Seventy-eight players were present for the Patrots OTA at Gillette Stadium today, which was open to the media from 11:00-12:30. Here are a few reactions to the workout from some of the local media present, with links to their full blog entries to give a more complete picture of the practice.
At one point in practice, when the team was broken up into individual position groups, Brady and Moss worked together. The drill seemed to be chemistry based, with Brady reading Moss and delivering the ball out of his break. A coach stood in the end zone and acted as a defender, sometimes shading Moss to the outside, and other times to the inside, which dictated the direction in which Moss broke. This seemed to be a good example of how Brady and Moss sometimes make it look easy, but there is a lot of hard work they put in together to develop their impressive rapport.
Tom Brady was once again in action and I thought he looked a bit less rusty this time around. He showed nice zip on many of his short and intermediate throws. He seemed, not surprisingly, to throw the bulk of his balls to Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Overall I thought he looked a lot sharper than last week’s workout. He once again wore sweat pants for the practice, in all likelihood covering a knee brace on his surgically repaired left knee.
One play that stood out from Brady came in group work in the red zone. The quarterback pulled the ball down to run but then pulled up and hit Moss crossing the back of the end zone for the score. I don’t want to make too much out of it, but I thought Brady looked far more comfortable on Tuesday.
When watching these two one thing became apparent quickly: versatility. Both operated on the right and left sides, in the slot and Springs was occasionally seen along the backline of the secondary at safety. Most of their work took place on the far field so it was difficult at times to keep track of all the personnel groupings, but it didn’t appear that they were on the field together in any base sets. Generally, Jonathan Wilhite lined up on the opposite side any time either of them was in the lineup.
Given the level of play the Patriots have acquired in the secondary in recent years with the likes of Fernando Bryant, Jason Webster and Eric Warfield, Springs and Bodden appear to be light years ahead. Each has experience and versatility and should factor into the Patriots plans in a completely revamped secondary that — based on first impressions — looks to be much improved.
During 7-on-7 drills, newly signed LB Paris Lenon had himself stationed right next to linebackers coach Matt Patricia as he continues to learn everything he can about the Pats' 3-4 defensive system, which is a far cry from the Tampa-2 he played in Detroit the last couple of years. I was among those who spoke to Lenon after practice, and he's a really nice guy with a great story. He'll be our main story for tomorrow's Journal, though it will be posted online later today.
Christopher Price observed a difference in the usual special teams drills.
In punt return drills, the three return men — Kevin Faulk, Joey Galloway and Wes Welker — were all asked to hold on to at least ball (and occasionally two) while they were fielding another punt. (If you watched "Hard Knocks" with the Cowboys last year, think of the punt-catching drill the Cowboys used with Pacman Jones.) It’s a unique drill I can’t remember the Patriots using before — I’m thinking it was likely it was brought to New England by new special teams coach Scott O’Brien.
Karen Guregian catches up with Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour, who fielded questions about Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel and the future; and notes Vince Wilfork's absence could be an issue next Wednesday when mandatory mini-camp takes place.