After several days of short practices, New England was on the field for more than two hours, possibly the longest session of camp thus far.
The players were back in shoulder pads and helmets as they continued to work on goal line situations. While the work consisted mostly of passing plays, the drills coincided with the goal line walk-throughs held during the early workout.
Wide receivers Troy Brown and Charles Johnson looked especially sharp in a passing drill in which the offense ran plays from the 8-yard line in effort to score. On the second play of the drill Brown was matched up against Ty Law and gave such a strong fake that Law nearly fell over trying to react. Law caught a touchdown pass from Damon Huard, and Law could do nothing but clap and nod in acknowledgement of the strong route.
Johnson had three consecutive scores. He made things look easy against Matt Stevens and then made solid grabs against Terrell Buckley and Je'Rod Cherry. Also coming up with grabs were David Patten, Tony Simmons and Curtis Jackson. Bert Emanuel ended the series with a quality leaping snag over Ray Hill in the back corner of the end zone.
On the first of two sets of special teams drills the focus was punt coverage from various areas of the field. The punt team started in the back of its own end zone and worked its way up the field with each snap. Running back J.R. Redmond managed to break through for the scout team to block his second Lee Johnson punt of the week.
Later in practice the special teams units worked on receiving on-sides kicks, which was a focus of the kickers during the morning. The first-string hands team consisted of Stevens, Rod Rutledge, Tedy Bruschi, Rob Holmberg, Larry Izzo, Antico Dalton, Mike Vrabel, Tony George, Troy Brown, Jermaine Wiggins and David Patten.
Between the kicking game drills, the team went back to working in the red area again. Wiggins, who has been seeing more snaps with the first-team offense, got things started with a nice one-handed grab from Huard. On the next play Huard found Patten in the back of the end zone for a score. Patten reached high for the ball and managed to keep his feet in bounds as he worked for control of the pass.
The defense did come up with two turnovers in the drill. Tom Brady and Brown connected on a pass short of the goal line, but Brown was stripped by Holmberg, and Stevens came up with it. Shortly after that rookie Walter Williams fumbled on a run. Rookie Jace Sayler recovered the ball, and he and fellow rookie T.J. Turner were the one who met Williams at the line. The drop was the second of camp for the back.
The day ended with a series of Hail Mary attempts. Safety Tebucky Jones appeared to knock several of the balls away.
Woody the latest to get nicked
The goal heading into camp was to set five guys as the starting offensive line as early as possible. Now none of the original five have spent every practice in the first unit, with center Damien Woody missing most of the afternoon with a knee injury.
Woody sat at midfield with an ice pack on the knee while Grey Ruegamer moved in with the first group. The severity of Woody's injury is not certain, but it did not appear very serious. Already before Woody guards Mike Compton (calf) and Joe Andruzzi (back), tackles Matt Light (ankle) and Kenyatta Jones (shoulder) have missed time, and guard Joe Panos retired. Tackles Adrian Klemm and Greg Robinson-Randall have remained healthy, but they have moved back-and-forth between the first and second lines.
Also on the injury front, quarterback Drew Bledsoe did not practice in the afternoon. Wide receiver Shockmain Davis injured his foot during the late practice.