The hope of training camp is that a team is able to prepare for every scenario that it will have to face during the regular season. The Patriots took another step in that direction Monday morning on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium with a spirited, full-pads practice under rather soggy, adverse conditions.
The 8:45 a.m. workout kicked off under heavy rain and while the rain stopped by the end of the practice, the soggy fields made for anything but ideal conditions throughout. So while it was nothing like the total mud-fest the Patriots battled the Ravens in last November, it was a good experience for the team at this point in the summer.
"Working outside in the rain this morning [we had] little bit of wet conditions, wet ball wet field, learning to kind of play with our feet under us and play in those elements," Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said in his morning press conference. "It is always good, especially early in the year to get it at some point just so we can get accustomed to it and familiarize ourselves with the different elements that I am sure we will face at one point or another during the season. Maybe not as bad as what we saw with Baltimore last year, but certainly elements of a wet field, wet ball and just moisture in the air, how it affects some of the techniques and some of the things your are able to do."
Despite the dreary conditions, the team brought a lot of energy to the two-hour session, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The defenders were very vocal in team drills and celebrated standout plays in a loud, group fashion.
"I think that's always a good thing to see," Belichick said of the spirit displayed by his blue-clad defenders. "I think it's always good to see players communicating, to come out there at 8:30 in the morning and be alert, be ready to go and have some energy. Of course a lot of times that energy is stimulated by a positive play or positive performance and that sometimes sets the tone for succeeding plays as it does in a game. It's good and it was good defensively today. It looked like they were running around, having fun and trying to be on top of their game and communicate that to each other."
Tom Brady once again did very little throwing during the morning workout. Backups Rohan Davey, Doug Flutie and Matt Cassel took all of the reps during team and group work.
Belichick said Brady is not on a specific schedule that limits his throwing on certain days, rather his practice reps are a byproduct of the team looking to get a better look at the other three quarterbacks on the rosters, especially New England newcomers Flutie and Cassel.
"He did throw today but his reps in practice are a little bit of a function of which of the other players are getting them," Belichick said. "It's hard to get four quarterbacks the amount of reps so that they are really productive within one practice. So we shifted that around a little bit and some practices some guys get more than others. That's the way it was last week. That's the way it is this week. It's probably the way it will be next week too. We have two players that haven't really played any football at all for this organization. The only way to evaluate them is to see them play."
After sitting out last Friday night's preseason opener in Cincinnati, look for Brady to make his preseason debut on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium against the Saints.
"Tom will play," Belichick said.
NotesThe team had a little more fun at the expense of the rookies at the end of practice. The squad moved to the far end of the practice fields and lined up shielding their actions from the fans and media. It appeared the rookies did a drill called Monkey rolls (with players on the ground rolling while a teammate hops over and then the players hop over another teammate) while being sprayed with water. The rookies then took turns running and sliding on their stomachs in the wet grass to great applause from the veterans. … The entire list of players not participating in practice included David Terrell, P.K. Sam, Cedric James, Randall Gay, Duane Starks, Corey Dillon (awaiting the birth of his second child), Cedric Cobbs, Rodney Harrison, Andre Torrey, Ryan Claridge, Tully Banta-Cain, Mike Vrabel, Brandon Gorin, Troy Brown, Jed Weaver, Santonio Thomasand Ty Warren. … The most entertaining play of the day saw backup linebacker Don Davis intercept Flutie on a pass over the middle of the field in a team drill. Flutie then tried to make the tackle as Davis ran toward the end zone, but the linebacker thwarted the effort by easily tossing the diminutive passer to the ground and continuing for the score. … Linebacker Monty Beisel wore the customary red, non-contact jersey over his blue No. 44 shirt, although he seemed to take normal reps in just about every drill. … With Harrison sitting out, rookie James Sanders took the reps at safety alongside Eugene Wilson with the first unit. … Tom Ashworth continues to get plenty of reps as a he shows his versatility on the offensive line. Monday morning he took the first-team reps at right tackle as well as second-team reps at left tackle. … Rohan Davey and Jason Anderson hooked up on a nice throw and jumping catch in front of Hank Poteat in a one-on-one drill. … Tyrone Poole had a very productive morning session picking off a number of passes. He also made a nice late break on a deep ball from Davey intended for Tim Dwight. … Flutie connected on the offensive play of the day when he hit Deion Branch deep down the middle of the field, beating second-year safety Dexter Reid in a seven-on-seven drill. … Matt Cassel continues to show off his strong arm, this time hitting Eugene Baker on a deep out in front of Chad Scott. … With Vrabel absent, Beisel was once again with the ones at inside linebacker next to Chad Brown. Rodney Bailey continues to take first-team reps at defensive end with Warren out of action. … Despite the slippery conditions, Dwight looked explosive returning kicks in a special teams segment near the end of practice. … The team returns to the practice field Monday night at 5:30 p.m.