While the hitting lightened up a bit Monday afternoon, the Patriots seemed to remain just as intense and crisp as they were in the more physical morning session. With the exception of a few individual lapses, the players seemed to show few ill effects from the continued bright skies, heat and humidity.
Dressed in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets, the afternoon session began just as the morning one had. The group of youngsters, Jarvis Green, David Givens, T.C. Taylor, Rohan Davey, Daniel Graham, and Deion Branch, led off practice with three trips running back and forth across the field. Head Coach Bill Belichick must have felt that the extra running in the morning had not sufficiently gotten his message across to the players and extended the message into the afternoon session.
As for the meat of the practice, much of the session was spent focusing on positional drills, situational work and sub packages. A one on one drill between the wide receivers and the defensive backs was highlighted by a number of big catches for the offense. Tom Brady connected on a long ball with David Patten to beat the coverage of Ty Law. Brady later connected with rookie Branch on a long ball over the middle to beat Antwan Harris, who got turned around on the play. Brady looked sharp on most of his throws during the day, especially his long balls in this drill. Backup Damon Huard got in on the fun as well when he connected with Jimmy Farris, who made a diving catch for the second straight day. He jumped and turned back to catch the ball as he was falling away from Huard. The catch brought on a modest reaction from the slightly smaller, but attentive Bryant College crowd.
In another drill the offense worked on some of its multiple receiver sets as the defense worked on its nickel and dime packages. Although it is early and there have been a few combinations, the nickel appeared to consist of the Ty Law, Otis Smith, Lawyer Milloy, Tebucky Jones and Victor Green. The dime package brought the addition of Antwan Harris, who continues to practice wearing a contact-limiting red jersey.
The special teams portion of practice focused on the punt return unit. Branch, Kevin Faulk and Troy Brown continued to work as the deep men. At the line of scrimmage Milloy, Jones, Law, Smith and Chris Hayes took turns double teaming and dominating the group of scout team gunners that included former Notre Damers Brock Williams and David Givens.
The team moved on to work on down-and-distance situations and showed yet another version of its offensive line. Thanks to the retirement of Rich Tylski and injuries to Joe Andruzzi, Grey Ruegamer and Matt Light, the o-line has been somewhat of a patchwork unit. For the afternoon session the first group included Mike Compton at center, Kenyatta Jones at left tackle, Adrian Klemm at left guard, Damien Woody at right guard and Grant Williams at right tackle.
The final significant session of the afternoon's practice worked on the hurry-up, two-minute offense. The offense started with the ball on their own 40-yard line with 1:30 on the clock and one timeout. The Brady-led first offense moved its way down the field, but in the end weren't able to crack the defense and could not score. During the drive Brady completed a fourth down play to Troy Brown. He also completed two passes to Patten and one to Branch, all in front of Otis Smith. Both sides showed some impressive flashes during the drill, although the edge has to go with the defense as the kept their offensive counterparts out of the end zone.
During the final session of two-minute work, players not involved in the session ran a series of 10-yard sprints with assistant strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul on the adjacent practice field. … Monday afternoon marked the first scuffle of camp. Defensive lineman Riddick Parker and offensive lineman Stephen Neal remained locked up following a play. Neal, a former world-class wrestler, registered the take down on Parker. A few players from each side of the ball jumped in and the fracas soon dispersed. … Anthony Pleasant and T.C. Taylor ran the customary punishment lap at separate times during the practice. … Farris had another strong day at wide receiver. In addition to his diving sideline catch he had a diving grab in front of Harris over the middle of the field. … Ruegamer and defensive lineman Jace Sayler were the only two additions to the injury list. Neither dressed for the afternoon session.