Preparation for the Carolina Panthers began in earnest Wednesday with the Patriots running scout team plays on both sides of the ball.
The full-pads work focused on full-team drills and goal line situations. The defense had a upper hand for most of the practice, but there were several offensive highlights. Tom Brady got things started for the offense by hitting Charles Johnson over the coverage of Antwan Harris and Je'Rod Cherry.
From there the defense took over. Ty Law, who intercepted a Drew Bledsoe pass during seven-on-seven drills, got through on a cornerback blitz for a would-be sack of Damon Huard. Roman Phifer nearly had an interception on a short pass attempt, and then Huard was picked by Lawyer Milloy when his toss for tight end Johnny McWilliams floated well over the target.
Brady came back in and picked the offense up for a bit again. He hit McWilliams over the middle for a nice gain and followed that up by hitting Ronney Daniels deep down the left sideline by the coverage of cornerback Leonard Myers and safety Matt Stevens. Stevens, who was late trying to get over on the play to Daniels, made up for it on the next play by knocking away Brady's try for Shockmain Davis on an out pattern.
Michael Bishop struggled in his turn with the offense. He had a string of five straight passes that were either knocked away or batted down by the defense. Then he was picked off by Terrance Shaw. The play appeared to be a miscommunication between Bishop and a receiver because there were no offensive players in the area.
Despite being fully dressed for practice, running back Robert Edwards once again did not take any reps with the offense. Towards the end of practice he did some running in the back of one end zone… The offensive line is closer to getting back to full strength. Rookie Matt Light, who opened camp at right tackle with the first group, was walking around the field without a brace on his ankle. Guard Mike Compton was also on the sidelines again, as was rookie tight end Arther Love… Wide receiver/defensive back Sean Morey did not practice, but the reason was unknown.
One practice Thursday
The team will practice just once on Thursday. Instead of two practices, the single session will begin at 2 p.m. There will be no practices from Friday through Sunday, and then just one more workout Monday before the Patriots move back up to Foxboro Stadium.