After a pair of less physical workouts on Sunday, the Patriots turned up the heat this morning with a spirited, high-intensity practice. Almost immediately after completing their calisthenics the players began banging.
The wide receivers, fullbacks and defensive backs got things stirred up with 1-on-1 tackling drills. The players involved were mostly backups, but that didn't stop them from providing some highlights. Jeff Paulk elicited the biggest reaction from the crowd when he steamrolled safety Je'Rod Cherry and continued on. On the next play, cornerback Ray Hill lowered the boom on wideout Shockmain Davis, who had been the most elusive man to stop in the drill to that point.
While that was going on, the linebackers some safeties were at the opposite end of the field working on coverage. T.J. Turner, a seventh-round pick out of Michigan State, was part of the first unit at the crash end spot normally manned by the injured Willie McGinest (back). Turner has the size and physical nature to succeed in the NFL and may be a sleeper to watch this summer.
Bill Belichick then got some work in on the running game with 9-on-7 drills turning up the heat once again. The defense got the better of it, stuffing several plays for no gain. Inside 'backer Ted Johnson was particularly active, making several tackles at or near the line of scrimmage.
As for the lineups, Adam Davis remained in the lineup at right guard for the injured Joe Andruzzi (back), Greg Robinson-Randall took Matt Light's (ankle) place at right tackle and Grant Williams and Adrian Klemm split time at left tackle. Mike Compton (left guard) and Damien Woody (center), who practiced without the wrap he's had o his right hand the past few days, were in their normal spots.
On defense, Jace Sayler was sandwiched by Anthony Pleasant and Bobby Hamilton, with Turner and Mike Vrabel on the outside. Johnson and Tedy Bruschi were the inside linebackers. Sayler has gotten the bulk of the work with the first unit at nose tackle the last three days, although Belichick cautioned that there would be several lineup changes throughout the week.
Quarterbacks Tom Brady, Damon Huard and Michael Bishop worked on deep fade routes on the far field. The three took turns tossing long, arcing spirals at yellow trash barrels situated in each corner of the end zone. Brady came the closest, knocking the one on the left side over with one of his tosses.
The workout ended with 7-on-7 passing drills, which focused primarily on short routes underneath the coverage. One of the last plays was also one of the funniest so far in camp. Tony Simmons caught a Bishop toss down the seam and broke free into the secondary. He likely would have gone for a touchdown on a similar play under game conditions.
During the drill, the defensive backs that weren't involved were standing about 40 yards behind the play on the field. When Simmons broke free, Lawyer Milloy quickly put his helmet on and got in position to make the stop, grabbing Simmons playfully.
INJURY UPDATE: The list of walking wounded remains lengthy. Terrance Shaw (left shoulder), Robert Edwards (groin), Matt Light (ankle), Dane Looker (hamstring), Joe Andruzzi (back), Terry Glenn (knee) and Walter Williams (leg) all sat out and most got some work in on the stationary bikes. Willie McGinest (back), Johnny McWilliams (hamstring), Arther Love (groin) and Jabari Holloway (hamstring) still have yet to suit up for practice. Rookie Kenyatta Jones (shoulder) returned to action but only on a limited basis. He wore a red uniform shirt, which designates that a player is off limits from hitting.