]()New defensive coordinator Eric Mangini got a chance to work on his nickel and dime units during Tuesday's evening session while the offense continued to run plays off cards in preparation for Cincinnati. Judging from the results, the added depth in the secondary should make the Patriots a very difficult team to pass against.
Although it wasn't the best gauge possible given the fact that the offense was running another team's plays, the first dime group of Asante Samuel, Guss Scott, Ellis Hobbs, Rodney Harrison, Eugene Wilson and Tyrone Poole proved to be a formidable opponent for the quarterbacks.
Completions were few and far between, and the defensive backs had their hands on several passes. The first set of plays didn't net much yardage for the offense, and even when the second group of James Sanders, Antuan Edwards, Hank Poteat, Chad Scott, Duane Starks and Hobbs took some reps things didn't get much better.
The offense did make some occasional plays, most notably with Rohan Davey at the helm. Fans got to see the good and bad with Davey all in a matter of moments when the fourth-year backup drilled a 20-yard out right on the numbers of Deion Branch on the left sideline. On the next play, Hobbs intercepted Davey's pass over the middle. Later, Starks dropped a sure interception when Davey fired a pass well behind the intended receiver in the right flat.
]()Matt Cassel also experienced some highs and lows, completing a numbers of passes early but finishing with a pair of interceptions later. He rebounded during the second set of plays with three straight picturesque completions – all on medium range passes in tight coverage.
Cassel seemed to get his rhythm as practice wore on. He operated a nice two-minute drill when he teamed with Jason Anderson and Bam Childress often. Anderson made a terrific catch on the right sideline on a 15-yard out. One play later, Childress one-upped him with a diving grab on the left hashmark around the 10-yard line. Childress appeared to injure himself on the play as he got up slowly and was bent over momentarily.
After an incomplete pass intended for Eugene Baker at the pylon, Cassel drilled when across the middle to Anderson along the backline of the end zone. The touchdown, which came on the final play of practice, elicited a huge response from the offensive players. Perhaps the team avoided some running to close the session by virtue of positive finish.
Several players were not dressed in the normal helmets and spiders (soft under pads) including tight ends Daniel Graham and Christian Fauria, tackle Matt Light and wide receiver David Terrell. All likely received the veteran day off treatment. Also, linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, who received some extra stretching from the training staff during the morning practice, was not dressed. … The remainder of the injured list included P.K. Sam, Tully Banta-Cain, Ty Warren, Benjamin Watson, Santonio Thomas, Bethel Johnson, Ryan Claridge, Andre Torrey, Randall Gay and Tim Dwight. … Nose tackle Mario Monds was dressed but joined the injured group in the bubble for conditioning work. He was limping while the pre-practice jog was taking place. … Tom Brady practiced without the wrap he had on during the morning workout but he did virtually no throwing during the session. … Former Giants All-Pro tight end Mark Bavaro, who has been part of Patriots training camp in the past, was on hand for the first time. He spent about an hour chatting with Personnel Director Scott Pioli in between the practice fields. … The punt team took several reps as Josh Miller showed his fine form with several booming kicks. The unit consisted of rookieEllis Hobbs and second-year man Dexter Reid as the vice guys with Don Davis, Larry Izzo, Matt Chatham, Wesly Mallard, James Sanders,Patrick Pass and Dan Klecko. Lonie Paxton was his usual perfect on all of his snaps. The same cannot be said of Grant Steen, who handled the duties with the second group. While he didn't have any errant snaps, two of his caused the punters to take a step to their left to field them.