With one week until the team heads to the University of Massachusetts for a scrimmage with the New York Giants, training camp has officially reached its dog days. It's day four of double sessions and the team spent the morning in pads again on Thursday although the contact wasn't nearly as fierce as Wednesday's action.
Head Coach Bill Belichick said the team worked on giving its offense and defense new looks by running plays designed on cards rather than out of the playbook. The purpose was to give both units looks they don't normally see in practice. For example, the defense ran some one-gap stuff because the offense will see that during the season, but since the Patriots defense doesn't play that style, the offense doesn't see generally see it in practice.
It appears Henry Thomas will work as a situational nose tackle specializing in rushing the passer. Thomas is not a considered a prototype two-gap lineman and on third down nickel situations, the defense changes to more of a gap style suited for Thomas. As a pass-rush specialist, Thomas may maintain fresh legs longer and have more of an impact.
Belichick commented on the role former players Andre Tippett and Pepper Johnson could play for the team, offering insight and instruction. Johnson played under Belichick with the Giants, Browns and Jets and is now on the coaching staff for the summer in the NFL minority-coaching program. Tippett works in pro scouting but works on martial arts with linemen and linebackers to help them become more effective using their hands.
Belichick addressed the defense along with Johnson last night speaking on the concepts of the defense. Two points he focused on were communication and aggressiveness. Johnson talked about running the huddle and pointing out personnel changes and the importance of taking charge. Belichick said there is a fine line between aggressiveness and over-aggressiveness.
The difference is making or missing a play.
Camp notes: Rookie cornerback Antwan Harris intercepted Drew Bledsoe after the quarterback stepped up to avoid pressure … Kato Serwanga also had a nifty interception breaking on a slant thrown by Tom Brady … The team worked on its 2:00 offense and Michael Bishop took some snaps with the second offense … Larry Whigham was at free safety and Serwanga at corner on the first defensive unit as Belichick continues to rotate players in with the starters … Grant Williams joined the list of offensive linemen on the injury list although Belichick said he has a minor knee injury and will return shortly. Adam Davis continues to fill the void on the line … Also out in the morning were Todd Rucci, Bruce Armstrong, Lance Scott (who was running slowly for the first time), Adrian Klemm, Ted Johnson, Brandon Mitchell, Dave Stachelski and Matt Bumgardner … Troy Brown muffed one of the several punts he returned during special teams work … Reggie Grimes is still filling in for Mitchell on the defensive line … Belichick praised tight end Eric Bjornson for his knowledge of the passing game and his receiving skills.