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Quick notes on Patriots’ Sunday afternoon practice

07.31.11 at 5:09 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” The Patriots wrapped up their second fully padded practice of the year Sunday afternoon, a session that lasted just over two hours in the hot July sun. For the first time, it really felt like training camp, as it was a long, hot practice for both sides with some real hitting.

‘€¢ With the understanding that several of the players had “excused absences” because of contractual situations (players with new deals are allowed to be on the field and watch practice until the start of the new league year, Aug. 4), the following guys were not on the field: Ras-I Dowling, Kyle Arrington, Shane Vereen, Brandon McGowan, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Eric Kettani, Logan Mankins, Nate Solder and Steve Williams. In addition, the following players were on the field in shorts and/or sweats: James Sanders, Josh Barrett, Matt Katula, Marcus Cannon, Mike Berry, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Love, Myron Pryor, Tracy White and Ron Brace.

(Dowling, Vereen and Solder are the three remaining picks who are unsigned, while Arrington, McGowan, Faulk, Morris, White and Mankins all have new deals.)

‘€¢ It was a pretty eventful practice, and a few of the highlights were provided by newcomer Albert Haynesworth. The massive defensive lineman, who drew loud and sustained applause when he strolled on the field at the start of his first padded practice (applause he acknowledged with a wave), hammered the offensive linemen who were opposite him ‘€” namely Rich Ohrnberger and Ryan Wendell ‘€” in a series of drills. The season is still in its embryonic stages, but it was undeniable that when he was out there, the big fella certainly made an impact. (When he wasn’t on the field, he was close to d-line coach Pepper Johnson.) In all, he was on the field for no more than 10-15 snaps the afternoon. At the end of practice, he sat and watched, doing some stretching, as the rest of the veterans ran sprints.

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Read More: 2011 training camp, Albert Haynesworth,

Deion Branch advises Chad Ochocinco: ‘Try not to learn too much’ for now

07.31.11 at 3:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Deion Branch is not threatened by Chad Ochocinco‘s arrival on the scene in Foxboro. As a matter of fact, the veteran receiver said Sunday following a walk-through at Gillette Stadium that he welcomes another star receiver who has the potential of improving the passing game.

But Branch cautioned both fans and Ochocinco himself not to expect too much, too soon in camp in an offense that quarterback Tom Brady admitted can be very difficult to pick up for newcomers.

“I think it’s one day at a time,” Branch advised. “Try not to learn too much. We’re in Day 4, try not to learn Day 8 right now. It’s all about taking one day at time and get everything right before you can do it fast. It’s a big difference when you’re doing stuff fast and wrong. We’re all out here still making mistakes. Nothing’s perfect right now. We’re all learning each and every day. Chad’s not the only person that’s learning, let’s be honest.

“It means a lot. This guy’s been known for stretching the field, just a great player to have on your team. With open arms, I’m excited to have him. I’m glad he’s part of our team and we’re not going against him.”

Branch, who has played with the Patriots and Seahawks, has played under four different offensive coordinators and says this offense under Bill O’Brien and led by Brady might be the most complicated he’s seen.

“It’s pretty hard. A lot of guys go through a bunch of different offenses. I’ve been in four myself. It’s quite complex but I think if you take it one day at a time, you’ll get it.”

So what makes it so tough?

“The coaches expect a lot from us,” Branch said. “Tom expects the same thing. Guys just have to get into the playbook. It’s a complex offense. There’s a lot of things that go on at the line of scrimmage. It’s varies from game-to-game.”

As for the offense in general, Branch said it was great to be out on the field again and working with Brady. Branch and Ochocinco worked with Brady and the first-team offense on Sunday during the fourth day of training camp practices as head coach Bill Belichick looked on.

“It’s great,” Branch said. “We still have a lot of work in progress. We have to sit back and wait and let coach Belichick unfold everything and then we’ll see what we can put on the football field.”

Branch was asked if having Ochocinco would’ve helped stretch the field in the playoff loss to the Jets last January.

“It’s a whole lot of stuff that went wrong,” Branch said. “I don’t want to talk about the past but we beat them the first time with just doing our normal stuff, doing out thing. They had a great game plan. They executed, we didn’t. That’s why we lost.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2011 training camp, Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch

With O-line questions, Sebastian Vollmer ready to tackle any challenge

07.31.11 at 1:21 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Patriots All-Pro right tackle Sebastian Vollmer is capable of handling what he’s had to in his short NFL career. Since becoming a starter as a rookie in 2009, the Germany native has been a big part of Tom Brady‘s success and the overall makeup of the team’s o-line. Now, the uncertainty regarding two other tackles might mean the 27-year-old could be moving to protect Brady’s blind side.

With veteran left tackle Matt Light unsigned and 17th overall pick Nate Solder both unsigned and likely too raw to jump in as a starter at left tackle, Vollmer could potentially end up making the switch for a season.

Vollmer spent his entire second season at right tackle, though he started five games at left as a rookie. As long as the tackle is playing tackle, Vollmer isn’t concerned with where he is on the line.

“Like every player, whatever I’m told, [I'm] going to do to help the team,” Vollmer said after Sunday morning’s practice. “If they want to put me at receiver [I'll do it], you know? Whatever the coach says, I’ll do.”

He has obviously earned the most acclaim on the right side, as his second-team All-Pro selection came last season as a right tackle, but if circumstances leave Vollmer at left tackle, he doesn’t feel there’s enough of a preference for him to care.

“I don’t think it matters,” Vollmer said. “That’s what practice is about. I have no idea what’s going tomorrow, so you’ve got to be ready to play whatever whenever you’re told to.”

