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Chameleon Caserio at it again; Thursday notes

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]()One of the under-the radar acquisitions the Patriots made during the offseason was signing safety Brandon McGowan. The former Chicago Bear was injured and played in just two games a year ago, but he's been on the field for every practice thus far in camp.

"I love it. My first impression was I love they way they work, the work ethic of the team, how they coach. You gotta love it here," McGowan said of joining the Patriots.

Despite his abbreviated 2008, McGowan is just a year removed from a season that saw him play in 14 games with nine starts and record 80 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. But even with that solid production, McGowan's ankle injury discouraged the Bears from making a serious run at keeping him when he became a free agent last spring.

That was just fine with McGowan, who relished the opportunity to get into a different system. The Bears operate the Tampa 2 defense, which McGowan believes doesn't necessarily play to his strengths.

"I just think I play reckless," he said. "I don't really care about my body. I like to be physical, getting down in the box and getting my hands dirty. This system allows you to make plays that way and that's what I really like to do."

Much has been made of the difficult nature of the Patriots defensive system by newcomers to the secondary in recent years. McGowan hasn't found that to be the case thus far in Foxborough.

"I don't think it's tough," McGowan said. "If you're smart football player and know football you'll be able to grasp things quick. You just have learn the technology of everything and once you get the terminology everything should be smooth sailing."

Bowling for quarterbacks

Bill Belichick was actively involved with several areas of the practice. At one point there were two groups working on blocking punts, one with Chris Hansondoing the kicking and the other with special teams coach Scott O'Brien. Belichick watched closely and commented on the techniques the players were using, discussing proper angles and hand placement.

Later the coach was seen making life tough on Brian Hoyerand** evin O'Connell *as they worked on some red zone drills. As the quarterbacks dropped back and began to search for a receiver, Belichick would toss a medicine ball in their direction and force them out of the pocket. He usually rolled it at their feet, but at one point tossed one past Hoyer roughly chest high.

Absentee ballots

With the team scheduled for a night workout inside Gillette Stadium for season-ticket holders, Thursday morning's practice was conducted in shorts and shells and there were many regulars not on the field. Most notable among the 22 players missing were receivers Joey Galloway, Randy Mossand Wes Welker, linebackers* edy Bruschi *and Tank Williams *nd defensive end **Richard Seymour. It was the first missed practice of camp for both Williams and Welker. Wilfork, who missed Wednesday's practices to be with his wife, Bianca, for the birth of their third child, was back in uniform.

Who's hot: Kevin O'Connell – The backup quarterback had a solid day throwing the football after seeing his workload decrease in bit in recent practices. He appeared to be more decisive in the pocket and was on target with his throws throughout the morning.

Who's not: The offense –For the second straight day the unit was forced to run a lap when it failed to convert on a do-or-die play from inside the 5. **Julian Edelman *tripped and fell before O'Connell's pass could reach his arms and practice once again ended with the defense celebrating.

Play of the day – Sam Aikentook off on a skinny post and got behind* ike Richardson *during a team period. O'Connell took some time to survey things before uncorking a deep ball that hit the receiver in stride just before* Heana-Daze Jones **ould help out over the top.

Brace yourself

With the morning session not in pads and featuring mostly younger, inexperienced players, Tom Bradydid not do much throwing during team periods while the backups took most of the reps. He also did not wear the black brace he's had on his left knee for all full pads practices thus far.

