As the story goes, it's NFL training and it's supposed to be hot. But on Sunday the heat got to be a bit too much for a pair of Patriots as offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Rich Ohrnberger were carted off the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium under the duress of the extreme heat that's hit town in the tale end of training camp.
Mankins returned to action for full participation in a full pads practice Monday morning, while Ohrnberger remained out of action.
"I'm alive and well," Mankins said with a smile after practice while approaching a group of waiting reporters. "It was just a little cramping. It was nothing serious. Just the legs locked up.
"The knees weren't working."
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick admitted it gives everyone a pause for concern when a player doesn't bounce up after a play or drill, regardless of the exact situation.
"You never like to see a player on the ground, period," Belichick said. "Whether it's the end of a play or heat, or whatever it is. You always kind of hold your breath any time that happens."
The heat, specifically, is something that's taken very seriously this time of year all across the NFL. Long before yesterday's intense temperatures and the scare for a couple players, the team had been counseled on the subject.
"Our trainers and doctors have talked to the players about that since the beginning of training camp. We didn't wait till yesterday," Belichick said. "All that's been put on the table early and we do take all the steps, all the medical steps that department feels are necessary, and there are a number of them, to deal with it. That's their area of expertise. They do a good job of preparing the players for that and also monitoring it. We know we're going to have to play in it. So it's something we're going to have to deal with and condition for."
The heat issue has been at the forefront of training camp precautions since former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringerdied in a heat-related camp tragedy in 2001.
"That never entered my mind, but when you think about it that is a scary situation," Mankins observed.
"But we need to get used to it. Teams all through the league are probably practicing in hotter weather than this down in the south. So we have to get prepared for that kind of weather."
Second-year linebacker Jerod Mayo took on the challenging conditions with a smile, having dealt with such elements in his collegiate career.
"It reminds me of Tennessee weather, so it's nice," Mayo said with smile after the morning session, though adding that Sunday's fallen teammates didn't go unnoticed. "It just reminds you to drink a lot, to drink a lot of water. You don't usually get this kind of heat out here in this area. But I'm pretty used to it coming from Tennessee, Virginia and things like that. So it's not that bad."
Mankins learned his hydration lesson as well.
"A lot of Gatorade, electrolytes," Mankins said of his speedy return to action. "It must have worked, I made it this far."
Smith tradedFourth-year defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith was literally called off the practice fields to be notified that he'd been traded to the Denver Broncos Monday morning. According the published reported Smith was sent along with a seventh-round pick to Denver in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. That pick will subsequently be used to complete a previous summer trade, the one that brought *Derrick Burgess from Oakland for what is now a third- and a fifth-round pick.
"We'll see how all that works out. There are still a couple, I'd say wrinkles that need to be ironed out in the whole deal," Belichick confirmed. "But, yeah, it is and could be related, it should be related to the Oakland trade for Derrick."
RB Chris Taylor signed; CB Richardson, WR White goneOn what was a busy day for the roster, New England also added veteran free agent running back Chris Taylor while releasing cornerback Mike Richardson and placing rookie free agent wide receiver *Shun White on the reserve/military list.
The third-year running back out of Indiana ended each of the last two seasons on injured reserve with the Texans. The 5-11, 220-pounder wore No. 35 in white for the morning session and had previously worked out for the Patriots before training camp.
"We felt t like he'd be a good addition and would be competitive in this camp," Belichick said of Taylor, who rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown on 28 attempts in four games played as an undrafted rookie in 2006. He played in three games last fall with 37 yards on 14 attempts
"Really, they just said we need you to come in and help out," Taylor said of getting the call after being out of football since Houston released him with an injury settlement last October. "I've been patient. I've been working out. So I'm ready."
The addition gives the Patriots six running backs on the depth chart. Belichick said that number was the plan heading toward training camp before Navy's Eric Kettani had to be placed on the reserve/military list.
"I think that's actually a better number for us to work with," Belichick said. "We we're trying to be at that before, it just didn't work out that way for a while. I think if anything we're on the border line of too few backs as opposed to too many."
White joins his fellow Navy teammates Kettani and Tyree Barnes on New England's reserve/military list as he was recalled to active duty. With Monday's moves – adding one player while removing three from the active roster – the Patriots now have a pair of openings on the 80-man training camp roster.
Those players not on the field for the morning included Chris Hanson, Shawn Springs, Sammy Morris, Paris Lenon, Ohrnberger, George "Bus" Bussey, Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Benjamin Watson, Tyson DeVree, Richard Seymour, Shawn Crableand Mike Wright. Brandon Tate remains on NFI, Mark LeVoir on PUP and *Tyrone McKenzie injured/unsigned.
Jonathan Wilhite, who is reportedly dealing with a shoulder injury, wore a red, non-contact jersey for the session.
NotesIn discussing the Smith trade, Belichick said he has talks with most NFL teams this time of year comparing roster depth, "there are probably four or five of those conversations every day or two," before adding that most don't end in a deal. "For every 50 discussions you might have less than one trade." He joked that there are "one or two teams" that he doubts they'd have such trade talks/deals with, but wouldn't allow the media to wage guesses as to which teams those were. … List Mayo among those excited by the potential of the new-look New England defense and the different looks it will be able to throw at an offense. "We have so much talent on the defensive side of the ball we have to find a way to get everybody on the field. So rolling those personnel groups out is going to be a major part of our defense." … Monday's morning workout was the 24th training camp practice, the 17th in full pads. … After all the talk of New England working in 4-3 fronts early in the preseason, there were plenty of 3-4 looks on Monday. The 34 look included Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork and *Jarvis Green across the front backed by linebackers Adalius Thomas, Mayo, Gary Guyton and Pierre Woods. Tedy Bruschi was in the next group of inside linebackers along with *Eric Alexander. … Sebastian "Sea Bass" Vollmer *ook reps at both right and left tackle with a group that included guards Mankins and *Stephen Neal *ad *Dan Koppen at center. Vollmer had been getting reps primarily at left tackle, his position in college at Houston, to this point in camp. … Much of the group and team work in the session focused on the running game, both inside and outside. … The practice closed out with some red zone and goal line work. In that portion of the action the defense seemed to stymie the offense on the ground, while the white-clad group found pay dirt on a pair of touchdown passes to David Thomas *an *Alex Smith. … In a growing trend among the defenders, Mayo did pushups on the sideline in between reps. … Mayo wore the defensive player communication device in his helmet for the Philly game, something he did a handful of times as a rookie. How does he find out he's going to wear the device? "Things around here change so much, I come to my locker and I have a green dot on my helmet. So you just take it in stride." … In light of Usain Bolt's new world record in the 100m a reporter was asking players and Belichick which Patriot was the fastest. Belichick wouldn't answer, but Mayo narrowed it down to either Terrence Wheatley or Matthew Slater. … The Patriots return to the practice field Monday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. for the day's second double-session workout.
Who's Hot: David Thomas. The veteran tight end had a number of nice blocks out of the backfield in the preseason opener Thursday night. Monday he caught a touchdown in red zone work, while also throwing his body around a few more times from the fullback position.
Who's Not:Tedy Bruschi. No. 54 is admittedly working his way back into camp shape. But he had some confusion working alongside Eric Alexander leading to the pair being out of position at the snap in one rep on Monday.
Play of the Day:Terrence Nunn put on a practice show once again with an all-out diving reception down the left sideline on a ball thrown by Brian Hoyer. Nunn was covered by Leigh Bodden off the line and James Sanders tried to help over the top, but the first-year free agent bounced to a stop on the turf with the ball in his hands, although he may have been out of bounds. Either way, it was a great catch.