Let me preface these thoughts by saying I find it tough to concentrate on whats going on because usually so much IS going on, and generally not close to were I am watching. Also since early last camp I was trumpeting the great first week that Ron Brace was having, I think impressions made THIS early in camp can be misleading. That being said.... 1. I felt like a prophet when I saw McCourty line up at LCB opposite Boddin when the team went to the first 7-7 passing drill. The offense was in a spread, so the D was in a dime package with Sanders and Merriweather deep and Butler and Chung covering underneath. IIRC, Mayo was the ILB. Like I have said since the day he was drafted, The reason, IMHO, McCourty was drafted over Wilson was that his physicality which made him a better choice to become a legit edge CB. (Unfortunately, I think Wilson will excel as a slot CB as well) 2. Speaking of McCourty, while there were passes caught against him, I saw very little separation between him and the receiver every time. If I were coaching him, I'd have him working on improving his "playing the ball" when it gets there skills. Otherwise he looked very comfortable out there with the first D. 3. Butler also looked good in covering underneath, and in the work he did with the second unit on the outside. Clearly, at least IMO, the Pats got 2 very good CBs in the last 2 drafts....potentially. 4. Chung looked VERY quick and athletic, though he played underneath in a number of coverages not deep. Its way to early to speculate on who is first on the depth chart. I couldn't help but notice how more comfortable and instinctive he looked compared to last season. (and he had a nice one handed pick) 5. I find it ironic that the 2 LBs that impressed me the most are the 2 who are competing for the same position. I was concerned about Spikes slow times at his pro day, however I am a lot less now. I couldn't help notice that he has great anticipation. He always seemed to be the first guy to react to the play or when in pass coverage to the ball being released. In the small AOR of an ILB, that "anticipation" more than makes up for the 2-3 tenths of a second he didn't have in a 40 yd sprint. Like I've always said, in football its the acceleration, not the speed that counts. Also #44 stood out almost right from the beginning. McKenzie looked very quick and athletic. He also had good anticipation. I couldn't help wonder if he'd be better utilized on the outside, since there seems to be such a logjam at ILB; a position that is no longer a 4 down position as it is. Between Mayo, Guyton, Spikes, McKenzie, Alexander, etc, there seems to a lot of quality but not many snaps for many guys, especially if Mayo is getting the majority of them. 6. Again I hate to make first week impressions, but Aaron Hernandez looks like he is going to be a big part of the offense right from the start. He worked a lot as a slot receiver, and when the TE's and the RBs went to work on their passing game, vs the ILBs and some S's, Hernandez stayed with the WRs and worked with them. But what was most impressive for me was the fact that Brady threw him the ball quite a bit, like he was looking for him. 7. Those who have reported that Tate and Price were impressing.....weren't exaggerating. Those 2 look like definite keepers. They both worked with the first unit at times and never looked out of place. To me it was sort of like Branch and Givens part 2, though both are bigger than their older counterparts. 8. Nice to see Edelman finally listed as the 5'10 that he actually is. He is miles ahead of where he was last season (how could he not be). I have to say that he actually looked quicker than Welker on his routes. 9. Welker got the biggest cheers from the crowd, but it was clear that the Pats were being very careful with him. He participated fully in the individual groups, and 5-5 passing drills, but was very limited when they went to 7-7, and was on the sideline when they went to 11-11 at the end of practice. Still I find it amazing he's out there at all, so its all good right now, and it will be better in another month. 10. Tory Holt looked like he was trying to practice through some small muscle pull. He ran, IMO under control, rather than at full speed. I wouldn't be surprised to see him given a day off soon. I like our WR situation right now 11. Interesting that the Pats when to a 4-3 in the passing portion of the 11-11, against the spread with Lewis and G Warren as the 2 DTs. 12. One of the things defenses have to do better in order to catch up with the passing offenses is to generate more pressure up the middle. Pressure up the middle is felt immediately, while sometimes even an untouched Outside rusher will be late to the QB. I look for the Pats to do more this season trying to create more inside pressure. I expect EVERY team to be looking to do that. 13. I was pretty much unconcerned about the Mankins situation, since I thought, while Kazcur would be a downgrade at the position, I thought it would a slight downgrade. Kazcur has been a decent NFL OLman for 4 years and moving inside would actually limit one of his weaknesses. HOWEVER - in a conversation with Mike Reiss, Tedy Bruschi pointed out a couple of things that have made me more concerned. He noted that tall T's with long arms are an advantage on the outside, they can be a disadvantage on the inside. Bruschi mentioned he could always get better leverage against tall tackles. Plus pulling in traffic and techniques like cutting off the NT are not easy to master. I am now officially more concerned and hope Mankins can be gotten into camp in the next couple of weeks. That being said, Ryan Wendell was working with the first OL group this afternoon. 14. I was concerned slightly that I didn't notice JCunningham at all. If he played nothing he did stood out, though there wouldn't be much of an opportunity in this practice. In conclusion, I was impressed with our Receivers and DBs. The rest are just vague observations.