What a terrific way to spend a summer morning, sitting on bleachers under a sunny sky, watching the Patriots practice and being surrounded by mobs of happy fans.
Summing up my feelings was a three-year old boy in a Brady jersey doing a hop-skip down to the field, holding his father's hand and singing "I love football" over and over, with dad smiling away at him. That's what it's all about folks.
Here are a few things that stood out to me as I watched the practice. Sometimes it's like a three or four ring circus out there though. While watching one group of players I'd hear the crowd cheer, which usually meant I missed a good play from the other end of the field - but that's why my son was with me, as a personal 'instant replay.' : )
- Today's emphasis was clearly on Special Teams, with players in groups of around six taking turns blocking punts. Chris Hanson would punt point-blank at a player who had to dive over it, block it, find it and pick it up. Belichick would sometimes have to stop and correct a player's technique, but they all looked good. The players were then moved back a bit further from Hanson to repeat the same drill.
- Special teams coach Scott O'Brien who is easy to spot, very animated during practice, and more limber than he looks punted alongside Hanson to a second of set of players for that same drill.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis running past a blocking pad at Gilette Stadium, with special teams coach Scott O'Brien visible behind him.
- At one point during some end-zone work, Bill Belichick would roll a large, heavy ball towards either Kevin O'Connell or Brian Hoyer after the snap while they were scrambling and looking for their open receivers. Neither got hit, but both had to move out of its way and it elicited a lot of laughs from the crowd. Andrew Walter was spared the extra challange when it was his turn in the rotation.
- Director of player personnel Nick Caserio has been actively working with the wide receivers during camp, very hands-on and demonstrative. A couple of people around me assumed he was the WR coach, but Chad O'Shea has that title. When the offense was shut down on the final play of practice, Caserio and the rest of the offensive coaching staff had to run a lap with the players.
- To be fair on that play Edelman was MAULED by Darius Butler, causing him to drop a well-thrown pass (I didn't see which QB threw it), and Butler should have had a pass-interference called against him.
- Walter overthrew Edelman a few times early in practice but connected with him later on. His passes all look strong and hard even on the long throws. No ducks, wobblers or indecisiveness (yet).
Sam Aiken had a terrific reception, from O'Connell I think, where he had to stretch himself out fully to make the catch and earning him some loud applause from the crowd. It will be interesting to see if he makes the roster.
P. S. The blond bomber (my lucky daughter) struck again with four autographs this time.