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Read More: 2011 training camp, Nate Solder, Patriots camp, Sebastian Vollmer

Notes: Albert Haynesworth practices with Patriots

07.31.11 at 12:26 pm ET
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FOXBORO — After passing his conditioning test, newly acquired defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth hit the field with the Patriots in Sunday morning’s walkthrough. Judging by the sluggish pace of the very light practice, it’s probably safe to say the conditioning test was probably more telling/interesting than anything on the field Sunday morning. With the team working in shorts, Haynesworth worked with his fellow defensive linemen in the session. The first real look at him in action, so to speak, will come in Sunday afternoon’s session, which promises to be faster-paced. Here are a few other notes from the morning:

‘€¢ Haynesworth was in his familiar No. 92 uniform. He has worn the number since his days as a Tennessee Volunteer.

‘€¢ Not spotted participating in practice were Kyle Arrington, Shane Vereen, Brandon McGowan, Kevin Faulk, Sammy Morris, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Eric Kettani, Marcus Cannon, Logan Mankins, Nate Solder and Steve Williams. While the likes of Solder, Dowling and Vereen simply have yet to ink their rookie contracts, others cannot yet practice due to their new contracts technically keeping them out presumably until Aug. 4. Mankins, who signed his franchise tender this week was in attendance, as he watched the practice but did not take part in anything.

‘€¢ Pats director of player personnel Nick Caserio said before the session that the Patriots are encouraged by where things stand with Cannon, an offensive lineman dealing with non-Hodgkins lymphoma whom the Pats drafted in the fifth round in April. Cannon is signed, though he has yet to practice with the team. “I think he’s still kind of going through his process,” Caserio said. “He looks great. He’s done everything that he’s been asked to do to this point. I think we’re all optimistic. I don’t think were going to rush into anything, and I think we’re going to let that timetable sort of run its course. He’s here. He’ll be here. I think there’s a few more steps for him along the way that he’s going to take care of, but Marcus has been great. He’s doing great, he’s in good spirits, so we’re optimistic.

“The most important thing is for him to be healthy, and that’s of the utmost importance. Whenever we get to that point when he’s ready to go, we’ll begin working with him, but it’s good to have him here. It’s good for him to be around the team. It’s good for us to be around him here a little bit. He’s moving in the right direction, and certainly things look promising to this point, but you don’t want to jump ahead too far.”

‘€¢ The session was moved back half an hour due to team meetings running a little long, causing it to run from around 10:30 to 11:30 rather than the scheduled 10 a.m. start. It shouldn’t impact the start time of the afternoon session, which is set to run from 2:30-5 p.m.

Read More: 2011 training camp, Albert Haynesworth, Marcus Cannon, Patriots camp

Report: Plaxico Burress signs with Jets

07.31.11 at 10:09 am ET
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ESPN Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the Jets have signed Plaxico Burress to a one-year, $3 million contract.

Burress has been out of the NFL since late 2008, when he accidentally shot himself in the leg at a New York city nightclub. A grand jury indicted Burress in August 2009 on two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a firearm, and one count of second-degree reckless endangerment. Burress was released from prison on June 6 and was quickly reinstated to the NFL.

Burress had been a very productive wide receiver before the gunshot wound ended his 2008 season and took him out of football for two years. He caught over 1,000 yards four times from 2001 to 2007 and averaged over seven touchdown receptions per season over that stretch.

Read More: 2011 NFL Signings,

Agent for Tony Carter alleges cornerback is healthy, was cut before he left for training camp

07.30.11 at 10:05 pm ET
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The agency representing cornerback Tony Carter ‘€” who was released by the Patriots earlier this week for reportedly failing his physical ‘€” said Carter is healthy and was cut before he even left his home in Florida for training camp.

The tweet read as follows:

Tony was informed of his impending release by the New England Patriots head coach PRIOR to his departure for camp


Tony took the call about his release as he was packing to report for camp for an on time departure from his apartment in Orlando, Florida where he spent this off-season training.

Tony was, and continues to be 100% healthy.

Tony is still thankful for his time with the Patriots football club, and looks forward to the next steps of his career.

The 25-year-old defensive back joined New England’s practice squad last September and was promoted to the 53-man roster for the last three games of the 2010 season.

Read More: 2011 training camp, Patriots camp, Tony Carter,

Patriots add two old faces in McGowan and White, drop a rookie

07.30.11 at 6:03 pm ET
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The Patriots announced Saturday afternoon that they have re-signed veteran defensive back Brandon McGowan and linebacker Tracy White, and have released rookie linebacker Anthony Leonard.

The return of McGowan and White will provide the New England special teams unit with a dependable pair of veterans. The 27-year-old McGowan, who joined the Patriots in 2009, was on injured reserve for all of 2010 with a chest injury. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound McGowan has amassed 181 tackles, two interceptions, 10 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries over his six-year career, including 66 total tackles, 10 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 2009. He currently projects as a special teamer and backup safety.

The 30-year-old White is a nine-year veteran who came to New England in 2010, and evolved into a special teamer last year, finishing with 18 special teams tackles for the Patriots in 2010.

As for Leonard, there seems to be some question about his future. The rookie free agent out of West Virginia, who was originally signed on July 27, initially tweeted that he was being placed on injured reserve ‘€” which was quickly removed ‘€” then he added: “A Detour sign is not a “dead end”… It’s directions to the rite path.” Bottom line there? He could be in the team’s future plans. Last season with West Virginia, he started all 13 games and finished third on the team with 70 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss.

Read More: 2011 training camp, Anthony Leonard, Brandon McGowan, Patriots camp
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