FOXBOROUGH -- The Patriots held a passing camp practice today, and it included the same 36 players who were on the field Wednesday.
LB Victor Hobson (6th year), S Tank Williams (7th year) and TE David Thomas (3rd year) were the "headline" attendees among veterans. Bill Belichick explained to reporters after the practice that the three-day passing camp was designed to give repetitions to players who haven't played as much in the team's system.
Here are five observations from today's session, which was held in shorts (no pads) on the upper practice fields:
1) Multiple WR vs. multiple DB work. One of the primary purposes of the practice seemed to be introducing pass-catchers to the team's multiple-receiver packages, and in turn, defensive backs to the team's multiple-defensive back packages. The offense would work on one field, the defense on the other, then the two would come together. We spotted rookie CBs Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley with interceptions.
2) Victor Hobson runs better than advertised. Victor Hobson is making the transition from on-the-line OLB in the Jets' 3-4 defense to off-the-line ILB in the Patriots' 3-4 defense. In doing so, he will presumably be asked to run a bit more, and he appears to do so better than advertised. It's always dangerous to make judgments based on a late May passing camp without hitting, but the view from here is that Hobson is going to help the Patriots this season.
3) Junior Seau decision will be closer to training camp. In speaking with reporters after practice, Bill Belichick was asked if the possibility of Junior Seau's return was closer to reaching a resolution. "I'd say it would probably be closer to training camp than [early June's] mini-camp," he said.
4) Punter situation will not duplicate last year. Last season, the Patriots brought three punters to training camp (Josh Miller, Danny Baugher and Tom Malone) and Bill Belichick said at the time that the competition would be judged over a longer stretch of time, based on who was most consistent. The Patriots currently have three punters on their roster (Chris Hanson, Scott Player and Mike Dragosavich), but it's difficult to imagine a scenario in which all three will be at training camp. The reason is that NFL teams no longer have NFL Europa roster exemptions and are operating with a hard 80-player cap. That's why the next few weeks are especially important for Dragosavich, a rookie free agent, to show he's worthy of earning a coveted roster spot. From this vantage point, it is difficult to determine how well Dragosavich is doing.
5) OLBs bring impressive length to the field. The casual observer at practice can't help but take notice of the physical presence of OLBs Shawn Crable (6-5, 243) and Vince Redd (6-6, 260). While their true test will come when there is hitting and physical play, it is intriguing to consider the possibilities of what their sheer length could bring to the defense in terms of disruptive presences as pass rushers. They have long arms and long legs, and can make a passing lane seem quite narrow.