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Rookie camp Practice 1 impressions

Posted by Albert Breer  April 30, 2010 12:53 PM

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spikes2.jpgHere are five things to remember from this morning's session (or four, plus one from the press conference. Per the rules, all the drills are non-contact. And the work is largely instructional. We'll start with this ...

1) Belichick responds: Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about concerns over Aaron Hernandez's positive drug tests at Florida. His answer came in generalities: "“Well, everybody that’s here, we feel can help our football team. That’s why they’re on the field.”"

2) Spikes' impact: The rookie most certainly has a swagger to him, and it's easy to see how he became the defense's Tim Tebow, so to speak, at Florida. He lined up at the "Mike" position (SILB) during practice, which is how most people envisioning him ... Playing the old Ted Johnson role, and eating up blocks, to clear the way Jerod Mayo to get to the ball. Also worth noting that Dane Fletcher, a college end, repped some at the "Jack" (WILB) spot.

3) The tight end dyanamic: The Patriots' two draft picks at tight end -- Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez -- were working with quality-control assistant Brian Ferentz, who appears to be (as expected) their position coach. Gronkowski worked almost exclusively as the in-line tight end, while Hernandez was the move guy, lining up wide, in the slot, at H-back and at fullback, and showing fluidity in his routes and catching the ball.

4) Kicking it: The best way to describe punters David King and Zoltan Mesko is probably "uneven." There were shanks. There were short punts. But there were also booming kicks ... One from Mesko went 70 yards. Consistency will be key with both the Aussie and Hungarian draft pick.

5) McCourty's versatility: Perhaps the biggest thing we saw out there from first-round pick Devin McCourty was his presence as a punt returner. As good of a special teamer as he is, he returned just five punts as a collegian, working more on kickoffs. Also another piece of versatility here: Third-round WR Taylor Price went into some group work with the DBs during a special teams period, and while most of that was just agility work, he was the only receiver over there.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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