The Patriots lone practice on Tuesday, their final workout open to the public before Thursday's preseason opener against the Giants, featured a slight change to the starting lineup. Rick Lyle took Jarvis Green's spot at nose tackle and worked with the first unit.
"I've been getting some reps at nose," Lyle said. "There's a saying in this business: The more you can do the more valuable you are. It's kind of a case of trying to get some reps there so my value's up and I can help out my team any way I can."
Lyle worked in a front with Bobby Hamilton on the left and Richard Seymour on the right in the base 3-4 set. The 10th-year veteran has played both end and tackle during his career, which includes stints with the Jets, Ravens and Brown, but hasn't spent any time at the nose. Despite that, he's been told he'll get the starting nod there against the Giants.
"I started [playing nose] about a week ago, you guys just never noticed me before" Lyle said with a laugh.
Late last season Lyle played some inside but mostly as a tackle. When injuries and Steve Martin's ineffectiveness created the need for more depth there, Lyle made the switch from end, but did so playing the three technique (the inside tackle in a 4-3) rather than a true nose, where the zero technique plays directly over the center.
"The defense is left or right so it can be the three or nose," Lyle explained. "The main thing at that position is just staying low and knowing where the blocks can come from. I've played tackle some but not a true nose tackle before."
With Lyle in the middle, the defense enjoyed an overall solid afternoon in the heat and humidity in Foxborough. Working in two-minute and goal line situations, the blue shirts came out on top more often than not.
Rosevelt Colvin came up with a nice play in coverage when he knocked down a Rohan Davey pass intended for Dedric Ward. Later, Asante Samuel made what will likely be the easiest interception of his career when he grabbed Davey's pass near the goal line. Davey was trying to hit tight end Spencer Nead and forced his throw despite tight coverage. Samuel would have run a long way with only 100 yards of green grass separating him from the end zone.
The offense was not without its moments, though. Tom Brady enjoyed one of his best days throwing the ball thus far in camp. He opened practice with a perfectly throw deep ball to David Patten during a third-down situational drill but the wideout couldn't hang on. But the two hooked up moments later against a scout team defense for a big gain.
Brady later made terrific throws down the seam to Daniel Graham and Larry Centers, both during a seven-on-seven drill against a Giants scout defense.
The dime package got a lot of work with Samuel, Eugene Wilson, Lawyer Milloy, Rodney Harrison, Tyrone Poole and Antwan Harris comprising the secondary. Leonard Myers came in with the second group and came up with an interception when he worked his way in front of rookie Bethel Johnson and took Damon Huard's pass. … Newcomer Thabiti Davis made a nice grab in the end zone against the first unit. Huard operated a seven-on-seven drill and lofted a pass to his left and Davis lunged with outstretched arms to make the catch in traffic. … Joe Andruzzi and Willie McGinest both participated in practice for the second straight day. … With Thursday's game slated to be nationally televised by ESPN, announcers Joe Theismann and Suzy Kolber took in practice. … Poole, Ward and Johnson rotated returning punts and all did a nice job handling the kicks in rather windy conditions. If not for a Ward mishandle on the final kick, the ball wouldn't have hit the ground once. … David Givens received a pat on the back from special teams coach Brad Seely for his work as a gunner during the drill. … Givens also made a heads-up play when he was the intended receiver on a wide receiver screen that fell incomplete. As all Patriots know, if the pass traveled backward, it would be a live ball so Givens took no chances and raced to cover it. … The Patriots practice on Wednesday is closed to the media and public.