Notes
Pierre Woods had to do some pushups at one point in practice, according to his teammates due to the fact that he did not run off the field. Woods took a little ribbing from teammates Jerod Mayo and *Gary Guyton for the infraction while doing a group interview after practice. The three young linebackers talked to a large crowd of media, although Mayo did most of the talking. Mayo did joke about the average age at the position dropping a bit this season when compared to a year ago. … *Matt Gutierrez *nd *Vince Redd, both of whom were released by the team earlier in camp, signed with Kansas City. … Kevin Faulk *mde a nice one-handed, catch with his left hand near the goal line in a group drill with the QBs. … O'Connell had a nice completion to Tyson DeVree in the red area, beating Branon Meriweather. … *Andrew Walter *hadone very tough throw in the workout in which he badly overthrew a deep crossing Edelman, the ball ending as a Jones interception. … Both Woods and *Rob Ninkovich *got eps working with their hands down in the dirt in various sub packages. At one point Woods was actually lined up in front of *Adalius Thomas *on th left side of the defensive front. One thing to keep in mind with all reps, including at linebacker, is that players are missing at levels of the depth chart. For example both Bruschi and *Tully Banta-Cain *have nw missed extended time at linebacker. … *Eric Alexander, who's been an inside guy for the bulk of his time in New England, has been taking reps on the outside early on in camp. … The night practice in Gillette Stadium is scheduled to take place from 6:30 p.m.-8:15 p.m.. While only season-ticket holders will be in attendance, the media will be in the house. Check out PFW's blog and Patriots.com for all the information that comes from that always-exciting and high-energy workout.

caserio_2260.jpg


Most player personnel directors who take to the practice fields every day ever break a sweat let alone take part in the workout. So, whenNick Caseriodons pads and fires passes at the wide receivers every day, it seems like a rather odd occurrence.

"I think my situation has kind of been unique," Caserio said while addressing the media in the Gillette Stadium press box after Thursday morning's practice. "Even if you go back a couple of years ago when Coach [Ivan] Fears was out for a 2-3 week period of time, I was on the field working with the running backs. So I've had some degree of experience in the system. I think at this point of the year, I certainly enjoy it.

"I think what we're trying to do right now is wherever I can help, in whatever capacity that might be, I'm certainly more than willing to do. I've worked with a lot of coaches offensively on this staff. It's enjoyable. In the end, the whole goal, especially at this time of the year, is to get the players prepared to practice, make sure they know what to do. If I'm involved in that, great. However I can help, then I'm willing to do that."

Caserio has been quite effective in a number of roles during his time with the Patriots. He served as wide receivers coach back in 2007 and has alternated between the personnel department and coaching ranks fairly regularly. Dating back to the spring he's been working with the receivers and first-year coach Chad O'Sheaevery day in practice.

"It's ongoing. I think we're kind of going through training camp, it's sort of day to day, and we'll get through the preseason and then we'll make an evaluation of how that works," he added. "Even at different points during the year, in years past -- when I was upstairs exclusively in personnel -- there were some things that I was doing on game day, whether it was offensively or defensively. In the end, how that is all going to play out, I'm not sure."

Caserio was asked about negotiations with Vince Wilfork, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will be a free agent in 2010, as well as the potential signing of Michael Vick. He mentioned the Wilfork situation was one that is being worked on regularly and that the pending labor strife has played a role in the team's plans. He did not get into specifics regarding the nose tackle's future, nor would he address Vick individually other than to say he was one of many players currently available and the team reviews all of its possibilities.

Big Mac attack

[

_mcgowan_dsp_0089.jpg

]()One of the under-the radar acquisitions the Patriots made during the offseason was signing safety Brandon McGowan. The former Chicago Bear was injured and played in just two games a year ago, but he's been on the field for every practice thus far in camp.

"I love it. My first impression was I love they way they work, the work ethic of the team, how they coach. You gotta love it here," McGowan said of joining the Patriots.

Despite his abbreviated 2008, McGowan is just a year removed from a season that saw him play in 14 games with nine starts and record 80 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. But even with that solid production, McGowan's ankle injury discouraged the Bears from making a serious run at keeping him when he became a free agent last spring.

That was just fine with McGowan, who relished the opportunity to get into a different system. The Bears operate the Tampa 2 defense, which McGowan believes doesn't necessarily play to his strengths.

"I just think I play reckless," he said. "I don't really care about my body. I like to be physical, getting down in the box and getting my hands dirty. This system allows you to make plays that way and that's what I really like to do."

