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Wrapping up Day 1 of camp

Posted by Albert Breer  July 29, 2010 05:28 PM

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Welkercamp.jpgDay 1 of camp is over, and we're off into football season. A few things to take you home before I start getting to work on some material for the old-fashioned product ...

* It's early, of course, but the young tight ends really shined in red-zone drills late in the afternoon practice. Aaron Hernandez went up over Patrick Chung to haul in a touchdown pass on a flat route, and Rob Gronkowski, just a couple plays later, bodied up a defender near the pylon. Both seem to have a pretty good idea of how to work in those short areas, which would be a godsend for an offense that had issues in tight spots last year.

* Hernandez continues to line up all over the place, and continues to look impressive athletically. He's smooth for a big guy, and has an idea of how to set up a defender with the ball in the air and position himself to get it. You can see a role emerging for him, detached from the line. It's clear the Patriots want him to play the Dallas Clark/Antonio Gates role ... Of course, it'll be much more difficult for him to be as good as those guys.

* Got some doubts about Torry Holt. While he still finds ways to get open, he lacks the burst to really separate from defenders. You have to wonder if, at game speed, that'll be a problem. It's one thing to make catches in a small hole in the coverage in practice. It's something else to do in a game, when those guys are coming harder at you.

* Brandon Spikes continues to get primetime reps, and continues to work on getting calls from the sideline and relaying them for the defense. It's hard to look at it any other way -- The Patriots have big plans for the kid. The problems for him seem to arise in coverage, which was the knock on him all along.

* Guys missing: Wes Welker, Darnell Jenkins, Sam Aiken, Ron Brace and the suddenly retiring Derrick Burgess (didn't feel like coming to camp?). Welker seemed to do less in the afternoon, from a training standpoint, than in the morning.

* Tom Brady, for what it's worth, hobnobbed a bit with owner Robert Kraft and some corporate types after practice for a little bit. Not sure if Brady was saying, "Pay me!!!" ... But it didn't look like it.

* One funny moment -- During one-on-ones early in the session, Kevin Faulk got jammed in the "hook" area by Jerod Mayo and couldn't get loose. A coach blew a whistle, and Faulk immediately barked at Mayo ... "Let me show you something right quick!!" Faulk then kicked a couple bags out of the way, and lit Mayo up on an angle route up the middle of the field.

* And to finish ... Brady's birthday has become a rite of training camp, and his 33rd is coming up on Tuesday. Lesser known: Pepper Johnson's birthday was today. To celebrate, the team sang to Pepper, and then Ty Warren gave him Gatorade bath, which is kind of funny because Johnson is one of the curators of that tradition, having been on the 1986 Giants team that originated it.
News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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