FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Drama is unwelcome at New England Patriots training camp, but with the seventh practice in eight days and fifth in full pads Wednesday came the simmering tempers common as the dog days of summer workouts arrive.
Players seemed to be starting to drag a little bit physically, even with the pretty mild temperatures that have been a blessing to players accustomed to 90-degree heat and humidity.
Tempers started flaring up on the practice fields of Gillette Stadium. At the center of it all was first-year Patriots cornerback and former Seattle Seahawks "Legion of Boom" member Brandon Browner.
Browner -- who has brought a very physical style with him to drills and team action as he works to acclimate himself to the Patriots secondary -- got into back-and-fourth with receiver Kenbrell Thompkins that continued over a handful of red zone reps.
Then he barked at rookie quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to throw the ball when the young passer failed to challenge the cornerback's coverage.
Things really got interesting when Browner, who has made a career in the NFL and this summer in grabbing, clutching and abusing receivers at the line, had words with New England special teams coach Chad O'Shea. The assistant was not happy with the way he perceived Browner to be assaulting his receivers, especially in a year when the NFL is poised to crack down on illegal contact in the secondary.
After practice Browner made no bones about the fact that he was trying to play more physical as the first full week of training camp action came about.
"It was a physical one, man. We had to compete out there. I'm tired of giving up balls, so I just turned it up a little bit," he said of the practice. "Yesterday we gave up a few balls and let some of those guys off the line a little easy. So that was my mentality going into this practice, to win my one-on-one matchups.
"You give those guys too many balls, they're going to get confident. You want to take away a little of that confidence and give confidence to yourself."
He also downplayed the words he had with O'Shea.
"Me and him hugged it out," Browner said. "As a coach, I have to respect him, but that's nothing I want to talk about or put on TV like that because I respect him."
Looking ahead to a trip to Washington for joint practices with the Redskins leading up to the teams' Aug. 7 preseason opener, Bill Belichick almost predicted the potential for some frustrations building when he met with the media prior to the Wednesday morning workout.
"This is just our grinding through camp period now," Belichick said. "We need to keep stringing together good practices, good days, consistent improvement and there's really no shortcut to it. This is where we build our fundamentals, where our team comes together from a chemistry standpoint, also from a communications standpoint and there's just no shortcut to it. We just have to grind away here day after day. So, that's where we're at today. That's where we'll be tomorrow. That's where we'll be out here for a while."
The constant competition among familiar faces brings out frustration in most players. Browner and Thompkins were at the center of it for one day. Other little feuds will also likely pop up as they do every year in every camp.
As Belichick would say, it is what it is this time of year.
"I think everybody ... it's something that's necessary for all of us -- players, coaches. You just have to be able to grind through it because that's the way it's going to be during the season," Belichick concluded.
NOTES: WR Matthew Slater remains on the physically unable to perform list due to an unknown injury but has been doing some intense rehab running on the field during training camp and seems to be working swiftly toward getting healthy. ... DT Dominique Easley continues to work back from the ACL injury that cost the first-round pick the bulk of his final season at Florida. The Patriots are reportedly taking a very cautious approach with the young disruptive lineman.