There was good news and bad news in the afternoon session for the Patriots. On the plus side, Randy Moss, Joey Gallowayand Jarvis Green returned to the field after missing the morning practice. On the downside, six players – includingTedy Bruschi, Matt Light, Stephen Nealand Richard Seymour– missed the second workout.
In truth, the bad news probably isn't all that bad, especially given how quickly the morning group returned to action. Although there's no official word regarding the reason for the absences, they're more than likely the result of scheduled maintenance or monitoring of some veteran players.
Al Johnsonand Ryan O'Callaghanwere the other two players who missed the afternoon practice, which took place under bright sunny skies after a stormy morning in Foxborough that curtailed the first workout of 2009 training camp. The passing game was in focus for much of the session with both 7-on-7 and team work taking up the bulk of the time.
Tom Bradywas in fine form all afternoon, especially on a perfectly thrown seam route toDavid Thomasthat somehow floated in between a number of arms in the middle of the field. With Moss and Galloway back in uniform, the offense began to resemble the unit many have envisioned throughout the offseason.
As most felt would be the case, those two flanked Wes Welkerin the slot, but perhaps as a surprise to some rookie Julian Edelmantook some reps in four-wide sets. Greg Lewisalso worked in that mix with the seventh-round pick, who despite some drops did not appear out of place in his first camp day.
While the offense looked sharp for much of the practice, the secondary also made its share of plays. Leigh Boddenturned in a beauty while defending Moss on a deep ball down the left sideline. Bodden was about a half-step behind Moss, and that's all that the always-dangerous wideout usually needs, but the former Lion stayed with the play and deflected Brady's bomb away at the last second, negating a huge gain.
New special teams coach Scott O'Brienis a hands-on coach to say the least. He was quite active and vocal in both sessions, oftentimes following his troops downfield on kickoff drills in an effort to better view the blocking lanes and fits. As the ball would get kicked, O'Brien would follow one of his inside guys for 10-15 yards while exhorting the players to execute their assignments.
The team spent time during both practices working on kickoffs and several newcomers appeared to be in the mix for spots. Brandon McGowan, Patrick Chung, Edelman, Darius Butler, Alex Smith, Paris Lenonand Herana-Daze Jonesall took reps covering kicks on two separate units.
Who's hot: The tight ends – The Patriots have a bunch and they all made some plays. Thomas turned in a terrific one-handed catch during a team period. Smith fought off some aggressive coverage from Adalius Thomasto secure a pass during one-on-one drills early in the session. Chris Baker, Benjamin Watsonand Tyson DeVreealso were active in the passing game, making several catches on the day.
Who's not: Kevin O'Connell –The morning was a wash, literally, given the heavy rains that affected the passing game, but there were no such handicaps this afternoon. O'Connell appeared indecisive and slow with his reads at times while forcing some passes into areas they shouldn't have gone. One in particular was nearly intercepted when he tried to jam one to a double-covered Baker down the seam.
Play of the afternoon – Little-known wideout Terrence Nunnmade an amazing diving catch in the end zone after getting behind Butler on a deep ball. Matt Gutierrez's pass was just a bit long but Nunn ran it down and laid out completely to make the catch in the far end zone.
The Patriots did a lot of individual work in the afternoon with running backs running pass routes against linebackers, wide receivers doing so against cornerbacks and offensive linemen working on pass blocking against the defensive linemen. … In an interesting sequence, the running backs ran some routes early in practice and caught passes from an interesting source: Kevin Faulk. Usually a ball boy or coach handles such duties but Faulk tossed well-thrown passes to Sammy Morris, Fred Taylorand BenJarvus Green-Ellisbefore he took his rep and Morris returned the favor. … Defensive linemen Steve Williamsand wideout Shun Whitehad to run laps for various mental errors. … As was the case during the spring camps, rookie second-round pick Sebastian "Sea Bass" Vollmercontinued to work at left tackle. … Butler and Jonathan Wilhiterotated while taking some reps with Bodden at corner in a group with Brandon Meriweatherand James Sanders. … The practice ended with the front line players running sprints on the left field while the younger players continued their team work on the right side. … Friday's schedule will remain the same with two practices scheduled – 9:30 p.m.-11:15 a.m. in the morning and 3:45 p.m.-5:30 p.m. in the afternoon.