Through seven days of training camp the Patriots have hit the practice fields 14 times. Eleven of those workouts, including earlier in the day on Wednesday were full-pads workouts. But for just the third time this summer New England hit the practice fields without pads, the second true walk-through of camp. The Patriots had one session earlier in camp in shells.
Wednesday afternoon players wore shorts/sweats for the session that focused on mental reps, beginning with some special teams and some kickoff work. That work included a number of different onside kicks.
The groups then split to separate fields and three groups working on offense, defense and special teams in walk-through reps. The offense seemed to focus on the running game, linemen working on their fits on their various blocking assignments.
The session then closed with the starters and more proven players leaving the fields while some of the younger and unproven types remained for what can best be described as an "opportunity" walk-through.
Since it was just a walk-through, the bulk of the roster was on the field for the afternoon walk-through. The likes of Richard Seymour, Ty Warren (PUP), Tedy Bruschi, Benjamin Watson, Shawn Crable (PUP) and others were in the mix of players on the field.
Baker, tight ends taking it all in
Chris Baker and Alex Smith both bring diverse skills with them to the New England offense. Added via free agency and trade respectively this offseason, both players have experience filling a variety of roles in their previous offenses in New York and Tampa Bay.
So far in camp they've been used in similarly diverse ways – as have David Thomas, Tyson DeVree and Benjamin Watson, before the latter was sidelined with an undisclosed injury. All have been lined up in a variety of spots all over the offense, in both the passing and running games. While Bill Belichick is on record talking about how competitive the action is at the position, the variety of skills the players possess is equally impressive. While none may be a Pro Bowler at this point, they're all getting a chance to shine at times early this summer.
The former-Jet Baker is still getting comfortable in all the various spots the Patriots tight ends are used while raving about the versatility of the New England scheme as a whole.
"It is definitely a complex offense. I think that's why the offense has been so good in the past. It presents a lot of different things, a lot of different looks and challenges to a defense," Baker said. "So it's on us to pick it up and know what is expected of us. That's what we're working at every day. It's going pretty good, though."
Sanders staying humble
James Sanders may be the most experienced returning member of the New England secondary. He may return under a new contract that puts a little more money in his pocket. And he may even be the guy Belichick recently described as, "very professional and you would like to have 53 players like James on your team in terms of his work ethic, his toughness [and] being a teammate."
Don't expect any of it to go to the soft-spoken, sure-tackling fifth-year safety's head.
"Like I'm doing something right," Sanders replied when asked for reaction to Belichick's praise. "For all the mistakes I guess…for every million mistakes I guess he gives me one comment. It means a lot coming from him. But I'm just doing my job."
NotesAfter addressing the media earlier in the day, the crew of NFL officials was not on the field for the walk-through but is expected to return to the field with the team again on Thursday. … Adalius Thomas wore a white towel on his head during the walk-through, resembling former WWE star the Iron Sheik. … In a note that wouldn't be a note on any day that wasn't a walk-through, more than half the players wore the same red, Patriots hat. … With the slower-than-normal nature of the afternoon, long snapper Nathan Hodel worked on his onside kicks between the practice fields. … Sammy Morris, ever the proud alum, wore a Texas Tech long sleeve ruby. … Bill Belichick spent most the time on the practice field chatting on the sidelines with Floyd Reese and Jason Licht. … The Patriots will return to the practice fields Thursday morning at 9:30 A.M. for the first of two scheduled sessions.