… Still has an early-autumn-like feel around here, as New England prepares to welcome Hurricane Irene possibly over the weekend. Partly cloudy today in Foxborough for Wednesday's Patriots practice. Third day in a row, it was in full pads on the training camp practice fields.
… Biggest news again was the notable returning players: rookie OL Nate Solder, who was out Tuesday, was back, along with two fellow rookies, RB Shane Vereen and TE Lee Smith, and veteran safety Josh Barrett. Vereen and Barrett are making their first appearances in pads since early in training camp, while Smith returns after just a few days away from the action.
… No new additions to the list of absentees today. A total of 14 players weren't out there:, rookie RBs Stevan Ridley, CB Leigh Bodden, RB Kevin Faulk, rookie DB Malcolm Williams, RB Eric Kettani, rookie LB Jeff Tarpinian, LBs Dane Fletcher and Brandon Spikes, rookie OL Marcus Cannon, OL Ryan Wendell, and DLs Brandon Deaderick, Jermaine Cunningham, Ron Brace, and Mike Wright.
… One new player has joined the roster. The team had one roster spot available after releasing DB Bret Lockett and OL Zach Roth and signing TE Garrett Mills earlier this week. The new guy is rookie o-lineman Mike Berry, who was with the club earlier in training camp before being released. He's wearing the same white, number 66 jersey he had before.
… There was a rock star in attendance at practice as well, but it wasn't country legend Kenny Chesney, who's playing two shows at Gillette Stadium this weekend. Bill Belichick's old friend from New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi, was on the sidelines in between the two practice fields. Belichick also welcomed a group of invited guests that included Boston College hockey coach Jerry York.
… The locker room was more active today than yesterday. We heard from QB Tom Brady, WR Taylor Price, and rookie DB Ras-I Dowling. Please visit patriots.com, where I'll have an update posted shortly.
… To answer a few questions from some of you who commented on previous practice notebook posts: 1) LB Brandon Spikes has practiced, though it was during the first couple of days of training camp. He hasn't been seen since, but player personnel director Nick Caserio said today that Spikes is in the building and has been taking part in off-field activities. 2) No, Vereen is not eligible for PUP. The rules clearly state that even if a player takes part in the first few minutes of the first practice of camp, he cannot be played on PUP. 3) Yes, Clay Nurse (rookie DL) is still with the club. Hasn't stood out one way or the other, however, in practice or games.