The Patriots took the pads completely off for the first time in three days for Wednesday's afternoon session, practicing in helmets and shorts.
!() Without pads, the theme of practice focused on the passing game with no contact. Despite the absence of contact, a shiver had to go through the crowd on hand when Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy went down clutching his right knee.
Quarterback Drew Bledsoe had just completed a pass to Terry Glenn and Milloy cut back toward Glenn and slipped to the natural grass surface and immediately grabbed his knee. Teammates and trainer Ron O'Neil surrounded the fifth-year safety, but he quickly popped up and trotted off the sideline where he continued flexing and grabbing his knee.
A few moments later, the practice horn blew and the team moved to red zone work where Milloy retook his spot at safety with the first defense.
The banged up offensive line may have taken another hit. Tackle Grant Williams was not on the field for the afternoon session and the first unit underwent some shuffling. Max Lane popped out from right guard to left tackle; Jason Andersen flipped from right guard to left guard and rookie free agent Adam Davis moved into the first group at left guard. Lance Scott, Todd Rucci, Bruce Armstrong and Adrian Klemm remain sidelined recovering from injuries.
The team spent some time working in the red zone and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis warned his players not to foul things up. "No penalties! No sacks! And no turnovers in the red zone," he screamed.
Camp Notes: Ted Johnson sat out of practice again with a tight hamstring and was on the Stairmaster with his helmet and shoulder pads on … in addition to Johnson and the offensive linemen above, tight end Dave Stachelski, defensive lineman Brandon Mitchell and wideout Matt Bumgardner sat out with injuries while wide receiver Martinez Williams remained sidelined for not having passed the conditioning test … Milloy intercepted Bledsoe on a deep ball … Bledsoe also was intercepted when defensive lineman Bobby Hamilton batted his pass into the backfield where linebacker Chris Slade caught it and ran the other way … tight end Rod Rutledge, who doesn't have the best reputation as a receiver, saw an easy pass sail right through his hands to the chagrin of the coaching staff … the kickers worked on onside kicks ... The New England Patriots waived rookie free agent linebacker John Eskridge today. The 6-foot-3-inch, 235-pound linebacker was originally signed by the Patriots following the 2000 NFL draft on April 19. The Tampa, Fla. native attended Mississippi Delta Community College for two seasons before transferring to Southwest Missouri State in 1998. … Over 2,500 fans attended today's practice sessions in Foxboro. The three day total now exceeds 7,000.