… The sunshine and cooler temperatures returned in time for Friday's Patriots practice. The team was in shorts, shells, and helmets for today's workout, held down on the single practice field behind Gillette Stadium.
… Rookie cornerback Ras-I Dowling had been in uniform, yet limited the past two days with a hip injury, but was not on the field for the start of Friday's session.
… Finishing out the week the way they started, tackle Sebastian Vollmer (back), tight end Aaron Hernandez (knee), and Mike Wright (concussion) were not in attendance, while defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth (back) missed his second straight practice.
… Earlier today, rookie o-lineman Marcus Cannon made a cameo in the Patriots locker room, passing through on his way to the training room. Cannon, currently on the NFI list as he recovers from cancer, hadn't been seen in quite some time.
… Newly-signed defensive lineman Gerard Warren stopped briefly to chat with reporters as he prepared for practice. He said he's been taking the past couple of weeks of unemployment "like a man," waiting for another opportunity. He was asked if he expected to get a call again from New England. "I thought maybe the option would be available," he acknowledged with a smile.
… Unlike last week, when the Jets played Oakland on a partially dirt-filled field (where the A's play baseball), the surface at O.co Coliseum is expected to be all-new grass for New England's tilt with the Raiders Sunday. The Patriots played their season opener at Miami on a patchwork field as well, so, wide receiver Wes Welker was asked about the difference in footing on fields that are dual-use football/baseball surfaces. He said it varies from venue to venue, depending on weather and other conditions, as to how well the grass takes, so it comes down to pre-game warm-ups to determine how safe the field will be after re-sodding. Welker recalled the last time the Patriots visited Oakland, in 2008, after more than two months had passed since the end of baseball season. "We had a lot of rain that day," he explained, "so it was a little bit slipperier than in the past. It was kind of hard to make an observation based on the rain. My understanding is they re-sodded the whole field [this week], so, it's not just the infield. It should be pretty consistent throughout, it's just a matter of how good it is."
… The team flies out to California this afternoon, in order to get adjusted to the three-hour time difference. Saturday will be as normal a day as possible for the players and coaches, as they'll conduct their walkthrough and meetings from their hotel in the Greater Bay Area.