After four straight sessions in full pads the Patriots donned shorts and shells for their workout on Tuesday. The humidity that arrived yesterday remained in full force, and once again rain fell periodically during practice. As was the case a day earlier, the conditions seemed to impact the offense in a negative way as the execution continued to be problematic.
The less-than-ideal conditions did little to dampen the spirits of a pair of newcomers to the team – one of which is all too familiar with the lay of the land in Foxborough and the other still learning his way. Gerard Warren took part in his first full practice after arriving about midway through yesterday's while Andre Carter put a wrap on his second day as a Patriot.
Both expressed excitement with the recent turn of events that brought them together, with Warren in particular appreciative of Bill Belichick's confidence in him.
"He was a man of his word. A lot of times when you get that message, 'don't call us, we'll call you,' you know you have to think long and hard," Warren said with a smile. "But he told me if it was possible to bring me back he would give me a call. He honored his word and gave me a call.
"I was glad to come back. Last year was a great experience. It didn't finish the way we wanted it to. But I know the purpose and direction this team wants to go and I wanted to be part of it again."
Carter said he felt "like the new kid in school" trying to acclimate himself to his new surroundings. The defensive end has done his best work playing in the 4-3 as an edge rusher, something Belichick mentioned on Monday would likely be in his job description in New England. For his part, Carter simply wants a chance.
"I've been blessed to be versatile in my career in all aspects of the game," Carter said. "Whatever they want me to do, I'll do. I'll also rely on communication between the coaches and myself. If they feel like I'm a better fit in a situation then so be it."
Carter played the last five years in Washington, the last two alongside Albert Haynesworth, and t times clashed with the mammoth defensive tackle over his refusal to play in the Redskins 3-4 system.
"Our relationship has always been positive no matter what," Carter said. "That's a thing of the past and we're Patriots now. We're just excited to get things going. One thing about Albert is, as a player in general, we're all motivated to a certain extent. How far you want to push yourself is up to the individual. The Albert I know is definitely a motivated person.
"He's a heck of a player. The times I've played with him, and the level of success as far as sacks that I've received, we had a great four-man rush with him inside or outside. He's a big guy, he can plug the middle and with him and our other big guys in the middle anything is possible."
Haynesworth missed his fourth straight day of practice but Belichick indicated that his absence is short term. The coach said it would be "a day or a matter of days" before his return. Given the time he's already missed he likely won't take part in the preseason opener on Thursday.
Warren and Carter could be held out as well given their late arrivals. Either way, Warren is anxious to return to the field after a disappointing end to the 2010 season. He's also looking forward to what will surely be a rather intense competition for jobs along the defensive line with as many as 21 players in the mix. "Only the strong will survive," he said, before looking ahead to how formidable the group could become.
"Chemistry," he answered when asked what it would be like working with so many new players. "To be able to feed off what they do well and having them feed off what you do well and be able to mix together make a masterpiece."
A little more than a week after saying he didn't plan on speaking to the media often, Chad Ochocinco was back in front of the cameras and microphones. He said he was feeling more comfortable in the offense but admitted he still had significant work to do.
He also talked about getting to know Boston and his new surroundings.
"It's been fun. I haven't used the GPS purposely. The way I learn a new city is by traveling out, venturing out and getting lost on purpose," he said. "This past weekend I was a little frustrated because I lost about an hour and 30 minutes and I couldn't get where I needed to. Other than that, Boston, or actually Heaven, has been good.
"The people have been fun. A lot of people are not too fond of the Prius that I drive. I find that hard to believe, not too sure what that's all about. Other than that people have been great. Got to meet a couple of fans at the Red Sox game. It was cool."
Ochocinco credited Wes Welker and Deion Branch for helping him pick system quickly and believe more practice time will continue that process.
"They've probably made it the easiest," Ochocinco said. "There's so much verbiage as far as signals and Wes and Deion have been able to get me somewhat up to speed. I could probably play a game at full speed without having to think."
Safety Patrick Chung was asked what the newly rebuilt defensive front may mean to him and his secondary teammates.
"If you have guys who can get to the quarterback it makes it a lot easier to cover," Chung said. "But we haven't even played a game yet, so we'll have to see how that goes.
Who's hot: Zoltan Mesko – The second-year punter has been booming the ball throughout camp but the area that impressed on Tuesday was his directional kicking. He's been particular adept at hanging them high to toward the left sideline and seems to have improved greatly in that department.
Who's not: The offense – It wasn't the worst day the unit has had but generally when the team is not in pads and contact isn't part of the equation, the ball doesn't hit the ball often. That wasn't the case on this day as Tom Brady threw his hands in the air on a couple of occasions. The overall execution continues to lag behind, which isn't totally unexpected given the lack of work heading into camp.
Play of the day – Despite the offensive struggles Brady did manage to find Aaron Hernandez for an impressive touchdown during some goal line work. Brady found the second-year tight end drifting toward the corner of the end zone and then watched his receiver lay out with a diving catch. Overall it was a solid day for Hernandez.
Two players were added to the list of those not practicing – Rob Gronkowski and Dan Connolly. Gronk left Monday's session early when he appeared to be suffering from some sort of heat exhaustion while Connolly suffered what looked like an elbow injury. … The rookies, including first-year offensive assistant George Godsey, got the hose down treatment from Brady as the quarterback doused them as he typically does at some point in camp. … The team will conduct a walkthrough open to the public inside Gillette Stadium on Wednesday from 10 a.m.-11:15 a.m.