Another large crowd took in an entertaining practice under warm, sunny skies at Patriots training camp Saturday morning. The two-hour session saw a number of good hits, big pass connections and on a whole was probably the best all-around practice the team has had over the first four days of training camp, unlike Friday afternoon's session that had a bad start and a strong finish. The team had a short meeting in the middle of field, the event that seemed to spark an improvement in play just a day earlier, and took to the fields with a bit of focus and purpose. While the hitting may not have been quite as intense as some of the banging that took place yesterday afternoon, possibly by coaching design, the practice did have a very professional, workman-like feel.
The team will hold a second, closed Saturday practice inside the bowl at Gillette Stadium this evening as it makes the transition to some more situational type work and allows the players to get acclimated to the field that will become their home when they face the New York Giants in the preseason opener in less than two weeks.
Ty Law had on shoulder pads and a helmet for the morning session, a sign that he may be moving closer to joining his teammates on the practice field. Law has missed each of the first four days of camp and is included in a group of players Belichick has labeled as day-to-day. … Mike Vrabel was in full pads, but did not participate in the practice and spent a long portion of the time on the Stairmaster in full uniform. … An annual event, a crew of NFL officials was on the practice field this morning and will remain in town through the weekend. The officials attend practices as well as update players and coaches on any rule changes or clarifications. … The team was given a loud ovation from the bleachers section along the sideline when the players ran straight at the fans during a warm up run before early practice stretching. … The practice had its own version of a fly over when a flock of geese flew across the field at a very low altitude and continued that low flight path over the fans in the bleachers. … Steve Szabo continues to focused most of this attention on the group of nose tackles, including plenty of group drill work. … With Vrabel out of action, Matt Chatham took the reps at left outside linebacker with the first defense. … The offense seemed to have the upper hand in a pair of drills run simultaneously early in the practice. On one end of the field Antowain Smith and the other backs had good success working on the interior running game, while the wide receivers continuously beat the defensive backs in one-on-one work at the other end of the field. … In that drill, a pair of rookies went head to head as Bethel Johnson beat Eugene Wilson on a deep pass down the left sideline. … Wilson atoned for his earlier mistake though when he made a nice play coming across the secondary to pick off a Damon Huard pass over the deep middle in a seven-on-seven drill. … Tight end Christian Fauria returned to practice action after missing the Friday afternoon session. … Most of the inactive players remained the same, although veteran defensive end Anthony Pleasant also missed his second practice of camp. … Once again a number of rookies saw reps as the team worked on kickoff returns. Johnson showed good speed and decisiveness while returning series of kicks, while Wilson made the fatal mistaking of letting one of his return opportunities literally slip right through his hands. … Huard bounced back from his earlier pick by showing impressive touch and timing on a deep, 30-plus yard completion to Deion Branch, dropping the ball perfectly over the entire secondary in the middle of the field. Branch hauled in another deep ball in a team segment when he beat Tyrone Poole to a well-timed Rohan Davey bomb. … Richard Seymour stood out in one of the only ways a defensive lineman can in a practice session by knocking down a Huard attempt at a screen pass late in practice. … Ted Johnson, Ty Warren, Adam Vinatieri, Dedric Ward and Fred Baxter all signed for fans in autograph alley in the Fleet Plaza at Gillette Stadium after the practice, while a number of other players stopped on their way off the practice field to oblige waiting fans. … The team has changed the time of tomorrow morning's single practice session to 10:30-12:00 a.m. But as always, fans are urged to check the camp page on Patriots.com or call the info hotline at 508-543-1776 before heading down to Gillette to take in a practice.