The Patriots continued their preparation for Saturday's preseason opener against the Giants during Wednesday afternoon's practice, with most of the attention geared toward defense.
Much of the day's second session featured work on the subpackages, including nickel and dime sets, as well as some special teams work. The offense ran mostly scout-team looks as the Patriots defense went to work.
In the nickel package, Victor Green joined the four starters (Ty Law, Otis Smith, Tebucky Jones and Lawyer Milloy) in the secondary taking linebacker Mike Vrabel's place. The defensive front included Willie McGinest, Bobby Hamilton, Bernard Holsey and Anthony Pleasant.
When the dime unit was put in place, Vrabel returned but acted as a down lineman up front while Antwan Harris was added to the secondary as the sixth defensive back. Also, rookie Jarvis Green replaced Holsey while Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer left in favor of Harris and Vrabel.
Both units performed well during some down-and-distance drills. There were some occasional mixups, though, as the offense made a few big plays. Tom Brady hit Deion Branch on for one of them and Damon Huard hooked up with rookie David Givens on another.
Huard actually enjoyed a strong day passing. Brady's backup showed nice touch on a sideline completion to David Patten and later found Kevin Faulk out of the backfield with a nice improvisation. Huard may not have Drew Bledsoe's credentials as a backup, but there are many teams who'd love to have his services as a starter.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was on the field once again for the afternoon, tooling around on his trusty cart. Weis has been a fixture during afternoon sessions and during film work with the team each night. He will not be making the trip to New Jersey, however. Belichick said Weis' duties – including play calling, substitutions and adjustments – will be handled by the offensive coaches.
Belichick explained between practices that some of the injured players who sat out the morning practice could possibly suit up in the afternoon. Damien Woody (shoulder) and Troy Brown (knee) both sat each session, however.
But tight end Cam Cleeland went to work in both practices, although he wore the red non-contact shirt. He moved well running his pass routes and could soon work his way into the tight end competition with Christian Fauria and Daniel Graham. Speaking of Graham, he remained sidelined for the second straight day with an injured knee.
Tomorrow's double sessions will complete the team's preparations for Saturday while Belichick put the finishing touches in place for the unofficial start of the season.