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Patriots Notebook

No snap decision at No. 2

Walter, O’Connell in job competition

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By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / August 5, 2009

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FOXBOROUGH - You know training camp is off to an uneventful start when after six days the biggest controversy revolves around backup quarterbacks.

Tom Brady is healthy and entrenched as the starter, but there is some intrigue regarding who will be Brady’s backup, as the Patriots brought in veteran Andrew Walter to compete with second-year signal caller Kevin O’Connell.

Signed Monday, Walter, wearing No. 16 (wide receiver Shun White switched to No. 15), practiced for the first time with the team yesterday. The former Raider, who is entering his fifth NFL season, displayed a strong arm.

The 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound Walter was released by the Raiders July 30, after four seasons and nine career starts. He started eight games for Oakland in 2006 and played with Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss in 2005 and 2006 in Oakland.

Walter showed that he remembered how to throw to Moss when he hit him with a back-shoulder throw in the end zone during cornerback-wide receiver one-on-one drills.

O’Connell, the incumbent backup, welcomed Walter, saying he could already tell it’s going to be good working with him.

“I don’t feel threatened,’’ said O’Connell. “It’s just a competition thing. I’m going to compete and see where that takes me. It’s just a matter of doing the best I can and continuing to learn and grow as a young player and do whatever I can to be successful.’’

Walter, who declined to speak with reporters, may be a greater threat to undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer, who might be ticketed eventually for the practice squad, than O’Connell.

O’Connell said he wasn’t putting much stock in the decreased repetitions he’s gotten the last two days.

“I think it’s just kind of the rotation of the way they’re doing it,’’ O’Connell said. “It’s four quarterbacks right now and there are obviously only so many reps to go around and obviously Tom is going to be taking a lot of them. I don’t read much into it. I just prepare to come out and practice. Whatever reps I’m going to do the best I can.’’

Carter country?
The Patriots have expressed interest in veteran defensive end Kevin Carter, who was scheduled to make a visit to Foxborough yesterday.

Carter’s agent, Harold Lewis, said there has been mutual interest since the draft, but that three or four other teams have also expressed interest in the 35-year-old Carter, who has 104.5 career sacks, ranking him second among active players behind Jason Taylor.

Carter spent the last two seasons in Tampa Bay. One of his ex-teammates there, Patriots tight end Alex Smith, said Carter would be a fit in Foxborough.

“He works hard,’’ said Smith. “He is a great leader. I think that’s some of the things they really stress on this team, so I think he wouldn’t have a problem fitting in at all.’’

Smith said he talked to Carter during the offseason and Carter told him he was waiting for the right opportunity. Smith believes Carter, a 14-year veteran, has plenty of football left in him.

“He’s a great player,’’ said Smith. “It’s one of those things, just to see him in person, he’s a gigantic man. That’s the first thing you think about when you see him, his intimidating presence. Hard worker off the field, great guy on the field. You definitely wouldn’t know he has been playing for so long. He is still full of energy, full of strength.’’

Defense is on the run
Hoyer was the hero of camp yesterday, completing a pass in the end zone to Joey Galloway during situational work to end the first practice and force the defense to run laps.

Brady and Moss gleefully heckled the defensive players as they ran. Belichick set up both practices, so whichever unit won the final play would be spared from running.

“That’s the competitive stuff that helps keep camp interesting every day and helps people have a good time,’’ said O’Connell.

Hoyer has gotten more snaps in practice the last couple of days, and the hands-on experience is helping his learning curve.

“There is no experience like actually running the play,’’ said Hoyer. “You can run the play, go back and watch it on film and see like, ‘Oh, go here next time or you have to make this check-down.’ I think that’s been very helpful in helping me progress in this system.’’

Mission statement
Laurence Maroney has looked like a man on a mission after missing most of last season with what he said was a broken bone in his shoulder. Some have pegged this as a make-or-break year for Maroney, who is entering his fourth season, but the gregarious running back bristled at the notion he has something to prove. “Everybody feels like I have something to prove, but I feel like I don’t,’’ he said. “I feel like I just have to go out there and play my game. The coaches and the rest of the team know what I can do and how I can help the team, it’s just going out there and doing it.’’

Respectable showing
Former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was on the field at both practices. According to Hoyer, Belichick told the team that Shanahan, who was fired by the Broncos during the offseason and replaced by former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, was there because of the mutual respect between the two coaches . . . For the first time since camp opened last Thursday, Moss participated in both practice sessions . . . Belichick was not pleased with his team’s execution in the second practice, as he sent both the punt team and the offense on punishment laps.

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