... On the offensive line, Solder had a decisive win over Shea McClellin on one rep, and I had Karras and fellow rookie guard Joe Thuney down in the win column multiple times, with Thuney acing one rep against 2015 first-round pick Malcom Brown.
Extra points. There were more than 21,000 fans in attendance, which caught the attention of several players, including Long. ... The running game was a primary focus of the practice and in four running plays from the 2-yard line, the offense scored three times (twice by Blount, once by running back Tyler Gaffney). After one of the touchdowns, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' excitement was obvious as the intensity of the practice was high. ... Jimmy Garoppolo made a beautiful deep throw to receiver Keshawn Martin up the right sideline (cornerback Justin Coleman 's coverage was competitive), but it went through Martin's hands. ... Kickoff coverage was the focus on special teams, with Hogan and sixth-round draft choice Kamu Grugier-Hill among the notable players on the top unit. ... Hogan drew a big media crowd after practice, along with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, safety Devin McCourty and Long. ... Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn, a free-agent signing from the Giants, continues to receive quality repetitions next to Brown. ... Former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk, who will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame on Monday, was present. ... Onlookers along the sidelines had Toronto Argonauts and Boston College apparel/gear on. ... Life as a rookie at Patriots camp means carrying shoulder pads of veteran players after practice.
Sunday's schedule: Practice at 9:15 a.m.