Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss.
After spending the morning focusing on situational football, the Patriots moved inside the Dana-Farber Field House for the evening session. The venue changed but the theme remained consistent as Bill Belichickworked on red zone execution in the passing game.
The one-on-one portion of the drills represented a nightmare of sorts for the defenders. Wide receivers took on corners, running backs went against linebackers and tight ends squared off with the safeties in the tight quarters of the end zone. With nothing but the green FieldTurf to either side, the defenders were predictably at a disadvantage and most of the passes went for touchdowns.
Fernando Bryant had to come away from the drill particularly frustrated. Quite simply, Bryant got "Mossed" on three straight occasions while going against the incomparable Randy Moss. Bryant was aggressive and tight in his coverage on all three plays, but Moss' supreme athleticism allowed him to gain just enough space to make the touchdown catches each time. With each catch the look on Bryant's face seemed to grow more disenchanted.
One player who stuck out in a positive manner for the defense was Antwain Spann. The third-year defensive back took on tight ends and came away with big plays on a couple of occasions. First he stepped in front of Jonathan Stuparand picked off Matt Gutierrez' out pass in stride and would have raced 100 yards for a touchdown. Several minutes later, he blanketedBenjamin Watson, who returned to the field after missing the morning practice, and intercepted Matt Cassel's pass.
]()"We're starting to get into a little bit of situational football," Belichick said between practices. "We worked a little bit in the red area, third down, two-minute – we'll get into some short yardage later in the week. Certainly we have a long way to go in our regular stuff, but we'll add a little of that every day."
The defense's fortunes changed for the better when the format shifted to 7-on-7. There were still plenty of touchdowns but with more congestion on the field the secondary was able to prevent them more often. But Moss was not one of the receivers held in check. The Freak toyed with rookie Terrence Wheatley, giving him a quick inside out move before catching Tom Brady's touchdown pass with ease. Moss even held the ball out playfully before he slipped over the sideline after scoring.
Proceed with caution
For the fourth time in seven workouts, Richard Seymourwas missing from practice. Seymour explained on Saturday that the team's trainers were monitoring his health and were the ones responsible for deciding if he'd participate. Tight end Marcus Pollard, tackle Matt Light, cornerback Jason Websterand linebacker Vince Reddalso weren't in uniform. Pollard was late getting out to practice in the morning before joining his teammates but Light, Webster and Redd missed both practices.
Randy Moss – It's true that Moss could garner this award pretty much every day he's in uniform, but Sunday evening was special even by his standards. After his aforementioned dominance in the red zone, he torched the secondary on a deep ball after Belichick ordered the units to switch sides, giving the offense the entire field to work with. He caught Brady's wobbly pass and spiked it well before the end zone.
Fernando Bryant/Terrence Wheatley –Not surprisingly, both corners saw more than their share of Moss, leading to this selection. Neither was overly terrible, but neither came close to breaking up a pass intended for Moss either. After Belichick order the field position change, Bryant gave Moss a huge cushion, which the wideout gladly took for an easy 15-yard hookup along the sideline.
Play of the practice:
Spann's first interception was a thing of beauty. He timed his break perfectly and caught the pass effortlessly. It was the kind of game-changing play that Asante Samuelbecame known for in New England, and Spann executed his assignment brilliantly.
Sunday evening notes
The Patriots signed Pete McMahon, a 6-8, 330-pound tackle out of Iowa. McMahon was a 2005 sixth-round pick for Oakland but ended up on the Browns practice squad. He also spent time in training camp with the Jets (2006) and Jaguars (2007) but has yet to suit up for an NFL game. … Brady threw regularly in the evening session after do very little tossing in the morning. … Just before the snap on one play, Belichick snuck up behind center Dan Connollyand squirted his water bottle in the direction of the ball. Belichick often tries some unconventional things in an effort to distract his players from doing their jobs. Connolly's snap went off without a hitch. … Jonathan Wilhitemade a nice play to break up a Cassel pass intended for C.J. Jonesduring the red zone work. … The practice ended with the team running a series of sprints that covered the length of the field inside the bubble. … Monday's practice is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and is open to the public.