After canceling a scheduled morning practice, the Patriots were back on the field Friday afternoon in shoulder pads and shorts at a cooler Gillette Stadium. The weather was more comfortable for the players, with temperatures in the mid-80s today and the oppressive humidity that had settled over the area for the past week no longer a big factor.
Weather, however, didn't effect the decision in reshuffling the practice schedule. As Bill Belichick said at his press conference, the players were still hard at work inside the film room sharpening the mental aspect of their game.
"We decided to get caught up on some film and some classroom work this morning," Belichick said. "We'll be out there this afternoon. We've had a lot of practices and have had a lot of plays. Sometimes it is good to just get caught up on everything and make sure we are watching all of the films, seeing all the corrections and getting all of that taken care of. I think we are pretty well caught up from this morning. It was good for us."
Besides the seven players on PUP and receiver Deion Branch – who has now missed his 13th practice – Monty Beisel, Chad Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Chad Jackson, Matt Shelton, Mel Mitchell, Daniel Graham, Jarvis Green, Marquise Hill and Artrell Hawkins were all held out of Friday's practice.
The team continued the special teams drills they worked on the day before by starting off practice working on punt-block and punt coverage. Hank Poteat, Antwain Spann, Tebucky Jones and Willie Andrews lined up as the gunners during the coverage drills.
On the 11-on-11 drills, the offense worked on a lot of inside running plays. Corey Dillon, Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk all took turns running draws and traps up the middle. When the Patriots went to the air, on the other hand, they continued to look out of synch. Tom Brady's passes were off the mark most of the day.
When the ball was put on the money, it usually ended up on the ground more often than not. Reche Caldwell, Ben Watson, Bam Childress and Maroney all dropped catchable balls thrown their way. For the most part, all four quarterbacks had a miserable day throwing the football. Very rarely did one of them, including Brady, hit a receiver in stride. After the first week of camp, the Patriots air attack has yet to take off. Overall, a very sloppy practice all around for the offense.
The team finished the day with kickers Martin Gramatica and Stephen Gostkowski working on field goals. Both kickers ended up perfect with Gramatica going five-for-five and the rookie hitting on all four of his attempts as well. It looks as if this competitive kicking battle will go on throughout the summer.
Who's Hot: Chad Scott – The veteran cornerback has had a strong camp. Belichick even pointed out Scott at his press conference, saying he's performed well and has done everything the coaching staff has asked him to do. Scott is lining up at both cornerback and safety and has been productive at both spots. He's a physical player with versatility. Those attributes make Scott a strong candidate to make the final roster.
Who's Not: Chad Jackson – Rookie receivers in general don't have a lot of success during their first season in the NFL. That success rate drops even further when a player misses a majority of training camp. We are a week into camp and Jackson has hardly been on the field. He's participated in two practices so far and that's not good news for the Patriots. With their receiver position in the shape it's in, the Patriots need Jackson to come in and make an impact right away. If he's not on the field building chemistry with Brady in August, it's hard to imagine that he's going to make a big splash this fall.
Play of the Practice – With the offense struggling, leave it to Walter Rasby to save the day. Not known for his receiving skills, the Great Rasby reached down and made a one-handed catch on an underthrown pass by Matt Cassel. Kudos to the veteran tight end for hauling in a nice grab but it's obvious the offense had a tough day when Rasby makes the play of the day.
Camp NotesRodney Harrison wasn't present at practice today, but aspiring sports writer Tom Carroll was. Carroll – a kid decked out in a red Harrison throwback jersey, approached the media tent looking for a job. Alas, no openings were available for the youngster …During early passing drills, Brady connected with Watson on a number of routes… Punt team took the field and Josh Miller, the Patriots only punter, booted six punts, shanking only his last one …A three-man crew of NFL officials practiced with the team, throwing flags when players committed penalties … During goal line drills, Brady connected with David Thomas in the end zone and handed off to both Dillon and Maroney for big plays … Linebacker Freddie Roach continues to struggle, not reading plays well and filling the wrong holes. Barry Gardner was seen playing the role of Mike 'backer in Bruschi's absence, calling defensive plays in the huddle…Belichick continued to spend extra time with the linebackers. He even stayed after practice and spent about ten minutes instructing Roach and Gardner. After he left, the two inside linebackers proceeded to work on drills together.
- Kyle Psaty