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Walter on board; Tuesday morning notes

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Mike Shanahan takes in a Patriots practice

Michael Vick?

Nope.

Cleo Lemon?

Try again.

How about Andrew Walter?

We have a winner, tell him what he's won, Johnny!

Well, that all depends on your perspective. For the Patriots, Walter enters into the mix for one of the backup quarterback spots, most likely with rookie Brian Hoyer for the No. 3 job behind incumbent backup Kevin O'Connell.

For Matt Gutierrez, however, the situation is much bleaker. Gutierrez, who was trying to stick around for a third year, was released to make room for Walter – marking the second straight summer the Patriots have let him go. Last year he was given a reprieve when Tom Brady went down for the season in the opener, but the Patriots certainly hope no such measures are needed this time around.

For Walter, who suited up for the morning practice and received a surprising amount of reps considering his recent arrival, it means another opportunity. He and Hoyer split time behind Brady as O'Connell didn't get many looks. Despite some understandable rust, he handled himself reasonably well, misfiring on a couple of passes but hitting on his share as well. Walter went right from the practice field to the meeting rooms, politely turning down interview requests, most likely to further digest his new playbook.

For Hoyer, the transaction is likely good news. While there may be a perception that adding a fifth-year veteran quarterback has to be insurance for the backup position, there more likely camp battle is for the third spot behind O'Connell. If that's the case, the former Michigan State quarterback couldn't be happier.

"Definitely," Hoyer said after Tuesday morning's practice. "You just have to go at it and look at the opportunity that's been given to me. To come in here and be able to sign, pick the team I wanted to go to, and to come to an organization like this where you can learn from the coaches – Coach Belichick, Tom Brady, Coach [Bill] O'Brien – I just have to try to keep getting better. The more I get to do out here, the more film I get to watch, the more meetings I'm in, the more I'm going to learn."

Walter brings a rather unimpressive resume to Foxborough. The 6-6, 230-pound former Arizona State signal caller spent all four of his NFL seasons in Oakland after the Raiders used a third-round pick on him back in 2005. The bulk of his action came in 2006 when he started eight of 12 games, completing 147-of-276 passes for 1,677 yards and three touchdowns. Walter played in just three games over the past two years with one start. His career totals include just three touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

The bulk of his playing time in Oakland occurred when Randy Moss was a Raider, and the wideout wasn't always the most supportive teammate for the young quarterback. Although Moss took part in a rare morning practice on Tuesday, he did not speak with the media following the workout. On one play, Walter badly overthrew Moss in the end zone during a drill.

Be our guest

Former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, one of the few NFL coaches who has had Belichick's number in recent years, was on the field and addressed the team briefly before practice. Shanahan has bounced around at a number of camps thus far this summer and he spoke with Belichick before practice and later chatted with Owner Robert Kraft.

Hit the road

Belichick likes to add pressure to the daily grind of training camp and he did so on Tuesday by setting up a competition late in practice. The offense lined up for a two-point conversion with simple consequences: convert and the defense runs a lap; fail and the offense goes.

Hoyer hooked up with Joey Galloway to spark a pretty spirited celebration by those in white jerseys. Meanwhile, Vince Wilfork looked none too please since he felt he had an easy sack on Hoyer but followed the protocol of camp and allowed the pass without hitting the quarterback. His protests fell on deaf ears, however, and the defense hit the road.

"It's nice to have a competition out there … you're playing for something," Hoyer said. "You kind of lose sight of that when you're in camp. It's just drill after drill and team work after team work. When you put something on the line it makes it a little more competitive, a little more fun. To come out on top is always how you want to do it and it was fun to throw to Joey Galloway to get that two-point conversion."

Who's hot: Brian Hoyer –The undrafted rookie free agent quarterback has seen his workload increase in recent days and he's dine well with them. While he doesn't possess the strongest arm, his passes are generally accurate and arrive on time. Gutierrez's release has to be perceived as a good sign for the former Spartan.

Who's not: Paris Lenon –Lenon is a tackling machine so it might be tough on him during camp when players aren't allowed to actually bring down the ball carrier, but the linebacker has had trouble getting off blocks in 9-on-7 drills and hasn't made much of an impact early on.

Play of the day –The aforementioned two-point conversion play wasn't the prettiest we've seen so far, but it was important. Hoyer made a nice through in traffic, and even though the ball was slightly behind Galloway, the veteran reached back and made a nice grab to create one of the first moments of emotion we've seen in camp.

Roll call

There were no additions or deletions on the attendance list as the same group that has been missing from practice in recent days remained out of uniform. Those not taking part in the workout included Jonathan Wilhite, Shawn Springs, Tedy Bruschi, Al Johnson, George Bussey, Ryan O'Callaghan, Benjamin Watson, Le Kevin Smith, Myron Pryor, Richard Seymour and Jarvis Green. The six players on NFI/PUP remained there while injured linebacker Tyrone McKenzie remains unsigned.

Notes

Newcomer Rob Ninkovich certainly has plenty of catching up to do after signing on the fourth day of camp, and the linebacker said he was already in catch-up mode a day later. "I'm coming it at Install 8 (signifying the number of practices the team had conducted at that time), so I have to do one through eight in a day," he said of the defense. "I'm just trying to get to where everyone is right now, just get up to speed." … The kick return unit got some work in Tuesday with Laurence Maroney, Matthew Slater, Terrence Wheatley, Julian Edelman, Kevin Faulk and Wes Welker getting reps as the returners. It will be interesting to watch how teams adjust to the new wedge rules that permit just two blockers within a yard of each other during returns. … The special teams units also worked on punting off the goal line. … There were a pair of CFL scouts on the field for the second straight day, one from the BC Lions and another from the Montreal Alouettes. … Hoyer operated with the first offense late in practice during a drill that began on the 35-yard line. After misfiring on an out to Moss, he hit Fred Taylor underneath for 14 yards to the 21, and two plays later made a great throw down the seam in the direction of Chris Baker. Unfortunately the tight end, who was well covered on the play, gave up a bit too soon and couldn't quite haul in the perfect pass as it bounced off his right hand in the end zone. … In what has become a daily activity, the team conducted a one-on-one tackling drill and Ray Ventrone made a huge play, making a perfect form tackle on Wheatley while also knocking the ball loose from the second-year corner and recovering the fumble. Taylor was also impressive in the drill, twice skating through untouched – first breaking Vinny Ciurciu's ankles with a little shake-and-bake and then doing the same to Gary Guyton. … Nick Kaczur did a nice job taking out Jerod Mayo after pulling from his right tackle spot on a Taylor run during a team period. … With Walter sporting No. 16, rookie receiver Shun White switched to 15. … The team will hit the field again for practice from 3:45 p.m.-5:15 p.m.

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