With the weather conditions more resembling a fall Sunday, the Patriots suited up in full gear for their afternoon practice for the first time during training camp. Coach Bill Belichick put the troops through a semi-live full squad scrimmage.
The defense had a slight edge over the offense in the hour-long battle that featured down-and-distance situations, substitutions from the sidelines, officials and live hitting without tackling. The rainy conditions hampered the play of all three quarterbacks – Drew Bledsoe, Michael Bishop and Tom Brady – affecting the passing game in the process.
Some highlights included the strong play of the interior of the Patriots first defense. Linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Andy Katzenmoyer, as well as nose tackle Chad Eaton, bottled up the middle and limited the effectiveness of running back Raymont Harris and Kevin Faulk. Rookie free agent nose tackle Maurice Anderson made an impressive play when he shed his blocker and planted fellow rookie Patrick Pass up the middle for no gain.
Also, safety Cory Gilliard, who worked with the second unit, made his presence felt with a couple of monster hits on Faulk and Pass.
Offensively, Brady connected with rookie free agent Shockmain Davis for a 25-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone. Bishop had trouble getting untracked but did find Tony Simmons deep down the right sideline for a long touchdown. Rookie cornerback Antwan Harris was with Simmons stride for stride on the play and got his hand on the ball first, but could only watch as it bounced in the air into Simmons' arms for the touchdown.
Belichick also announced a slight change to the upcoming practice schedule. With tomorrow's planned scrimmage against the New York Giants cancelled, the Patriots will hold a single practice at 2 p.m. instead of the originally planned workout at 9 a.m. The schedule for Friday and Saturday remains the same with one practice each day tentatively slated for 3 p.m.