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Patriots minicamp notes, 6/17

06.17.10 at 1:50 pm ET
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Belichick addresses the team at the end of practice on Thursday. (Photo courtesy @realpatriots Twitter feed.)

FOXBORO — Just wrapped up the final day of the Patriots minicamp down here on the fields in back of Gillette Stadium. The third of three minicamp practices ran just shy of two hours, under occasionally cloudy skies. Here are a few quick notes on what went down.

•The afternoon has a last-day-before-summer-vacation kind of feel to it, as many players sprinted off the field after a quick word from coach Bill Belichick at the end of practice. Players are now done with spring commitments, and they will not gather as a group again until the start of training camp at the end of July.

“We have a long way to go,” Belichick said when he was asked about his final message to the players before they left town. “Everyone will be on their own for a while. We need to continue to work and get ourselves in good condition both physically and mentally. A lot of techniques and individual things guys can work on in order to get better. It is different for each guy.”

•Not many players were requested by the media — instead, Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio, quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien and wide receivers coach Chad O’Shea spoke with the media. We’ll have those details along shortly.

•The entire roster was present, except for guard Logan Mankins and tackle Matt Light. It was the third consecutive minicamp practice that Mankins has missed, who is upset about his contract situation. There was some shuffling along the offensive line, but in their place, Nick Kaczur appeared to get the bulk of the time with the starters at right tackle, while Sebastian Vollmer was at left tackle and Dan Connolly spent a good amount of time working at Mankins’ left guard position.

•As he has done all spring, wide receiver Wes Welker went through stretching and drills with the team, but departed when team drills began.

•While the energy level was high, it was a relatively uneventful practice session. One of the highlights was a sweet connection between Tom Brady and David Patten that looks straight out of 2002 — Patten streaked down the near sideline and hauled in what appeared to be a 40-yard pass, beating James Sanders and Brandon McGowan for the ball before taking it to the end zone.

•The veteran receivers are interesting to watch for several reasons. First, Torry Holt is always moving. Whether it’s jumping up and down, doing a Papelbon-style jig, engaging in good-natured karate kicks with teammates or shuffling his feet like a boxer in a ring, he’s always moving. As for Patten, he’s had his moments this spring (like the deep ball we talked about in the previous graf), but he’s also taken a lead role in working with the younger receivers. There was one point today where he was able to pull Matthew Slater off to the side, and the two could be seen walking through a route.

“We have veteran football players, and we have young football players, and we’re very fortunate to have that combination,” O’Shea said after practice. “The veteran players do a tremendous job of helping along the younger players. I definitely see that on a daily basis. It’s one of the great things about having a combination of veteran players and younger players.”

•Brian Hoyer finished up a strong camp with an impressive deep ball for rookie Taylor Price, who beat Brandon Meriweather in the far corner of the end zone for the touchdown. (It wasn’t all peaches and cream for Hoyer, who was the victim of an impressive pick by Darius Butler, who could have taken it back to the house if he wanted to. Hoyer did a nice job bouncing back, though, connecting with Slater on the very next play on a reception over the middle.) Hoyer remains impressive — I did a story on his standout spring here — and is clearly more at ease with his situation.

•More good special teams action for a chunk of the afternoon as well. Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman and Devin McCourty took turns as kick returner.

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