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Some quick notes on the Patriots Friday afternoon practice

08.05.11 at 7:23 pm ET
By

Nate Solder (AP)

FOXBORO — The Patriots held a practice session that ran for roughly three hours in hot and humid conditions Friday afternoon on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. Here are a few quick notes from that session:

•The following players were not on the field: Shane Vereen, Kevin Faulk, Eric Kettani, Brandon Spikes, Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendell, Albert Haynesworth and Mike Wright. The following players were in shorts and sweats: Brandon Tate, Ras-I Dowling, James Sanders, Josh Barrett, Brandon Deaderick, Kyle Hix, Matt Light, Myron Pryor and Ron Brace.

•It was a better day for the offense, as things looked pretty sharp on their side of the ball for most of the afternoon. Chad Ochocinco, who had been plagued by some drops through the early stages of camp, was able to shake off what had been a subpar start and make some nice catches, including a sweet grab at the back of the end zone in a bullet from quarterback Tom Brady, beating out cornerback Devin McCourty. In addition, Rob Gronkowski continues to impress, catching just about everything thrown in his direction. (He also delivered an absolute crushing block on linebacker Gary Guyton in a blocking drill.) There were some sloppy moments — quarterback Brian Hoyer and center/guard Rich Ohrnberger ran a lap because of a missed exchange, while rookie tight end Lee Smith got a real earful from coach Bill Belichick after a false start in goal-line offense work and had to run a lap. But all in all, one of the better days for the offense.

•It’s interesting to watch the progression of backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. The rookie has an absolute hose for an arm, but still appears to struggle when it comes to putting some touch on the ball. He delivered some lasers at close range to tight ends Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, balls that were simply uncatchable because of their speed. (For what it’s worth, Mallett got the closest of the three quarterbacks in the bucket drill, hitting the side. Roughly a week into camp, and the only quarterback to successful hit the bucket was quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who was cut loose a few days ago.)

•With Light on the sidelines in shorts and a t-shirt, rookie left tackle Nate Solder was part of the starting offense, and continued to perform admirably. He’s raw, but as was the case in his first padded practice on Thursday afternoon, Solder stands out not so much for his body type but his wingspan, and managed to hold off most of the onrushing linemen and linebackers with ease.

•Second-year wide receiver Taylor Price has looked solid across the board. Whether it’s working with the wideouts — he made a great grab on Friday afternoon on a pass from Brady — or in the return game, he has made the most of his opportunities. He might get squeezed out from serious playing time because of a numbers game, but has certainly made a positive impression through the early days of camp.

•On defense, with no Haynesworth and Wright holding things down at defensive tackle, the Patriots turned to second-year defensive lineman Kyle Love, who appeared to move pretty well with the starting defense. (He did a nice job creating havoc on a goal-lie stand late in practice.) McCourty had a really impressive pass breakup on a deep ball from Hoyer to Matt Slater. And one other defensive play of note … Jerod Mayo just blew up running back Danny Woodhead on a blitz pickup drill.

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