FOXBOROUGH – Five observations from the Patriots’ opening practice of training camp, which was held inside the Dana-Farber Field House in full pads:
1) Not a lot of throwing for Tom Brady. In what could be an approach to monitor throughout training camp, quarterback Tom Brady rested his arm for most of the session. Brady has spoken about this in recent years, taking a similar approach to a baseball pitcher who might be on a pitch count. The approach left the bulk of the down-field throws to Matt Cassel, Matt Gutierrez and Kevin O’Connell. As an example, in one part of practice, Brady went with the TEs/OLBs as the TEs worked on blocking after the snap. There was no throwing in the drill. Meanwhile, Cassel and Gutierrez worked with the receivers on down-field routes, while O’Connell was with the running backs, who were focusing on catching balls out of the backfield.
2) Sleek Richard Seymour. Defensive lineman Richard Seymour was one player whose physical condition caught the eye. After the practice, Seymour noted that he’s lost about 10 pounds, while adding that he feels good about the work – both physically and diet-wise – that he’s put in during the offseason. Seymour compared his work this offseason to the last two years, when he said due to an injured knee he could not fully work out, if at all. He looks sharp from a pure physical standpoint, but cautioned that doesn’t mean much if he doesn’t perform on the field.
3) Moving parts on the right side of the offensive line. With last year’s starters at right tackle (Nick Kaczur) and right guard (Stephen Neal) opening the year on the physically unable to perform list, the Patriots had a different look up front. Third-year man Wesley Britt lined up at Kaczur’s spot, while eight-year veteran Russ Hochstein occupied Neal’s position. The remainder of the offensive line from last year – left tackle Matt Light, left guard Logan Mankins and center Dan Koppen – remained intact.
4) Early look at the corner. With Asante Samuel now with the Eagles and Ellis Hobbs opening training camp on the PUP list, the Patriots took the field without both starting cornerbacks from 2007. Fernando Bryant and Jason Webster were the top corners in the practice. It's too early to read anything into the team's depth chart at this time; the Bryant-Webster pairing on Day 1 isn't all that surprising given their veteran status.
5) Focus on the fundamentals. As Bill Belichick noted in his press conference this morning, a major part of training camp is a focus on fundamentals. One example of this came when the players were broken down with their position coaches, and the quarterbacks were working on sliding in the pocket after dropping back to pass. When it was Matt Gutierrez’s turn, he brought the football down to his belt area, which drew the immediate attention of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Josh McDaniels, who reminded Gutierrez that the ball needed to remain up. It was a perfect snapshot of what training camp is all about.
More to come a bit later in the day.