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Training camp report from Sunday morning session

08.01.10 at 11:55 am ET
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FOXBORO — The first of two Patriots’ practices for Sunday is in the books. There was plenty for fans, who once again braved the heat and packed the bleachers and grass areas alike, to be happy about with the return of Wes Welker from the physically unable to perform list and he didn’t seem to disappoint. In addition to Welker’s return, there were plenty of noteworthy facets to the session. Here are a few:

- The Derrick Burgess watch continues as he was absent from practice and reports that the pass-rusher will retire are practically ubiquitous. Other players not in attendance were guard Logan Mankins, whose contract dispute still has yet to reach a resolution, receiver Matthew Slater, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur, and defensive end Ty Warren.

Defensive linemen Ron Brace and Mike Wright, defensive backs Bret Lockett and  Terrence Johnson, and running back Thomas Clayton were present but were in sweats.

- Hard not to like the fire that Welker showed as he donned the pads once again. No. 83 didn’t participate in any drills against defenses, but overall looked very clean running and catching the ball. He made a number of nice catches along the sideline on balls thrown by Brady, with the one slipup — a dropped ball over the middle – yielding a frustrated shout accompanied by him kicking the ball toward the sidelines. It doesn’t appear Welker is cutting himself any slack in his return from his knee injury.

- The punt return duties were split up by second year receivers Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate as well as Kevin Faulk. All three looked clean in fielding punts from rookie punter Zoltan Mesko.

- A few notes on passing situations. Fred Taylor, who struggled mightily catching the ball in organized team activities earlier in the summer, made a very nice catch away from his body on a throw from Zac Robinson. It’s far too early to form opinions on anyone, but some of Robinson’s tosses needed more adjustments on the receivers than one would like..

- With the Mankins saga still taking place and Kaczur not on the field, the left guard position was occupied primarily by Ryan Wendell and Rich Ohrnberger. Neither stood out as being particularly good or bad, though Wendell struggled against Vince Wilfork on a play that forced Tom Brady to hurry a throw down the sidelines to Tate, a pass that was dropped despite an acrobatic attempt by the second year receiver.

- Brady sailed one well over the head of Moss in a passing drill. Though the ball was headed for the crowd, a security guard picked it up and rolled it back toward the practice field. Moss, much to the delight of those on hand, recovered the ball and jogged it over past the sidelines and tossed it to a young fan. He then gestured to the fan to toss the ball back, making for an abbreviated game of catch the fan likely did not head to Foxboro expecting.

- Matt Light and rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski fell victim to laps. The two were sent running when they jumped a little early on a goal-line play.

-  A second round pick in April’s draft, Gronkowski made up for his earlier mistake by standing up a previous second-rounder. After reeling in a pass from Brady, Gronkowski plowed through safety Patrick Chung on the goal line, knocking the safety to the ground and getting into the endzone.

Sunday’s workouts will conclude with a session that runs from 3:45-5:30. Stay tuned for a complete report from the afternoon session.

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Welker will return to practice

08.01.10 at 9:24 am ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio announced Sunday morning that wide receiver Wes Welker will come off the PUP list and return to practice immediately.

“Wes [Welker] will return to practice this morning,” Caserio said in a press conference prior to the start of Sunday morning’s session. “He’s ready to go now. He’s deemed physically ready to go based on the tests and what our trainers have decided.”

Welker injured his left knee in January in the regular-season finale against the Texans, and underwent surgery in February. He was working on a limited basis with the team throughout spring practices, and was placed active/physically unable to perform list at the start of training camp.

In 14 games last season, Welker led the NFL with 123 receptions and finished second in receiving yards with 1,348. Since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season, he’s caught 346 passes, more than anyone else in the league in that time.

