|Monday practice report||08.23.10 at 3:35 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Forced inside by the dreary conditions, the Patriots just wrapped up a Monday afternoon practice in the bubble. Here are a few quick notes:
•The session was held in shorts and shoulder pads, and the following players were not in attendance: wide receiver Julian Edelman, wide receiver Matthew Slater, defensive back Bret Lockett, defensive lineman Kade Weston, offensive lineman Logan Mankins, offensive lineman Nick Kaczur and defensive back Josh Barrett. The following players were in T-shirts and shorts, and spent much of the time riding exercise bikes: wide receiver Darnell Jenkins, linebacker Eric Alexander, offensive lineman Mark LeVoir, tight end Aaron Hernandez and linebacker Jermaine Cunningham.
•While a lot of regulars were back on the field for the first time in a while — like cornerback Leigh Bodden and outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain — the backups continued to get plenty of reps, including rookie Devin McCourty at corner, who appeared to get a LOT of time with a reasonable facsimile of the starting defense. (With the return of Derrick Burgess, it appears that, at least for now, Marques Murrell has been bumped down the depth chart.) The Patriots also made some serious rotations at the safety spot, breaking up the usual combos of James Sanders/Brandon McGowan and Pat Chung/Brandon Meriweather.
•Speaking of Meriweather, he was standing directly in the line of fire on a pass in the end zone. The ball hit him right in the hands and he dropped it.
•New offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka made an appearance shortly after the start of practice. He was wearing No. 68, spent most of the practice at tackle and had his ankles heavily taped and was wearing knee braces on both knees. While the Patriots added Ojinnaka before practice, they confirmed that defensive back Terrence Johnson had been cut loose. In addition, Patriots coach Bill Belichick hinted there would be more roster moves in the offing later today, and it appears that one of those moves would be the return of diminutive defensive back Ross Ventrone, who was back on the field with his teammates.
•Not much stood out when it came to the on-field product this afternoon, but without Hernandez on the field, it was Rob Gronkowski’s time to shine. As was the case in last week’s preseason game against the Falcons when the two connected on a touchdown pass, the rookie tight end and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer continued to display a nice chemistry, with the two connecting on multiple occasions throughout the practice session. Gronkowski also caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady over McGowan, and Gronkowski and Brady celebrated after the score.
•Working in the bubble is always tough for special teamers — they have precious little room to practice snaps, punts and kickoff work. (When they’re outside, they usually have a full field all to themselves.) But it was a nice workout from punter Zoltan Mesko, who was booming punts off the ceiling before the team just gave up and started using a JUGS gun.
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