Final Training Camp Notebook

Don't panic about Phillip Dorsett - he might not even make the roster

Phillip Dorsett appears to be fine

WR Phillip Dorsett, who had only 12 catches last year, slipped while running a crossing route and received medical attention on his knee. Dorsett spent time in the medical tent, but appeared fine after practice. Standing next to him, Dorsett did not appear to be in any pain. Dorsett was not allowed to speak to the media because he did not finish practice.

It is important to remember that Dorsett was anything but a lock to make the team on a roster that has depth and talent issues at wide receiver. Dorsett has not lived up to expectations since the Indianapolis Colts drafted him in the first round of the 2015 draft. The Colts were likely going to release Dorsett before they gave him away to the Pats in a trade for third string QB Jacoby Brissett.

Last year, he had only 12 catches and has been a disappointment with only 55 catches in three years in the NFL. Dorsett has yet to prove he can be an every down starter. While the Pats might be nervous about their wide receiver depth, Dorsett was anything but a lock to make significant on the field contributions.

Tom Brady still loves the little things

Tom Brady spoke to the media after practice for only the second time in training camp. Brady spent time working on conditioning after practice (where he would run with harness around him to improve his agility along with running sprints) and said it is important to get the little things right.

“Yeah, I mean I love doing it. I love trying to get wherever, you know whatever you can get a little extra in. We’ve had so many hot days, really hot days or really wet days and neither of those days are very good to do that extra stuff so got to take advantage of those days while we can and try to get a little extra work with the receivers and the tight ends and that’s what the goal is,” Brady said.

Balancing scheme vs. talent

Bill Belichick discussed the balance between being resolute to a particular scheme and adjusting a scheme to fit the talent on the roster. The switch from a 3-4 defense years ago back to a 4-3 defense (the Pats played a 4-3 in 2001 when they won the Super Bowl while they a 3-4 in 2003 and 2004 when they won the Super Bowl) was not drastic because with offenses using mostly three wide receiver sets it forces defenses to play a 4-2-5 - four defensive lineman, two linebackers and five defensive backs as their base defense.

“You could have the personnel that for whatever reason might fit a better scheme, or you might feel you need a different scheme to deal with the challenges that you’re having to face over the course of your schedule, in your division or the teams you have to play, whatever it is. In that particular example, because it's our base defense, it's played so little based on the amount of substitute defense that we play.

You're talking about ten to 15 percent of your defense. I wouldn’t say that’s a major decision. It’s a decision. It’s important. It’s no different than how you play goal line or the last play of the game. Those are minimal situations too but they’re important when they came up. I’m not saying it’s not important. You have to look at your major things first. If putting together your base defense, which let's just say is a nickel defense, which it is for most teams in the league now, then based on what you have and what you're facing maybe what would you rather play as your base defense?

What type of front? What type of combination of linebackers and defensive linemen? Where would you deploy them? Over or under? 4-3 or 3-4? Whatever you want to call it. That might be a residual effect of what your major composition of the defense was did we learn in training camp," Belichick said

Did training camp teach us any anything?

After 14 practices and 30 hours of watching practices - what did we learn. In that time, one could have finished drivers education. Not much. The receiving core is still a huge question mark, but it might not matter because the rest of the AFC is mediocre. The Pats still have Brady (the best QB), Rob Gronkowski (the best tight end), and James White (one of the best young running backs in the league). The front seven on defense is still wide open with Trey Flowers and an injury prone Dont’a Hightower as the leaders.

It is disappointing not to get to watch rookie RB Sony Michel (the Pats first round pick) who hurt his knee in training camp and will likely miss the preseason. The Pats second first round pick LT Isaiah Wynn has not looked impressive and Trent Brown is the likely starting left tackle. CB Duke Dawson has a long way to go. CB Cyrus Jones is on the roster bubble.

Michel, OL Marcus Cannon, LB Harvey Langi and special teams ace Matthew Slater were not spotted at practice. Ryan Lewis, Duke Dawson, Kenny Britt and Trey Flowers continue to do some work on the lower field.

Trent Harris and Marquis Flowers left practice early.

The Pats play the Eagles Thursday Night in their second preseason game at Gillette Stadium (7:30 p.m. kickoff).

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