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Monday evening practice notes

The passing game was the focus of the work Monday evening on both sides of the ball as the Patriots continue to prepare for Thursday night’s preseason home opener against the Saints at Gillette Stadium.

The Patriots took to the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium for Monday's evening practice dressed in shorts, helmets and pads, but the lack of football pants didn't decrease the intensity or overall energy of the two-hour workout. Much like the team had done in the morning session, individual and team drills turned into spirited, vocal competition between the blue-clad defenders and offensive players in the white jerseys.

That intensity brought extra life to the practice, with much of the work focused on passing situations and sub personnel packages on both sides of the ball. The work in the team segments, which included a lot of dime looks on both sides of the ball, saw the New England units running plays against a scout team that worked off cards as the team continues to prepare for the regular season as well as Thursday's matchup with the Saints.

Unlike the morning session, quarterback Tom Brady was a full participant in Monday evening's workout. Brady led the first unit in a variety of drills and team work.

As was the case with the morning workout, the defense was the more vocal of the two units led by the very audible declarations of veterans like Rosevelt Colvin and Willie McGinest.



]()The highlight of the competitive workout came in the final few segments of team work that also included some hurry up action that pitted the ones against the ones. Defensively, Monty Beisel and Matt Chatham took the first team reps at inside linebacker with a defensive line of Jarvis Green, Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork. The first regular secondary included Asante Samuel, Tyrone Poole, Rodney Harrison and Eugene Wilson. When the group went to the dime package rookie safety James Sanders and Chad Scott joined the mix.

The first offense used a three wide receiver formation with just Kevin Faulk in the backfield for most of the team action. Faulk got a couple nice runs in from the passing formation, while Brady hit on early connections with Benjamin Watson and Troy Brown.

When the offense went to the hurry up, Brady struggled a little leading the ones. After a short completion to Deion Branch, he was unable to complete a pass to Brown who was well covered by Poole and then overthrew a screen pass to Faulk. It got even worse for the first offense as Brady threw behind and to the inside of Branch deep down the left side as the receiver broke for the sideline. Chad Scott had good coverage on the play and picked off the pass.

Doug Flutie led the second offense in the hurry-up on a drive down to the goal line behind a few completions to wide receiver Jason Anderson. Flutie even used a QB sneak to get the first down on a fourth-and-one play.

That drive stalled at the goal line before the group could score, though, and the team finished up practice with three sprints to work on the group's overall conditioning.



]()Watson working back**

After returning to practice on Sunday for the first time since Aug. 2, Patriots second-year tight end Benjamin Watson is still working to get back to full speed. Watson took part in both practice sessions Monday and also did some extra running on his own in between regular drills.

"Any time you miss it's going to set you back," Watson said. "No matter who you are. It's just about coming out here working hard, getting your timing back and I'll get back with it."

Watson would not say if the undisclosed injury that kept him out of action was related to the knee injury that cost him all but one game of his rookie season.

"I'd rather not talk about what the deal was," Watson said. "You know how it is, but they decided not to have me go out there last week.

"It's always hard when you miss work. I had a lot of experience doing that last year because I wasn't out there at all. It's definitely hard, but I'm glad I'm out there now."

The Patriots placed rookie linebacker Ryan Claridge on injured reserve with a shoulder injury on Monday. The team subsequently signed first-year free agent defensive lineman Ifo Pili. The 6-3, 340-pounder out of Brigham Young University spent the conclusion of last season, including Super Bowl XXXIX, on the Philadelphia practice squad. The undrafted free agent was cut by the Texans in training camp a year ago. Pili wore jersey No. 99 for Monday's evening practice. … Dan Klecko and Dan Koppen took turns trying to return punts from Josh Miller prior to the start of practice. … A trio of geese performed the traditional flyover just before the horn that got the evening session underway. … After wearing a red non-contact jersey in the morning session, Beisel wore just his customary blue No. 44 jersey for the evening. … Troy Brown, Kevin FaulkandHank Poteattook in the punts from Miller in team punt return work. … The list of players not participating in the evening session included Ty Warren, Randall Gay, Chad Morton, Guss Scott, David Terrell, Bethel Johnson, Tim Dwight, Jed Weaver, P.K. Sam, Santonio Thomas, Christian Fauria, Brandon Gorin, Chad Brown, Duane Starks, Andre Torrey, Cedric Cobbs, Cedric JamesandCorey Dillon, who was with his wife, Desiree, still awaiting the birth of the couple's second child. … Linebacker Tully Banta-Cain returned to the practice fields. … The special teams segments of practice focused on the punting game, including individual work for the vice guys on punt return while others worked on punt block paths to the punter. … The entire offense had to run a lap for not having enough men in the huddle during one team drill. When the unit returned from the lap Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick called the entire unit together for a few words before sending them back to the action. … The team will return to the field Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. for the final public training camp practice of 2005.

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