|Some quick notes from the Patriots’ Monday afternoon practice||08.15.11 at 6:00 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots held a Monday afternoon practice session that ran roughly 2 1/2 hours under the practice bubble, away from the rain. Here are a few quick highlights:
As for attendance, Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, Shane Vereen, James Sanders, Kevin Faulk and Mike Wright were working on rehab assignments throughout the session. Later, the following players showed up on the sidelines in shorts and T-shirts: Ras-I Dowling, Josh Barrett, Brandon Deaderick, Shaun Ellis and Ron Brace.
Stephen Gostkowski was in pads early, but took them off and spent a good portion of the session on the StairMaster. Not seen at all seen were Taylor Price, Malcolm Williams, Eric Kettani, Christian Cox, Jeff Tarpanian, Brandon Spikes, Marcus Cannon, Ryan Wendell, Albert Haynesworth and Jermaine Cunningham.
• The highlight of the day came in 11 on 11 drills when safety Pat Chung lit up tight end Aaron Hernandez after Hernandez caught a short pass. It was one of the biggest and nastiest hits of camp so far, as Chung simply took him to the ground. My second favorite defensive play of the day came when linebacker Gary Guyton made a great read on a pass from Brian Hoyer over the middle and cut in front of the ball, taking it back all the way for a touchdown. Great combination of smarts and speed for Guyton. Overall, the defense carried the day, making some big stops on the goal-line at the end of practice and forcing the offense to do some extra running before things broke up.
• With no Haynesworth on the field again, young defensive tackle Kyle Love continues to emerge as a real prospect. The Mississippi State product took most of the snaps next to Vince Wilfork, and is clearly emerging as one of the top backups along the defensive line. It will be interesting to see how his playing time changes when the veterans are in the lineup, but of the young defensive linemen in camp (Brace, Deaderick, etc.), Love has made the most of his opportunities to this point in the preseason.
• When the starting offense was on the field, it was tough not to notice how much time rookie Nate Solder spent lining up at left tackle. Even with Matt Light on the field in full pads, Solder got a ton of reps with the No. 1 offense next to Logan Mankins. Solder didn’t look overwhelmed, holding his own against a variety of pass rushers and looking like he belonged on the field.
• Offensively, Tom Brady and Hernandez had a nice connection — even with Bill Belichick tossing the blocking pad at him in the middle of the play in 7-on-7 work. In addition, Brady and Deion Branch had a sweet hookup in the back of the end zone over Leigh Bodden toward the end of practice. A really sharp, well-executed play. And Brian Hoyer hit Matthew Slater on a nicely executed play-action over Darius Butler (who saw an extended stretch working as a kick returner).
• Not saying that Belichick is into weather or anything, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that scattered thunderstorms are in the forecast for Tampa on Thursday night and he spent a good portion of practice soaking the football with a water bottle. It’s SOP for Belichick to prepare for situational football, but it was still funny to see him give a football a squirt and then walk away with a little smile on his face before the offense broke the huddle. (For what it’s worth, the offense handled the wet balls — heheh — without an issue.) Oh, and Chad Ochocinco — who had one drop but otherwise had a good practice — was rocking a sweet pair of gold cleats for the session.
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