FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Darrelle Revis had never participated in a joint training camp practice before this year and the five-time Pro Bowler got off to a good start in the two-team setting last week in Richmond, Va., against the Redskins.
But in the Patriots’ first joint practice against the Eagles Tuesday afternoon, Revis became something he hasn’t been since training camp opened: human.
With referees present for the first time at Pats camp, the eighth-year cornerback was flagged three times for defensive holding — an area in which the league promises to be more strict this year — and was beaten by Eagles receiver Jeremy Maclin on a deep ball.
“It’s new rules now in 2014 and we’re just trying to get acclimated to those new rules now and try to play within the rules,” Revis said.
Revis said he and the other members of the Patriots secondary spent some time after practice picking the brains of the officials regarding those rules.
“It’s the beginning stages,” Revis said. “The only thing we can do is ask questions and learn.”
Revis wasn’t alone in looking human on the New England side, as Philadelphia starting quarterback Nick Foles had quite a few deep completions to his receivers.
Last week while practicing against the Redskins, the Patriots dominated all phases of the game except the battle in the trenches on the offensive and defensive lines. New England then went on to struggle mightily in its preseason opener — a game that did not feature Tom Brady and many other key starters.
On Tuesday, the Patriots got their second shot at a different colored-jersey and, as a team, they looked less dominant than they did in Richmond.
However, the Eagles were a better team than the Redskins a year ago. Even before practice started, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was complimentary of a Philadelphia team he saw during last year’s preseason as well.
“I think Chip is a good coach, does a good job,” Belichick said, referring to Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Manchester Central quarterback and UNH offensive coordinator. “They’re a good football team. I think that the play that they got at quarterback last year was real good. I’m not sure that anybody totally saw that coming but that was a big part of it. They had a lot of explosive plays. They’re very dynamic on offense and created more explosive plays than anybody in the league. They do a good job.
“The year that Foles had relative to production, touchdowns, interceptions ... his overall handling (of the) team was great. It was outstanding.”
Dobson, Easley in full pads
Nothing matters until the regular-season opener on Sept. 7 in Miami, and the Patriots seem to be taking the right steps toward being full strength when that game comes.
Two key players who started the year on the PUP or NFI lists — Aaron Dobson and Dominique Easley — returned Monday and took another step forward by showing up in full pads on Tuesday.
Dobson didn’t do anything all that different from what he did on Monday. He caught only a few balls at the beginning of practice and did not participate in team drills. But he did speak to the media and said he’s getting better as he recovers from March foot surgery.
“I feel good, I’m progressing well, so I’m just taking it day by day,” Dobson said. “It’s always ups and downs, the adversity you have to go through, but I’m happy back out here now.”
Dobson also said he has “no idea” if he will play in the preseason game against the Eagles on Friday.
Easley, whose two torn ACLs in college lowered his draft status, still went in the first round to New England. He is expected to make an impact on the roster in 2014. He lost a couple battles against the Eagles’ offensive line Tuesday, but, like Dobson, gave Patriots fans something to smile about just by being out there.
In other news, backup quarterback Ryan Mallett returned after missing practice on Sunday and Monday following a rough outing in the preseason opener last Thursday. Cornerback Brandon Browner also returned after missing just one day and Rob Gronkowski was seen without his arm sleeve and only a brace on his right knee. However, Gronkowski was downgraded to not participating in team drills against the Eagles after participating in such drills against his own team on Monday.
On a beautiful day in Foxborough, the Patriots announced a record 25,317 fans in attendance.
The fans made their presence felt as well, including on a nice throw from Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins, who made a great catch and beat Eagles corner Cary Williams in the process. Williams had created a buzz in the media leading up to practice for calling the Patriots cheaters.
Not too long after the Thompkins catch, Julian Edelman did an impressive spin move to shake a defender near the goal line, also drawing cheers.
Fans were able to enjoy Belichick, owner Robert Kraft and the rest of the team taking the “Ice Bucket Challenge” after practice to raise awareness for ALS.
No public access today
Due to the weather forecast, the Patriots canceled public access for today’s practice at training camp. As a result of the cancellation, the Pats will extend public access to training camp by one day and open practice on Monday, Aug. 18. The time of the practice has yet to be determined and will be announced once it is confirmed.