Tonight was the Patriots’ annual evening practice for season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents. It seemed to be well-attended, and it was a beautiful night.
It was the first time I’ve gotten a look at the new HD videoboard/scoreboard, and it is quite a sight. It is tough to tell from my BlackBerry pic, but fans will be impressed.
As for what happened on the field:
* The list of those not spotted was lengthy and included Wes Welker, though given the physical nature of the practice (and since it was on turf), it was likely a smart safety decision. Also missing were Matthew Slater, Jonathan Wilhite, Bret Lockett, Thomas Clayton, Terrence Johnson, Gary Guyton, Nick Kaczur, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, and Mike Wright.
* The offense had to run a penalty lap en masse fairly early on, and it is not known what the infraction was. But for those keeping track, the entire offense has had to run twice for mistakes, to zero times so far for the defense.
* The 11-on-11 work was very spirited, with a focus on two-minute and red zone situations. With the rush coming, Tom Brady found Aaron Hernandez on a screen, and Hernandez ran it into the end zone, past Darius Butler. Brady then found Randy Moss in his favorite spot: back of the end zone, under the goalposts. From four yards out, Brady found Rob Gronkowski in traffic, and the rookie made a nice catch for another would-be score. At one point when the offense stalled, Stephen Gostkowski came on to try a 52-yard field goal, but was just short.
* In two-minute work, Brady twice tried long passes to other receivers that didn’t pan out. On the third try, he went back to Moss, and it is clear they are as in synch as ever: Brady put a beautifully thrown ball down the right sideline, and Moss, with rookie Devin McCourty in coverage, pulled in the touchdown.
* The Patriots typically don’t let fans keep balls that go into the stands during camp sessions. After Hernandez’s touchdown, he threw the ball into the crowd, and a team ball boy immediately ran over and signaled for it to be thrown back, which the fan didn’t want to do. Security came and eventually the fan threw the ball back, as boos rained down from the area. But Robert Kraft got wind of the situation and walked over from the other side of the field, picked up a ball and lobbed it to the fan, drawing cheers.
New England will be back on the field tomorrow, with two practices scheduled – at 9:30 a.m. and 3:45 p.m.