FOXBOROUGH -- Here are five observations/nuggets from this morning's rookie minicamp practice -- with players wearing shorts and no pads -- in the Dana-Farber Field House:
1) Mayo starts his work on the weak side. First-round draft choice Jerod Mayo got his initial work at the weakside inside linebacker spot in the 3-4 alignment. He was most often paired with sixth-round pick Bu Ruud, who was playing on the strongside, over the tight end. Mayo has the flexibility to play both the strong- and weakside spots. The weakside spot was held down by Tedy Bruschi for most of last season. When Rosevelt Colvin sustained a season-ending injury in late November, Bruschi moved to the strongside, with Junior Seau taking over on the weakside.
2) Tom Brady mentors rookies. After the session, linebacker Shawn Crable talked about how QB Tom Brady held court with some of the rookies in the training room before practice. Brady and Crable have a natural connection, as both attended Michigan, but Crable said it wasn't a Michigan-only type of setting. "He just got done working out and came in to speak to us," Crable said. "He just gave us some advice, things he has done over eight, nine years."
3) Eyes on the corners. A lot of football players look good in shorts and T-shirts, so it can be dangerous to look too much into one practice, but rookie cornerbacks Terrence Wheatley and Jonathan Wilhite both appear to be very quick. Wheatley, wearing Asante Samuel's old No. 22, primarily lined up at Samuel's old left cornerback spot. Wilhite was mostly on the right side, although when he switched to the left, he had an early-practice interception after showing nice explosion while breaking on a ball thrown in front of him.
4) Total players = 27. There were 27 players on hand, which were broken down this way: 7 draft picks, 11 free-agent signings and 9 players in for tryouts. All of the tryouts were on offense (8) and punter (1). A list of those tryout players is not currently available. Of the 27 players, 14 were on offense (Matthew Slater included here), 12 on defense, 1 was a punter.
5) Matthew Slater -- two-way talent. Fifth-round draft choice Matthew Slater began practice working with the receivers, and at one point, Bill Belichick pulled him aside and tutored him on route-running. At the end of practice, Slater donned a blue temporary jersey and was playing safety. He intercepted a tipped pass on the final play of practice. "It felt good to be able to do both," Slater said after the workout. "I feel like I'm in a blessed situation. I'm glad they've given me the opportunity to work on both sides of the ball. I have a lot to learn."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick is scheduled to hold a press conference at noon. After the press conference, the plan will be to go through any notes from practice and pass along any other items that seemed noteworthy.