Patriots Camp Report: Day 21

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New England Patriots training camp:

  • The Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles held their second joint practice of the week in heavy rain. The inclement weather forced the Patriots to close the practice to the public one day after a record crowd of 25,317 showed up on Tuesday.

  • Veteran linebacker Jerod Mayo's absence -- for the second day in a row and for undisclosed reasons -- remains a top storyline. The Patriots played without Mayo for the final 10 games last season after he tore a pectoral muscle, and filling the void was a challenge. Much like 2013, Dont'a Hightower took on more responsibility in practice ensuring all defenders were lined up properly. It seems unlikely Mayo will play in Friday's second preseason game.

  • Receiver Brandon LaFell drew a large media crowd after practice as he made a few nice grabs in the rainy session. LaFell talked about how he's continuing to develop a rapport with Tom Brady, explaining why Brady got excited at one point Wednesday because LaFell had corrected a mistake that had previously come up, and it resulted in a positive play. That's the essence of training camp -- making those types of gains.

  • Second-year linebacker Jamie Collins is all over the field. Part of what makes defending the Eagles so tough is the presence of running backs Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy, and Collins' work in pass coverage against them caught the eye. Collins looks primed to make a significant jump from his rookie season, when he played 25.8 percent of the defensive snaps, to more of a three-down role in 2014.

  • The Patriots and Eagles will hold a walk-through on Thursday morning (9:30 ET), which is closed to the public. The Patriots also announced that their final open training camp practice will be held Monday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. ET.