Much has been made of the difficult nature of the Patriots defensive system by newcomers to the secondary in recent years. McGowan hasn't found that to be the case thus far in Foxborough.

"I don't think it's tough," McGowan said. "If you're smart football player and know football you'll be able to grasp things quick. You just have learn the technology of everything and once you get the terminology everything should be smooth sailing."

Bowling for quarterbacks

Bill Belichick was actively involved with several areas of the practice. At one point there were two groups working on blocking punts, one with Chris Hansondoing the kicking and the other with special teams coach Scott O'Brien. Belichick watched closely and commented on the techniques the players were using, discussing proper angles and hand placement.

Later the coach was seen making life tough on Brian Hoyerand** evin O'Connell *as they worked on some red zone drills. As the quarterbacks dropped back and began to search for a receiver, Belichick would toss a medicine ball in their direction and force them out of the pocket. He usually rolled it at their feet, but at one point tossed one past Hoyer roughly chest high.

Absentee ballots

With the team scheduled for a night workout inside Gillette Stadium for season-ticket holders, Thursday morning's practice was conducted in shorts and shells and there were many regulars not on the field. Most notable among the 22 players missing were receivers Joey Galloway, Randy Mossand Wes Welker, linebackers* edy Bruschi *and Tank Williams *nd defensive end **Richard Seymour. It was the first missed practice of camp for both Williams and Welker. Wilfork, who missed Wednesday's practices to be with his wife, Bianca, for the birth of their third child, was back in uniform.

Who's hot: Kevin O'Connell – The backup quarterback had a solid day throwing the football after seeing his workload decrease in bit in recent practices. He appeared to be more decisive in the pocket and was on target with his throws throughout the morning.

Who's not: The offense –For the second straight day the unit was forced to run a lap when it failed to convert on a do-or-die play from inside the 5. **Julian Edelman *tripped and fell before O'Connell's pass could reach his arms and practice once again ended with the defense celebrating.

Play of the day – Sam Aikentook off on a skinny post and got behind* ike Richardson *during a team period. O'Connell took some time to survey things before uncorking a deep ball that hit the receiver in stride just before* Heana-Daze Jones **ould help out over the top.

Brace yourself

With the morning session not in pads and featuring mostly younger, inexperienced players, Tom Bradydid not do much throwing during team periods while the backups took most of the reps. He also did not wear the black brace he's had on his left knee for all full pads practices thus far.

Notes
Pierre Woods had to do some pushups at one point in practice, according to his teammates due to the fact that he did not run off the field. Woods took a little ribbing from teammates Jerod Mayo and *Gary Guyton for the infraction while doing a group interview after practice. The three young linebackers talked to a large crowd of media, although Mayo did most of the talking. Mayo did joke about the average age at the position dropping a bit this season when compared to a year ago. … *Matt Gutierrez *nd *Vince Redd, both of whom were released by the team earlier in camp, signed with Kansas City. … Kevin Faulk *mde a nice one-handed, catch with his left hand near the goal line in a group drill with the QBs. … O'Connell had a nice completion to Tyson DeVree in the red area, beating Branon Meriweather. … *Andrew Walter *hadone very tough throw in the workout in which he badly overthrew a deep crossing Edelman, the ball ending as a Jones interception. … Both Woods and *Rob Ninkovich *got eps working with their hands down in the dirt in various sub packages. At one point Woods was actually lined up in front of *Adalius Thomas *on th left side of the defensive front. One thing to keep in mind with all reps, including at linebacker, is that players are missing at levels of the depth chart. For example both Bruschi and *Tully Banta-Cain *have nw missed extended time at linebacker. … *Eric Alexander, who's been an inside guy for the bulk of his time in New England, has been taking reps on the outside early on in camp. … The night practice in Gillette Stadium is scheduled to take place from 6:30 p.m.-8:15 p.m.. While only season-ticket holders will be in attendance, the media will be in the house. Check out PFW's blog and Patriots.com for all the information that comes from that always-exciting and high-energy workout.

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