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Notes from the Patriots’ Thursday morning OTA session

05.31.12 at 1:45 pm ET
By

FOXBORO — The Patriots just wrapped up an OTA session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium under a brilliant late-spring sky. The practice, held in shorts, sweats and T-shirts, ran for roughly 90 minutes, and like last week’s session that the media had access to, had the same pace as an uptempo training camp practice — quick and efficient, but not too fast. Here are a few quick notes:

•The following players were not spotted on the field for the duration of the session: offensive linemen Brian Waters, Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer; wide receiver Jeremy Ebert and tight end Daniel Fells. As was the case last week, tight end Rob Gronkowski worked off to the side, running sprints and stretching. Meanwhile, special teamer Matthew Slater, linebacker Tracy White and running back Joseph Addai also worked off to the side. (Addai looked nimble working through cone drills.) Linebacker Brandon Spikes started with the team in the stretching line, and then appeared to depart for the practice bubble.

•With the understanding that very little should be read into personnel moves because it’s still May, there were some interesting faces in different places. On the offensive line, with no Mankins, Waters or Vollmer, Robert Gallery got a lot of snaps at right guard, while Marcus Cannon saw plenty of time at right tackle. In addition, Dan Connolly and Dan Koppen rotated pretty steadily at center, with Donald Thomas (who didn’t play center last season) working as a backup center for portions of the workout. Connolly and Ryan Wendell also rotated in at the guard spots, while Nate Solder spent most of his time working as the left tackle with what appeared to be the No. 1 offensive line.

•Quarterback Tom Brady was pretty animated throughout the practice, while offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was a hands-on presence with the quarterbacks.

•In 7-on-7′s, there were several different combinations utilized in the secondary, but it is worth noting that for the second consecutive week, McCourty appeared to take the bulk of the reps at cornerback. (It looked like McCourty and Ras-I Dowling were paired as the starting corners.) There were several different pairings at safety, including Nate Ebner and Pat Chung, Ebner and Ross Ventrone and Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown. Steve Gregory rotated into the mix as well. Ebner made a nice pass breakup on a pass from Brian Hoyer that was intended for Brandon Lloyd.

•One interesting special teams note — Donte Stallworth worked briefly as a kick returner, along with Julian Edelman, Danny Woodhead and Devin McCourty. Working as a special teamer would almost certainly increase Stallworth’s chances of making the final roster. (It’s worth noting that the last time he worked as a returner was 2005 with New Orleans.) One other thing regarding Stallworth — he appeared to tweak something in the early stages of practice, limping off and spending time on the sidelines. It didn’t appear serious, as he was quickly back on the field.

•Lloyd looked comfortable again working with the wide receivers, not overwhelmed by much at all. It was a relatively uneventful session for the bulk of the receivers. (After appearing to struggle through much of last week’s session, Chad Ochocinco didn’t really pop up much on the radar. He did have a very nice catch on a pass from Brian Hoyer in passing drills early on in practice.) Other skill position highlights included running back Stevan Ridley working with what appeared to be a reasonable facsimile of the starting offense in 11-on-11 drills near the end of practice. (He looked good, but dropped a short pass from backup Ryan Mallett toward the end of the practice.)

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