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Training Camp Report from Saturday afternoon session

07.31.10 at 5:53 pm ET
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Tom Brady signed some autographs after practice today in Foxboro. (AP)

FOXBORO — The Patriots just put the wraps on their Saturday afternoon practice session, their first of the day in pads. It was held under a slightly overcast, cool day, with a packed house in the stands. Here are a few quick notes:

•When it comes to attendance, the following players were present but not in pads: Defensive lineman Ron Brace, wide receiver Wes Welker, defensive lineman Kyle Love, running back Thomas Clayton and defensive back Bret Lockett. Not present were wide receiver Matthew Slater, outside linebacker Derrick Burgess, offensive lineman Logan Mankins, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur and defensive lineman Ty Warren.

•With no Kaczur to work on Mankins’ spot at left guard, Dan Connolly and Ted Larsen appeared to take the majority of reps at that position.

•Brandon Tate and Taylor Price continue to have impressive camps. In a pass-catching drill where receivers were in one-on-one coverage with cornerbacks, Tate made an impressive move on the corner opposite him and make an impressive reception from Tom Brady on a deep ball down the sidelines. Price also had some nice grabs, but was victimized in the same drill when a Brady pass intended for him was knocked away at the last second on a nice play by Brandon Meriweather.

•On the defensive side of the ball, Brandon McGowan had a pass from Zac Robinson drop right into his lap, while Thomas Williams made an alert play, coming up with an interception on a ball that popped out of the grasp of Darnell Jenkins. But perhaps the defensive highlight of the afternoon came when Patrick Chung got wayyyyyyyyyy up on a ball meant for Taylor Price along the sidelines. Chung did an impressive job leaping, picking off the ball and managing to come down inbounds. Probably the finest play of the camp for the Oregon product, who has almost constantly been teamed with Meriweather at the safety position throughout the early stages.

•Brady and Dan Koppen took their first penalty lap of camp after a botched snap late in practice … but let’s just say they appeared to shave some distance off their run when the coaches weren’t watching. We’ll just leave it at that.

•Many of you have asked me about the progress of Florida product Jermaine Cunningham. The rookie has started to work more and more with what appears to be a reasonable facsimile of the No. 1 defense — he spent plenty of time with them this afternoon. With the uncertainty looming at the outside linebacker spot for the Patriots, it’s a safe bet that he will continue to get more and more opportunities as camp continues.

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Report: Burgess telling people he’s going to retire

07.31.10 at 2:09 pm ET
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According to a report from Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network, Patriots linebacker Derrick Burgess continues to tell both current and former players he is retiring, but has yet to file paperwork with the league office. Burgess, who has yet to report to Patriots’ training camp, signed a one-year deal with New England this past offseason. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Friday that the team still expects Burgess to report. “Of course, Derrick wasn’t here yesterday,” Belichick said Friday morning. “We expect him to be here. He’s not here. But his situation isn’t unprecedented. We’ll deal with it going forward. I’m not sure I know all I need to know, but we’ll take it day-by-day.”

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Complete transcript of David Patten’s retirement press conference

07.31.10 at 1:27 pm ET
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Thanks to the good people in the Patriots’ PR department, here’s the complete transcript of the David Patten retirement press conference, which took place today at Gillette Stadium:

