After Friday night's preseason opener, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said that his team's passing offense struggled in every phase. In Tuesday's full-pads afternoon practice, it was still out of sync.
With the team preparing for its second summer exhibition game this weekend at Cincinnati, the defense virtually dominated the Patriots passing attack in every aspect Tuesday with a few exceptions.
Cornerback Asante Samuel led the assault, intercepting Tom Brady once and Rohan Davey once during full-team drills. Brady's errant pass is believed to be only his second interception of training camp. Samuel's second interception came one pass after Rodney Harrison also intercepted Davey.
Kliff Kingsbury didn't fare much better when his number was called, with Shawn Mayer corralling one of his errant throws for the defense's fourth interception during the team portion of practice.
Brady was nearly picked off a second time when Richard Seymour got both hands on a swing pass to Kevin Faulk, but was unable to hold on. In fairness to the offense, that play typically requires the left tackle to cut block the defensive end so that he cannot get into the passing lane, but since the players make a concerted effort to stay on their feet during practice to avoid unnecessary injuries, left tackle Adrian Klemm did not execute that block, but just engaged Seymour momentarily.
Brady did exact some revenge running against a scout defense when he perfectly executed a play action fake and hit David Patten on a deep route down the middle for a touchdown over Randall Gay on what had to be the offensive play of the day. David Givens also made a nifty catch during the workout with his body leaning out of bounds, but his toes barely inside the field of play.
At the start of practice, the team walked through some of the plays it ran during the team portion before special teams coach Brad Seely took over and worked on kickoff coverage. It's always interesting to keep an eye on how the depth chart is shaping up on special teams because it can offer some insight into who may have a leg up on final roster spots, although with three preseason games remaining, those coverage and return teams are certainly subject to change.
The first coverage team included Shawn Mayer, Patrick Pass, Dan Klecko, Eric Alexander, Don Davis, Larry Izzo, Dexter Reid, Tully Banta-Cain, David Patten and Guss Scott. It should be noted, though, that special teams ace Je'Rod Cherry remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
The second coverage team included Eugene Wilson, Fred McCrary, Banta-Cain, Benjamin Watson, Malaefou Mackenzie, Mike Cloud, Scott Farley, Justin Kurpeikis, Chas Gessner and Asante Samuel.
Later, during a break from full-team work, Seely switched things around and worked on kickoff returns. The front line of the first group consisted of Scott, Daniel Graham, Izzo, Davis and Mayer. Behind them in the diamond group were Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Fred McCrary and Adrian Klemm. The second group consisted of Farley, Kurpeikis, Alexander, Watson and Reid up front with Klecko, Mackenzie, Banta-Cain and Stephen Neal rotating with Vince Wilfork behind. The returners were Patten, Michael Jennings, Kevin Faulk and Bethel Johnson.
The special teamers also ran through the open field tackle drill in which a cone alley is set up and two players lie on their back about 10 yards apart. Both then jump up and one player attempts to make an open field tackle on the ball carrier.
One of the more impressive aspects of training camp is watching some of the veteran players not involved in a particular special teams segment use their idle time. Players like Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour and others can often be found doing sprints, sit-ups and push-ups during down time. Law, incidentally, was not at practice on Tuesday for an undisclosed reason.
Speaking of missing practice, the following players also were out of action: J.J. Stokes, Andy Mignery, Ted Johnson, Matt Chatham, Troy Brown, P.K. Sam, Christian Morton, Cody Scates, Cherry and Jim Miller. Dana Stubblefield was not on the field for the third straight day and Belichick said that his newest defensive lineman had "a sore leg."
Pats sign tight end: The Patriots signed tight end Joel Jacobs on Tuesday. Jacobs, 6-3, 250, signed with the Rams on June 2 and was recently released by the club. He played collegiately at the University of Nebraska-Kearney where he finished his career with 66 receptions for 623 yards and six touchdowns, including 27 catches for 228 yards as a senior. He is one of three players in the school's history to be named first team All Rocky Mountain Conference three times. He wore jersey No. 41 at practice. ... The Patriots also announced they have traded Quinn Dorsey to the Chicago Bears for a future draft pick
A Jumbo of a time: Tufts head football coach Bill Samko and the rest of his Jumbos staff were on hand for Tuesday's workout. Tufts is the alma mater of Dan Kraft (and PFW staff writer Andy Hart).
Shave and a haircut: The rookies received their annual trims Monday night and looked … well … different for Tuesday's practice. The veterans never go easy in the haircut department. Some players receive a straight buzz while others received some form of a Mohawk. Punter Cody Scates, who is injured and didn't wear a helmet during practice, had a well-groomed Mohawk. Others weren't so lucky, getting just a tail and sideburns left on their head.
Grahambo: Daniel Graham has been criticized in recent years for inconsistent hands, but his blocking has never been questioned. During some running game work featuring backs, offensive linemen and tight ends against defensive linemen and linebackers, Graham made a beautiful seal block that set Corey Dillon free off the edge.
Blackhawks touch down in Foxborough: Two Blackhawk helicopters landed in the Gillette Stadium parking lots Tuesday as 13 members of the U.S. 86th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) visited Patriots practice. The men were stationed at Eagle Base in Bosnia as part of Operation Joint Forge and had requested a New England Patriots flag last year. The team sent the flag and while it was flying over their Bosnian base, the Patriots were undefeated while on their way to a Super Bowl championship, a game the soldiers enjoyed from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. local time. The men presented Patriots Owner Robert Kraft with the framed flag on Tuesday before taking in the team's workout from the sideline between the Patriots practice fields.