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Ten things we learned from Day 2 of Patriots training camp

07.27.12 at 5:42 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Donte’ Stallworth, Dont’a Hightower, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were among the several Patriots who addressed the media after Friday’s two-hour practice on the fields outside of Gillette Stadium. Here’s the rundown of the player’s who didn’t have practice as usual.

‘€¢ Just like Thursday, both Matthew Slater and James Ihedigbo were donning the red non-contact jerseys, though both saw plenty of action.

‘€¢ Jake Ballard (PUP) and Brian Waters (absence) were no-shows again today and were joined by Myron Pryor.

‘€¢ Those that were present, but in T-shirts and shorts rather than practicing, were Jeremy Ebert, Nate Ebner, Nick McDonald, Sebastian Vollmer, Logan Mankins and Markus Zusevics. Daniel Fells was also seen in a T-shirt and shorts, the first time since spring the tight end had been present.

Here are other nine things we learned Friday.

TOM BRADY REBOUNDS

Brady, known for taking extra reps when he struggles, did just that early in practice. He underthrew Brandon Lloyd on a deep ball that may have been a pass interference on Sergio Brown. Linebacker Bobby Carpenter then picked him off a few plays later on an ugly ball that fluttered right into his hands.

But the 34-year-old eventually kicked it in gear later in practice when he had a stretch of four straight beautiful passes including a ball that perfectly dropped in right over the shoulder of safety Steve Gregory and into the hands of running back Shane Vereen.

HERNANDEZ RETURNS PUNTS

The Florida product, known for his versatility, took some punts Friday. While he was clearly slotted as the fourth guy behind Julian Edelman, Wes Welker and Deion Branch, he did take three reps as the return man.

Hernandez as a punt returner is clearly an emergency-only situation and it doesn’t seem like Friday’s work will change any of that. He handled all the punts without muffing, but he avoided using the fair catch signal on one that might have cost him an injury if it was a live game situation.

TOUGH DAY FOR MARQUICE COLE

The former Jet had a rough second day of training camp as he looked out of sorts in one-on-one coverage. On two separate occasions, he was turned around by a picture-perfect Brady pass. The first one Brady launched a ball deep down the middle of the field that sent Cole spinning around before the ball found Aaron Hernandez‘s hands. Four plays later Cole was again turn around by another Brady deep pass to Hernandez, this time closer to the sideline.

PLAY OF THE DAY

While the day was filled with some phenomenal passes from Brady, one play stood out. With Hernandez running a post and Cole covering him, the quarterback fired a perfect spiral deep down the center of the field. Hernandez had an initial first step on Cole, but the flawless throw fooled the cornerback, who took a misstep that created just enough separation for Hernandez to make the grab and head downfield. Brady stung the ball through what was a extremely small window and brought raucous applause from the Patriots faithful.

DONT’A HIGHTOWER WANTS TO EARN THE VETERANS’ RESPECT

The 25th overall pick was in only his second day of NFL training camp, but Hightower is looking to earn the respect of the guys who’ve been there before.

“All those guys in the front of me that have played here and had so much success, right now I’m just trying to do what I can so I can learn from those guys,” the rookie said. “And get as much respect from them as a I can.”

He later added: “I’m going to do what I can and whatever they ask me to do. Whether it’s kicking or holding the snap or whatever I do. I’m going to do what I can to get on the field.”

STEVAN RIDLEY GETS FIRST-TEAM REPS

Though the situation at running back hasn’t been clearly defined, Ridley has been the primary back used with the first team. While Ridley took most of the snaps as the No. 1 back, Danny Woodhead also got plenty of reps in his usual situational, third-down role. With the Patriots being primarily a pass-first team, most of the plays were of the play-action variety.

Shane Vereen, who looks like Ridley’s only competition for the starting role, did get snaps with the first team later in practice and was used more in the receiving game. He caught a beautiful pass from Brady on an out-of-the-backfield route after getting past Gregory.

STALLWORTH TAKES A LEADERSHIP ROLE

The wideout has undergone a maturation process since the last time we saw him in a Patriots jersey in 2007. The 31-year-old is trying to become a mentor for the younger guys on the team.

“I just try to go out and help out the young guys as much as I can because I was once that guy,” he said. “Anything that I see from the younger guys that they might not notice that they’re doing, I try to pull them to the side and tell them some things here and there. Mainly I just try to do things that I’ve learned throughout my career.”

KRAFT, WELKER HAVE A CHAT

The star wideout has been the center of attention lately because of his contract situation. He signed the $9.5 million franchise tender in May but was seeking a long-term deal with the team that never materialized.

He was seen talking with Patriots owner Robert Kraft between a few wide receiver drills for about five minutes. The talk didn’t look serious, as the two exchanged some laughs and smiles while Kraft stood on the sideline and watched the early part of practice. Looks like there’s no hard feelings, at least from far away.

NEWLY SIGNED WEEMS PRACTICES

The newest member of the Patriots wasted no time getting acclimated with his new club. After signing early Friday morning, Darrion Weems donned No. 74 and worked right in with the offensive linemen.

Read More: 2012 Training Camp, donte stallworth, Marquice Cole, Stevan Ridley
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