With preparations for Washington underway at practice, there was a slightly new look on both sides of the ball for the Patriots.
The offense featured a pair of additions to the right side of the offensive line. Russ Hochstein and Tom Ashworth manned the guard and tackle spots, with Ashworth's presence particularly noteworthy. He replaced Adrian Klemm, who served as the No. 1 right tackle throughout camp while last year's starter Kenyatta Jones recovers from offseason surgery on both knees.
Jones is still on the mend but Ashworth took the snaps with the first unit and Klemm was the backup on both sides. While Ashworth downplayed his presence with the starters, it appears he's getting an opportunity to win a job.
"You can't [read anything into that]," Ashworth said. "The coaches just want to get me a few more reps on the right side because we need guys that can play both left and right. So today they wanted me to work on the right side because most of my work so far has been on the left."
Ashworth has the ability to play both sides, as he did in college when he worked to the strong side of the field. Rather than employ a true right and left tackle system, his Colorado team switched him to the wide side of the field on each play. That experience should benefit him in his effort to at least nail down a roster spot as the swing (backup) tackle.
"I'm pretty comfortable on both sides of the ball," he continued. "In college, when I played tackle, we played a swing system where it wasn't left and right side it was strong and weak. So I flipped-flopped sides and played both."
Ashworth added that he hopes to get a good look on Saturday against the Redskins but was clear in saying that no one informed him of any permanent move up the depth chart. Because Bill Belichick's press conference took place before practice, he wasn't asked to comment on the situation.
Hochstein's presence with the first group is likely temporary. He was the starter for the first week of camp while Joe Andruzzi worked his way back from microfracture surgery on his knee. But then the team signed journeyman Brenden Stai and the veteran quickly worked his way into the lineup, getting the nod on the opening series last Thursday against the Giants.
Even though Stai retired suddenly on Sunday, Hochstein was still a backup because Andruzzi had settled into his role after returning to practice on Aug. 4. Andruzzi was a full participant on Monday, but perhaps was given a day off to rest his knee while Hochstein took the reps. Andruzzi dressed for practice but did not take part in any of the full contact team drills.
On defense, the Patriots employed a unique lineup that featured Dan Klecko and Richard Seymour inside as tackles with Mike Vrabel (left) and Rosevelt Colvin (right) as down ends. Ted Johnson was the middle linebacker flanked by Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer.
It was more of a traditional 4-3 set but with rather unconventional personnel on the field. It was similar to the lineup defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel employed last season in Buffalo with just one or two true defensive linemen on the field. The unit fared well against the pass but seemed vulnerable when the scout team offense kept it on the ground.
The Patriots enjoyed some fun at the end of practice and received a nice reward as a result. Belichick gathered his team when the workout was finished and evidently made them an offer. Left tackle Matt Light was sent back deep to field a Daniel Pope punt while the remainder of the team gathered to each side. Pope's first kick fell way short and drew jeers from the players and coaches while his second kick forced Light to run forward and make a sliding attempt. It appeared as if he caught it, but Pope was forced to kick for a third time.
This time he got off a high, booming kick that sent Light scrambling back and to his left. But the 6-4, 305-pounder stayed with it all the way and caught it without incident, much to the delight of his 80-plus teammates, who rushed around him to celebrate. It seems Light's catch earned the team a night off from watching films and Wednesday morning off as well.
Troy Brown was given a veteran day off and sat out practice. … Running back J.R. Redmond donned a red no-contact jersey and participated in some practice drills. He ran pass patterns and handled punts while the rest of the offense went through its team period. … Cornerback Leonard Myers dressed for practice but took his pads off while a trainer checked him out. He eventually left the field early and did not return. No official word from the team was given. Also, Otis Smith sat out the workout after returning to the field for the first time on Sunday. … Asante Samuel might be approaching some sort of training camp record for interceptions. He read Rohan Davey's out pattern perfectly and picked it off during scout team work. While no official numbers are kept, Samuel has at least nine or 10 picks during camp. … Owner Robert Kraft was on hand to watch practice and took some time to sign several autographs before leaving the field. … David Givens made a terrific catch on a Tom Brady pass that was thrown well behind him. Givens was coming over the middle and lunged back to grab the throw, reminiscent of the famous catch Brown made back in 1996 against the Giants. Givens later beat Lawyer Milloy deep and caught a bomb from Damon Huard. … Rookie Bethel Johnson continues to struggle through battles with consistency. On one play, he torched Antwan Harris deep and came back nicely for an underthrown pass from Brady, but he also let a couple of easy passes sail through his hands during drills. … Veterans Ty Law and Tyrone Poole rotated at corner with rookies Eugene Wilson and Samuel. … Wednesday will be the last chance for fans to check out Patriots training camp. The team will hold a single practice from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Please check patriots.com for any changes to the schedule or call the information hotline at (508) 543-1776. All practices after Wednesday will be closed to the public.