The Patriots held their final public practice leading up to their first preseason game Thursday morning. Aside from a Friday morning walk thru, the practice was a final tune up in preparation for Saturday night's game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ against the New York Giants.
The team practiced in shorts, helmets and smaller foam pads at Bryant College under bright skies and a cool breeze in front of a good sized morning crowd. Unlike much of the week's work, this morning's practice worked to prepare more specifically for the Giants game, and not simply for the upcoming NFL season.
After the usual stretching and positional drills, the team spent a long segment working on special teams. In his post practice press conference Head Coach Bill Belichick said the team and special teams coach Brad Seely used the segment to go over nearly every possible special teams play. The team worked on everything from all the usual return and coverage units, down the coverage unit on a free kick following a safety.
The rest of practice consisted mostly of team work, including both sides of the ball working against the scout team in different areas of the game including normal offense and defense, red zone and goal line work for both sides of the ball and other situational plays. During the segment, while the first offensive and defensive groups got their work in, the second and third groups seemed to get some extended work. These backups and reserves will have a great opportunity on Saturday to stand out both in the kicking game and in some significant playing time during the game.
On the injury front, there were no new faces in the injured crowd. In fact, Damien Woody returned to the practice field, albeit under the limitations of a red jersey. Woody had injured his left shoulder in practice on Tuesday and missed both practice sessions on Wednesday. Belichick said in his press conference that while Woody had a chance of playing in the Giants game, Matt Light, Troy Brown, Daniel Graham and Richard Seymour will not play in the game. Graham and Brown did not practice on Thursday, but both Seymour and Light have been practicing as of late as they recover from off season shoulder surgeries.
Prior to the practice Belichick revealed that he had canceled the afternoon session and that the team would have the rest of the day off until their 11p.m. curfew. The team will leave for New York mid day on Friday and will be traveling by train, a practice that began last season with the trip to New York to play the Jets.
During a team vs. scout segment, the entire offense had to run two laps around the field for an apparent false start. The team finished the first lap, a usual penalty for such issues as fumbles, offsides and false starts, but Belichick told them to continue and do another lap for their mistake. … Richard Seymour practiced for the first time in his normal blue number 93 jersey, leaving the restraints of the red jersey. … Kenyatta Jones got some one-on-one work with offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia on the sidelines during the team segment. … David Patten drew praise from Belichick and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis for a toe-dragging catch on a Damon Huard pass in the corner of the end zone. … Rookie Jarvis Green made a nice play to intercept a screen pass during the team segment. … Late in practice the offense worked on some Hail Mary passes. On one play, Huard threw into the end zone, T.C. Taylor batted the ball up and it softly landed in the hands of Donald Hayes.