Bill Belichick: I spoke with David [Patten] this morning and David and I have a great relationship. We go all the way back to 2000. Even though he wasn’t here in 2000, we go back that far. David and I talked this morning and he informed me of his desire to retire at this point. I just wanted to say a few words and we’ll announce that here in a couple minutes. Our relationship started in 2000 when I first got here and he was one of the first players we tried to sign. Unfortunately, we weren’t in a very good salary cap situation – we were like 35 million over the cap or whatever it was. So he ended up signing with the Giants. I don’t know, 150, 200 bucks? What did we lose out on there? But anyway, then in 2001 we were able to work things out and we were in a much better position then and David came here and has really been a outstanding player for this organization. One of the things I would say about David [is] we have a lot of players that work hard, but I think David sets the pace for work ethic. In the offseason program he’s always out in front. He’s always the one that other players try to keep up with and he’s got a great attitude, a very professional attitude and his work ethic, his toughness and of course his speed and receiving ability – those are the things that kept him in the league and made him the outstanding player that he was. There are a number of times when I’ve been over in the Hall [at Patriot Place] next door or you flip on the TV and it seems like there’s always a David Patten highlight. He had so many big plays for us – of course the catch in Super Bowl 36. I remember when we changed that play; I can still see it down there in the Tulane practice field. We ran the out-cut. I was talking to Ernie [Adams] and [we] felt like they would be sitting on the route just the way we were playing. And then Charlie [Weis] and I talked about it and we turned it into an out-and-up and it was the only offensive touchdown in the game. That’s just a typical David Patten play, although he made one the week before against Pittsburgh for a touchdown in that game from Drew [Bledsoe]. He’s had a tremendous career. He’s meant a lot to this team, a lot to this organization, again going back to ’01, ’02, ’03, when we were getting the program started. The toughness and the attitude and the leadership that he brought to our football team in a kind of quiet, Troy Brown kind of way. He just did his job, worked hard, just set the pace for everybody else to keep up with, including the coaches. He’d outwork us too. That was very important. So in bringing David back this year, we had a good conversation in the offseason and he wanted to continue to play. He can still run. He’s made a lot of plays in the spring and even in training camp. We talk about him in the defensive meetings all the time about his vertical speed and his big play ability. I think he’s had a good camp, but I know – and we went through this last year with Tedy – I know that there’s a time. And I’ve had experience with a lot of players and it all ends for them and us at some point. And I know when a player says it’s time, and somebody like David who has thought about it and has the experience that he has, when he says it’s time, I know that it is time. It’s a sad moment, but it’s also a very happy one to celebrate a truly great career. The rags to riches story coming off of unloading coffee bags or beans or whatever it was, to the NFL career that he’s had, it’s just a tremendous story and very deserving of the type of person and the type of player that David was for the New England Patriots and throughout his career in the league. So we say goodbye, we wish him well and from the bottom of my heart, thank him for his contributions to our football team, this organization, this community. And on a personal note, my sincere personal thanks for all you’ve done for me and for our football team.

Q: Why are you retiring?
DP: Trust me, this is in no way, shape or form what I anticipated coming back here this year. I’m actually a little sad that I’m proving some of the naysayers right this morning. Some kind of felt that I just came and signed back with the team just to retire, but that was no way any part of my thought process. I honestly felt like I could still play this game and play it at a high level. I felt like the competitive, spirited nature was still here, but over the course of the last two days, over the course of the break away from the team, there was a lot of reflection, and there was a lot of contemplation and it just felt like it was time. It just hit me yesterday. As I stated earlier, camp was going really well. I was still able to go out there and be competitive and operate at a high level, but you know, I l believe once you get to the point in your career where it’s multiple years – it would have been my 13th year – once you begin to start to think about it mentally and you’re not 100 percent in it mentally-wise, it’s tough to play this game. I always felt like when I got to that point, it would just be in my best interest to walk away.
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Patriots’ fifth camp practice a walkthough

07.31.10 at 12:17 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After two days of double practices, the Patriots Saturday morning practice was a walkthough in T-shirts and shorts. They have a second practice scheduled for Saturday that’s scheduled to run from 3:45 to 5:30 p.m.

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Teammates talk about Patten’s influence

07.31.10 at 11:51 am ET
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In the wake of David Patten announcing his retirement, a handful of teammates talked about the influence the wide receiver had on them, both on and off-the-field.

Veteran offensive lineman Matt Light, who was a teammate of Patten’s in New England from 2001-04
I was actually looking forward to playing with DP again. … It’s a tough deal. Although it seems to happen each season, somebody retires. I can remember going all the way back to my rookie year, we had a couple of linemen retire. It seems to happen. I was actually looking forward to playing with DP. A good guy. A great leader. A good guy to have in the locker room.

What stands out for you about him?
I just think his work ethic. He’s a humble guy. He goes about his business the right way. A true professional that other guys look up to, and he’s a good role model for the younger cats to come in and maybe have an idea as to what the league is all about. He sets them on the right path. And he’s a good who guys out there and makes plays. He always did when he was here, and I always respected him about that.
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