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Day 12, first Patriots practice
Posted by Mike Reiss, Globe Staff
August 10, 2009 12:35 PM
FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots concluded their morning practice in hot, humid conditions (9:30-11:30) as they transitioned into some game-planning for the preseason opener against the Eagles.
The session was highlighted by the return of more players who had been sidelined by injuries. It also seemed like the lightest crowd attendance since camp started, with plenty of seats in both the bleachers and on the hillside to be had.
Here were some observations from the session:
1) Stephen Neal and the guard spot. With rookie guard/center Rich Ohrnberger coming off the PUP list, I spent a good part of this practice watching the team’s interior linemen. I also went back to check my notes on starting right guard Stephen Neal and noticed that he’s on a limited practice schedule (by my count, he’s participated in 8 of 16 non-walkthrough practices). With Neal’s health being managed, it shines a spotlight on the competition for top backup with Ohrnberger, Russ Hochstein, Billy Yates, Dan Connolly and Ryan Wendell in the mix. Neal did not practice this morning, and it was Wendell -- a little-known first-year player from Fresno State -- who got the most work.
2) Shotgun snapping especially crucial. With more attention placed on the interior offensive linemen, this thought crossed the mind: If you play center for the Patriots, you better be able to shotgun snap. The Patriots live out of the shotgun and Dan Connolly, a fourth-year player who spent time last season on the practice squad before being activated to the roster in December as a backup, really struggled with this in one-on-one blocking drills by twice airmailing a shotgun snap.
The Patriots have wrapped their 19th training camp session, the 14th held in full pads, and it was a hot, steamy morning.
By everything I've read thus far in terms of camp reports from around the league, Bill Belichick is certainly holding one of the toughest camps in terms of physical demands on the players.
That said, there were three players who returned to the field today -- TE Benjamin Watson, who had not practiced since July 31, and DL Le Kevin Smith, who had not practiced since Aug. 3 -- were back with their teammates and rookie OL Rich Ohrnberger practiced for the first time, as he was removed from the PUP list.
But...Shawn Crable was not spotted. The linebacker was removed from the PUP list on Sunday, and it was surprising that he was not on the field.
Others not in attendance: WR Joey Galloway, CB Shawn Springs, LB Paris Lenon, DL Jarvis Green, DL Mike Wright, LB Tedy Bruschi, G Stephen Neal, and OL Geroge Bussey. T Mark LeVoir is the only player still on PUP and rookie Brandon Tate remains on NFI.
Here and there on the field...
* Both Robert and Myra Kraft were on the field, with Robert taking in much of the session from the sidelines;
* Kickoff returners included Matthew Slater, Julian Edelman, Laurence Maroney, Terrence Nunn and Wes Welker;
* As 7-on-7 passing work went on on the other field, the offensive and defensive linemen did work, and top rookie Sebastian Vollmer had to run a penalty lap for an unknown infraction;
The Pats would. Let’s see what’s going on at the morning practice: – Tight end Benjamin Watson was back at practice after missing about a week. He needed to be, considering the competition at his crowded position. – LB Shawn Crable made his big return from the PUP yesterday, then wasn’t in the house today. So much for his claim to be healthy… (Bill Belichick didn’t seem to indicate there was a major problem. Wonder if he’ll be back out for the afternoon…) – The QBs adjusted to receiving the play calls in their helmets for the first time. Bill O’Brien, their position coach, had the walkie talkie. – Rookie WR Terrence Nunn made a ridiculous catch over the middle, diving while he was getting drilled by Pat Chung and Darius Butler. Not bad.
Another Monday morning, and another day of full pads for the Patriots, as the team suited up for its 19th practice this summer, under hazy skies and hot, humid temperatures.
Some good news on the injury front, as TE Benjamin Watson and DL Le Kevin Smith returned to action, and rookie OL Rich Ohrnberger, who had been on the PUP list, took the field for the first time this camp.
Coming off a Sunday evening practice that saw six players return to action after prolonged layoffs, one of them, OLB Shawn Crable, did not take part in the Monday morning session. He did speak to reporters Sunday after the workout, and he appeared in fine condition, so perhaps his absence is a designed move by the training staff to help him work his way back into playing shape.
Other players not out there to start this new week included WR Joey Galloway, CB Shawn Springs, LB Paris Lenon (who was seen leaving the field with a trainer during Sunday’s practice), LB Tedy Bruschi, OL Stephen Neal, OL George Bussey, DL Jarvis Green, and DL Mike Wright. Rookie WR Brandon Tate (NFI list)] and OL Mark LeVoir, the remaining player on PUP, were also absent.
* During a pass-rushing drill, in which outside linebackers took on tight ends, newcomer Derrick Burgess went up against Benjamin Watson, and it was no contest. Burgess locked onto Watson’s shoulder pads with both hands and threw the tight end to the ground. Later, against the offensive line in a similar drill, Burgess bull-rushed tackle Wesley Britt into the backfield. He had less success on his next attempt versus tackle Ryan O’Callaghan, who pancaked Burgess.
Wilhite working into action; Monday AM notes
By Andy Hart, Patriots Football Weekly
Jonathan Wilhite is making a strong run at earning a starting job in the new-look New England secondary.
Who’s Hot: Terrence Nunn. The first-year player is making a serious run at going from out of football to a roster spot on the best offense in the game. He’s caught the bulk of the balls thrown his way, continuing to show strong hands, nice route running and the type of desire you’d expect from a guy with his back story.
Who’s Not: Paris Lenon. The first-year Patriot has done little to stand out to this point in camp. Now, he’s both out of sight and mind as he missed Monday’s morning session with an undisclosed injury. A 100-tackle guy the last two seasons in Detroit, he’s losing precious reps at a point when he should be trying to fine-tune his game in a new system.
Play of the Day: Nunn didn’t have much room to work when he went up in the air Monday morning to snare a Brian Hoyer pass between the coverage of Darius Butler and Pat Chung. Chung put a decent hit on Nunn, but the upstart youngster displayed great body control to make the catch and hold onto the ball while falling to the turf
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