After having Thursday morning off from practice, the Patriots returned to the field this afternoon in full pads at Bryant College. In order to give the normal set of practice fields a rest, the team gave the fans a new perspective on camp by practicing at the 3,200 seat Bulldog Stadium in front of a large crowd under the sweltering afternoon sun.
Aside from the practice being limited to a single field and taking place on the laser-graded, specially grown grass, the practice ran in a similar fashion to most of its predecessors. The opening segment revolved around a number of positional and group drills focusing on technique and fundamentals.
The positional drills then led into group work in which the defense worked on some of their nickel and dime packages and the offense worked on multiple-receiver sets. Aside from a few runs in the team portion of practice, much of the work both offensively and defensively seemed to focus on the passing game.
Wit the first units squaring off, the offense struggled. Late in the drill though Tom Brady connected with David Patten on a deep ball. Brady continues to show a much-improved ability to throw the deep ball to this point in camp.
At the end of the team segment the sides moved down inside the 20-yard line for some Red Zone work. Antowain Smith, Patrick Pass and Kevin Faulk all received carries, with Smith punching one into the end zone in much the fashion he did last season.
The passing game also showed some flashes in the Red Zone. Brady connected with Deion Branch on a corner route for a touchdown, while Damon Huard connected with both Fred "Boom-Boom" Coleman and Scott McCready on scoring plays.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis attended practice again and appeared to do a little more coaching, especially with the quarterbacks, than he did in his return to the field on Wednesday afternoon. … Linebacker Tedy Bruschi made the big hit of the day on McCready on a pass play across the middle. … During the special teams segment the team worked on kickoff returns and a number of guys worked out at the deep spots including Faulk, Pass, Branch, Walter Williams, Patten and Jimmy Farris. … Brock Williams missed his second-straight practice with an ankle injury and watched practice from the sidelines wearing a restrictive medical boot. … The team announced the signing of guard Howard Duncan, a rookie out of Oklahoma, who had previously been with Tampa Bay. He wears the number 62 jersey formerly worn by the now-retired Rich Tylski. … Head Coach Bill Belichick on Weis' blue motor scooter that he uses to attend practice, "It's got turn signals and a basket, it looks pretty nice, everything but air conditioning. I mean that's a nice looking scooter."