Tom Brady looked phenomenal at the Patriots’ joint practice session with the Washington Redskins Monday in Virginia. File under: Not surprising.
Brady’s job as New England's quarterback is certainly safe, but this week should go a long way in determining the winners and losers of certain position battles.
The Pats will play their first preseason game Thursday against the Redskins (7:30 p.m., CBS-4) but before we get there, Metro takes a look at the performers who have wowed and also those who have struggled at camp so far:
Stock up: Vince Wilfork
Typically, it’s good to be leery of athletes, particularly NFL lineman, who say they’re in the “best shape of their life” during the preseason. Wilfork has made this proclamation several times throughout his career – most recently in July 2012. Two years ago, it seemed as though he was right in his assessment. Wilfork ended up being a first team All-Pro that season. But there was no such boasting last summer, and after the big man ruptured his Achilles last September there were hindsight whispers that he was "out of shape." He is listed as 6-foot-2, 325 pounds on the Patriots website – but those vitals are about as accurate as a Patriots weekly injury report. The consensus is that Wilfork now looks relatively slim, and he said he made a conscious effort in the offseason to take some pressure off that healing Achilles.
Stock down: The backup QBs
Who will take the Brian Hoyer Memorial title of “Mr. August?” We have four preseason games coming up to figure that out, but the early camp returns aren’t great for Ryan Mallett and Jimmy Garoppolo. Mallett reportedly had issues throwing the deep ball in practice Monday and was picked off by Washington’s Bacarri Rambo, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. Meanwhile, Garoppolo’s failures have already been well documented as every time you look up at practice he’s either holding on to the ball too long or running punishment laps.
Stock up: Darrelle Revis
We expected to be drooling over Revis at camp and that’s exactly what’s transpired. Soooo … stock is the same? Revis has seemingly gotten the best of Tom Brady at camp – no small feat considering Brady is in peak form, having torched the Redskins secondary at practice Monday. The former Jets and Bucs star picked off Brady for a “pick-six” at practice last week and has given the Patriots’ secondary a noticeable swagger that features a much-needed upgrade in physicality.
Stock down: Dominique Easley
When the Patriots drafted Easley with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, his selection was met with immediate pessimism regarding his health. The former Florida star tore his ACL early in his senior season and it appears that the injury is still a huge issue. While the defensive tackle took part in the team’s minicamp in May, he has still not yet practiced in training camp and is simply doing conditioning drills. There’s a good chance he will miss the first six regular season games of the season if the Pats don't deem him 100 percent healthy by the end of camp.
Stock up: Duron Harmon
It’s a safe bet that Bill Belichick has the Gillette Stadium groundskeeper (water that FieldTurf!!!) make out the depth chart each August. Rookies are given no respect on this thing and veterans are given too much respect. But one curious item from last week’s chart shows Harmon as the starting strong safety. Harmon was thrust into action as a rookie last year when Steven Gregory (now with Kansas City) was injured. The Rutgers product performed well, most noticeably in the late November comeback win over Denver – when he registered 11 tackles. He also had two interceptions last season. Harmon will look to hold off Patrick Chung in camp for the starting spot next to Devin McCourty.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS