Hereís a rundown on what went on at Patriotsí practice this afternoon:
- Unsigned draft picks: OT Nate Solder, RB Shane Vereen, CB Ras-I Dowling.
- Veteran free agents that canít practice until Aug. 4: CB Kyle Arrington (exclusive rights), RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (restricted), G Logan Mankins (franchise), RB Sammy Morris (unrestricted).
- Physically unable to perform list: DL Ron Brace, DL Brandon Deaderick, TE Aaron Hernandez, DL Myron Pryor.
- Non-football injury list: OL Mike Berry, S James Sanders.
- Returned to practice: LB Brandon Spikes, who did not finish practice yesterday.
- Spikes. He cramped up again at the end of practice. S Josh Barrett sat out for a minutes but returned.
- It appears that LS Matt Katula has some sort of injury. He has yet to do much of anything in practice.
Players were in helmets, shells and shorts. Well, everyone but Ochocinco and Katula.
TOP OF THE NEWS
- WR Chad Ochocinco was on the field wearing No. 85. TE Aaron Hernandez, while in the warm-up group, was wearing shorts with No. 81 (his college number). Not confirmed yet but Iím hearing Hernandez asked for nothing in return, and just gave Ochocinco the number to welcome him to the team.
- Ochocinco was not wearing shells, strangely, yet he still competed in most team drills. He looked fine. Dropped a couple passes, but caught most of them. Ochocinco was obviously feeling his way through the offense, talking to coaches and at one point Tom Brady gave him some instruction.
- QB Ryan Mallett practiced for the first time and threw a lot of checkdowns but did show off his big arm on a few occasions. He definitely needs some work with his feet, and his motion tends to get a little long at times. Mallett nicely stepped up into the pocket facing a rush and rifled a pass to the right sideline for a completion. Then on the next pass he was almost picked off by ILB Jeff Tarpinian.
- OL Marcus Cannon was signed and on the field observing.
- Taylor Price beat zone coverage and came back for a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jonathan Crompton. Price caught it on the ground, and it may have been reviewed in a game. But weíll give it to him.
- WR Matthew Slater made a nice adjustment on a deep pass from Brian Hoyer that lost CB Thad Turner and ended up as a 50-yard touchdown down the right side.
- TE Lee Smith stuck his big mitt out to make a suave one-handed catch. Made it look easy.
- Ochocinco and Brady hooked up on a 25-yard post where the receiver went up into the air over Darius Butler to snag it before falling down. Nice catch.
ODDS AND ENDS
- All four quarterbacks were a combined 15 of 16 in the 7-on-7, no-huddle period. The only miss was between Brady and Ochocinco on an out, when Ochocinco dropped the ball while he tried to toe-tap the sidelines.
- Again a very high percentage of passes were caught. Not many passes hit the ground.
- Barrett continued to get some action at OLB.
- Jerod Mayo got the defense into a huddle after the 7-on-7 period.
- Safeties coach/de facto defensive coordinator Matt Patricia got after his troops on several occasions.
- After a shaky practice yesterday, Hoyer was much more accurate today.
- Butler, who has been manning the nickel back position, had two pass breakups for the second-straight day. Leigh Bodden had one as well, possibly after a push in the back.
- LB Gary Guyton was back on the inside most of practice.
- The Patriots continue to play around with the versatility of DE Eric Moore.
- Welker and Brandon Meriweather talked some trash after Welker thought Meriweather held him coming across the middle.
- Safety Sergio Brown had an interception when Crompton underthrew Buddy Farnham on a deep out.
- Darnell Jenkins had a couple of nice catches from Crompton in the final period, including one leaping reception.
- Brady and Deion Branch continue to make it look easy on their patented out routes.
- In a special teams drill that works on down-field tackling, Brandon Tate really juked Mayo and Marques Murrell. Price got Guyton.
- Julian Edelman, Tate, Price and Jeremy Ross alternated on punt returns.
- Crompton underthrew a pass that was nearly intercepted by Rob Ninkovich.
- Tate made a nice route adjustment to get free from defenders on a pass from Hoyer.
- TE Rob Gronkowski has caught everything thrown to him, though most havenít had a high degree of difficulty. But he did have a very nice leaping grab in the seam.
- Zoltan Mesko had a strong initial punting period with six kicks that average 4.46 seconds of hangtime. He had a low of 3.97 and a high of 4.82. In the second period, he averaged 4.19. His first punt that period was short and only had a hang time of 3.43
- Once again Ninkovich served as the long snapper and only about half were on target.
- K Chris Koepplin got the field goal period today and he made his first four, and then missed his final three kicks. He hit the left goalpost from 42, was partially blocked on a low kick from 45, and then was wide left from 48.
- Saturday's practice: 8:30-11 a.m.