The Patriots christened their new home with the new name Monday night when they practiced under the lights at Gillette Stadium. The workout, which lasted about 90 minutes, was watched by luxury suite and club seat ticket holders who got their first look at the defending Super Bowl champions in their beautiful new home.
Head Coach Bill Belichick explained earlier that the session would allow the players to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings and allow any bugs to be worked out. Unfortunately, they needed to deal with one as the lights went out shortly after practice began. The workout continued under the remaining daylight for about 40 minutes before lighting was restored.
The lights actually went out about a half-hour before practice began at 6:30 but the backup system in place quickly went into effect about 45 seconds later. Unfortunately, the surge may have overloaded that backup power supply from Mass. Electric, which likely caused the second blackout.
Belichick put his players through the paces despite the darkness, beginning with some field goal work for Adam Vinatieri. After Vinatieri made a few kicks, the team broke into its normal position drills with the quarterbacks working on their footwork. Tom Brady, Damon Huard and Rohan Davey drop back each during the drill, maneuvering left and right as if they're eluding the rush before throwing the ball.
There was a slight difference Monday night, as the trio had another distraction to contend with: Belichick chasing them with a blocking pad. On one attempt, Huard was forced to avoid the pad as Belichick hurled it at him as he released the ball.
Troy Brown, who landed awkwardly and appeared to injure his right knee after leaping for a pass during the morning session, did not practice. Daniel Graham joined him on the sidelines nursing a sore knee. Belichick reported the injuries, as well as one to running back J.R. Redmond, who missed both sessions Monday, aren't serious and all are day-to-day.
During the team period, Brady and the offense were sharp. Antowain Smith picked up a couple of big chunks of yardage on a pair of runs. In between, Brady hooked up with David Patten deep down the right sideline for another huge gain. Patten was excited about getting the chance to make some plays in a major league setting.
"This is how it's supposed to be," Patten said. "To finally get into it, coming off a Super Bowl year … we're enjoying it right now."
The offense continued to excel early during a 7-on-7 drill in the red zone. Brady fired a pair of touchdowns before the defense finally got some revenge, forcing several incomplete passes to stem the tide.
The final phase of the workout saw the play of the day during a two-minute drill. Brady hooked up with Branch on a perfect slant deep over the middle, hitting the rookie in stride just in front of Antwan Harris, who actually had decent coverage on the play. Branch showed his speed by darting untouched into the end zone for a touchdown.
Belichick was pleased with the opportunity to work out the inevitable kinks that come with breaking in a new facility.
"It was nice to get on the field to see the wind, the lights, check out the headsets," Belichick said. "Obviously there are some bugs that need to be worked out, but we got off the ground. I think it was good for the kickers and returners to see the conditions.
"As usual, when you practice in a stadium, you get a more spirited practice with more zip and I thought the players showed that tonight."