Training Camp Report from Tuesday morning practice
|08.10.10 at 12:01 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots and Saints just finished up the first of their three joint practices down here at Gillette Stadium. It was a full house — with plenty of Saints jerseys — and a hot and humid day for practice, which was held in full pads on both sides. There wasn’t much real hitting, but there were several interesting moments. Here are a few notes:
•The following Patriots players were on the field, but in t-shirts and shorts: defensive back Terrence Johnson, wide receiver Torry Holt and defensive lineman Ron Brace. The following Patriots were not in attendance: wide receiver Matthew Slater, cornerback Leigh Bodden, defensive back Bret Lockett, outside linebacker/defensive end Derrick Burgess, offensive lineman Logan Mankins, linebacker Gary Guyton and defensive lineman Ty Warren.
•Plenty of notables were in attendance on the sidelines, including Friend of Bill Belichick Bon Jovi, as well as Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. There were several former New England players who drew big crowds, including Heath Evans, Randall “Blue” Gay and Dave Thomas. Many of the Patriots’ assistants were made available to the media, and wide receiver Wes Welker also spoke to reporters. In addition, New Orleans coach Sean Payton and quarterback Drew Brees also talked with reporters.
•Things started with the two teams split into individual stretching and drill work, with the Patriots taking the near practice field and the Saints on the far practice field. (Things were a little cramped, with drills taking place directly in front of fans on the near field.) The two teams came together roughly 1/3 of the way through practice, and opened with a series of one-on-one passing drills that matched up receivers and defenders. Welker continued to get good separation on defenders, but he did drop a ball on a play that was nicely defended by Gay. On that same series of drills, Randy Moss made a nice play over Saints’ defensive back Leigh Torrance. (Later in the same drill, Moss was covered by Jabari Greer, who knocked down a pass intended for No. 81.) And on the far practice field, Patriots corner Devin McCourty was the victim of a nice play by New Orleans’ wide receiver Adrian Arrington.
•In the 7-on-7 drills that followed, Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez continued to display an impressive versatility, as New England moved him all over the field, keeping him in tight against the tackles, dropping him into the slot on occasion and splitting him out wide. He did have a missed connection on one sequence with Brian Hoyer (who had two passes batted down on the day), but the two were able to find themselves a short time later when the two made a nice pass-and-catch play along the sidelines. Two more highlights included a Brady-to-Moss touchdown on the goal line where Moss somehow got 4-5 yards of separation in absolutely zero space, and a nifty pass breakup by Brandon McGowan on Reggie Bush. (Safety Brandon Meriweather had a nice pass breakup of tight end Jeremy Shockey.)
•Without Guyton, the Patriots appeared to go primarily with Brandon Spikes at inside linebacker. In addition, New England has been utilizing Marques Murrell more and more at outside linebacker with the starters, and it was no different today. And with Holt on the sideline, Brandon Tate continued to get lots of run with what appeared to be the starting offense, as the rookie was split wide opposite Moss on several occasions.
•It’s been discussed before, but Moss continues to have an excellent camp. He probably provided the offensive play of the day when he hooked up with Brady on a deep ball down the middle of the field, beating Usama Young and Greer to the ball and hauling it in for what would have been an approximately 65-yard touchdown pass down the center of the field. In the same practice drill, it appeared that New Orleans defensive back Tracy Porter made a clean pick of a Brady pass, and it appeared he could have taken it back to the house if given the opportunity.
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