The Patriots returned to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for a single, intense full pads session Monday afternoon. With the contact and competition at a high level for most of the two-hour session the action focused on some early work on fundamentals followed by a continuation of the situational action the team worked on during Sunday's morning session.
]()One of the first fundamental drills focused on pass rushing and pass protection. In one area of the field the outside linebackers went one-on-one with the tight ends, while elsewhere the inside linebackers worked with the running backs. Veteran Matt Chatham was the star defensive player of the inside linebacker group, beating Patrick Pass, Kory Chapman and Corey Dillon on his three reps with a spin move, juke move and power move respectively. The star of the running backs was Kevin Faulk, who despite his diminutive stature did a good job of shutting down just about every backer he faced.
Later in practice the action between the offensive and defensive skill players moved to a 7-on-7 drill that took place in the red area, with down and distance markers included to add to the situational work. The defense had the early advantage in the drill as Asante Samuel blanketed David Givens in the end zone. The pendulum then swung the other way as Tom Brady hit Benjamin Watson on the goal line for the score. Not long afterwards, Brady hit Patrick Pass, who had soundly beaten second-year safety Dexter Reid, for another score.
Veteran tight end Jed Weaver continued to impress in the drill as he battles for a roster spot. First Weaver caught a touchdown pass from Rohan Davey. Then he hauled in a pair of scores on consecutive plays from rookie quarterback Matt Cassel.
After a bit of special teams work focusing on the kickoff team, the physicality returned for the final situational segment focusing hurry-up offense and defense. The offense started with the ball around midfield with less than two minutes on the clock. In the drill, Brady quickly moved his team down the field with a pair of completions down the right side to Watson. A pass out of bounds then stopped the clock with 0:04 seconds to play, enough for a short Adam Vinatieri field goal attempt. Bill Belichick brought even greater reality to the drill by calling a timeout to ice his own kicker as the field goal team ran on the field. The coach even went so far as to toss his visor at holder Josh Miller just prior to the snap in an effort to disrupt the timing of the play, but not surprisingly Belichick's efforts failed as Vinatieri split the uprights despite the icing timeout and illegal distraction.
Cassel then got his chance to work the hurry-up drive, again with less than two minutes on the practice field clock. Cassel hit on his first three passes, completions to wide receiver David Terrell, Pass and Christian Fauria. The quarterback then hit Fauria in the chest on a short slant route nearing the goal line, unfortunately for the rookie the ball bounced off the pads of his tight end and deflected into the waiting hands of inside linebacker Chad Brown. The interception ended the drive and essentially ended the afternoon practice session, what may have been the most spirited and energetic workout of the early days of camp.
Dwight hits the field
Free agent wide receiver addition Tim Dwight was removed from the physically unable to perform list and participated in his first practice in a New England uniform Monday afternoon. Dwight had been recovering from January surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot, missing the team's June mini-camp and start of training camp.
While the veteran speedster struggled at times in his first action in a Patriots uniform, including a number of dropped passes, he was happy to be on the field and putting his work in the playbook to use.
"It felt good [to get out there]," Dwight said. "Seeing the offense on paper is one thing, but actually getting in the huddle and hearing it and trying to maneuver around guys and get in the right spot – it was kind of a little slow. But I expected that. At the same time you have a level where you want to play at and I expect myself to step in and just play well. It's just a process over these next couple of weeks that hopefully I can keep building on."
And the bottom line was that as a veteran who loves football, loves to compete and wants to prove what he can do in New England, Dwight was just happy to be doing what the rest of the team was doing for the first time this summer.
"It was fun to be back out there. I felt like a part of the team with my pads on."
]()Weis addresses team**
Former Patriots offensive coordinator and current University of Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis addressed the team in a group huddle prior to the start of the afternoon practice.
"He just told us how much he appreciated us winning and helping him get a job. We didn't get too many expletives," wide receiver Troy Brown said with a laugh, an obvious reference to Weis' penchant for using some rather colorful language at times on the football field.
It was the Patriots second consecutive workout with Weis in attendance.
NotesThe team released third-year nose tackle Ethan Kelley on Monday. The 6-2, 310-pound former seventh-round pick had yet to practice in camp. He spent the first few days of practice on non-football injury list after reportedly failing the team's conditioning run. The team also released wide receiver Jake Schifino. … Belichick once again addressed the status of running backs coach Ivan Fears who has missed the start of camp with a "health matter." In his absence the team's director of pro personnel Nick Caserio has handled the coaching of the backs. "Nick has done an outstanding job from a week ago working on pro personnel and going through all of those personnel evaluations and all of that to be able to make the transition. I spoke to Ivan last night. He is doing well. I think we will see him soon. I don't know what soon means, as soon as he's ready, that's what it means. He'll be back. When he is ready, he will be back. I don't think it will be that long." … With Richard Seymour's holdout reaching its fifth day, Belichick addressed, in a general sense, the issue of missing training camp action in today's shorter camp setting than in the old days when teams prepared for the regular season for two months or longer. "The shorter amount of time you have, the more important those weeks are. So, missing two weeks out of a four-week camp obviously is a lot different than missing two weeks out of an eight-week camp. That is important." … The list of players not taking part in the afternoon session included Willie McGinest, Daniel Graham, P.K. Sam, Ricky Bryant, Marquise Hill, Bethel Johnson, Chad Morton, Cedric James and Monty Beisel. Johnson and Morton remain on PUP, while Hill was the only newcomer to the list of DNPs. … At one point in practice Beisel was working alone hitting a one-man sled on the far sideline of the practice fields. … With Beisel and McGinest out of action, Chad Brown and Vrabel took the first team reps at inside linebacker with Tully Banta-Cain and Rosevelt Colvin on the outside. … Guss Scott got a number of reps with the first unit at safety alongside Rodney Harrison in both regular and sub defenses. … Cornerback remains one of the most competitive positions in camp. Monday Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks worked with the first unit at times, although Randall Gay and Asante Samuel did as well. … David Terrell ran sprints and cutting drills with trainer Jim Whalen early in practice, but returned to the group of wide receivers and participated in the rest of practice. … Wide receiver Bam Childress, one of the most impressive lesser-known players through the early days of camp, has taken to doing pushups any time he fails to catch a pass. … Jarvis Green and Vince Wilfork served as the only two down linemen in what appeared to be a top nickel unit. … First-round pick Logan Mankins showed solid pulling ability from his left guard spot in leading the way for Dillon on a screen pass down the left sideline by making a nice block on Vrabel. That's a good sign for the former Fresno State player who started at left tackle for his entire collegiate career. … The action at right tackle continues [
]()to vary by the day. Brandon Gorin held the spot with the first group Monday while Tom Ashworth, who has also worked on the right side at times with the ones, worked at left tackle with the second unit. … Brady and Troy Brown connected on the play of the day, beating Poole for a long, leaping acrobatic catch down the deep middle. … Brady and Givens just missed on a number of close calls in the red zone drill in the corner of the end zone, with a few balls just out of the reach of the receiver's outstretched hands. … One of the things about being a rookie at training camp is that the young players have to carry the shoulder pads of the veterans off the field. Monday that had linebackersRyan Claridge and Andre Torrey hauling three pairs of helmets/pads to the locker room each, that's in addition to their own equipment.