FOXBOROUGH -- On Tuesday, the question was asked "What would you be watching for if you were at Patriots practice?"
I mentioned that I would peruse the comments section and then report back. My plan is to answer these in bunches of touchdowns (6 apiece) over the coming days, possibly stretching into the weekend (I edited some down that were similar to other entries):
The Patriots ask reporters the courtesy of following these guidelines:
Observe the obvious. How does Brady look? How do the LBs look?
I thought Brady looked like the standard No. 12. As for the LBs, it looked to me like the top three outside linebackers have been Adalius Thomas, Pierre Woods and Shawn Crable. Tough to assess much without pads and contact at that position. From a pure physical standpoint, Woods looked more impressive to me than I remember him from last year. At inside linebacker, the Patriots are a bit thin with Jerod Mayo not practicing. I saw Tedy Bruschi, Gary Guyton, Eric Alexander and Paris Lenon all take reps. Lenon, by the way, said he's about 238 pounds at this time. The Lions had him around 230 last season and apparently his size was a concern that some teams had in their discussions with him. But his body type looks big enough to play in the Patriots' scheme.
How does Galloway look? Does Belichick spend most of his time with the rookies/new players?
Galloway looks fast, and he's usually the first man in along with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Belichick spends time with everyone, it seems, but I noticed that the majority of his time is with the defense, and often the linebackers.
Can you take a closer look at Patrick Chung for me. He was billed as a versatile performer who can fill many roles as well as being a natural leader. Which positions is he lining up? How vocal is he?
Chung was part of the regular safety rotation. Here is a comment from fellow safety James Sanders: "Patrick is a good young player. He’s coming eager to learn. He’s in his [play]book each and every day, writing notes. Me, him and Brandon [Meriweather], we all sit in the same row, right next to each other. We constantly are talking, communicating, making sure that all three of us are on the same page so that when we do get out together, we don’t miss a beat.”
Maybe you could report on how Shawn Crable is doing out there, when does he take the field with what positional grouping, how does he look etc. IMO, this guy needs to come up big this year with or without the acquisition of another vet to shore up the OLB position.
It is difficult to take a lot from a player at Crable's position, because there is no contact. But he's definitely out there and in a more prominent role than last year. He's mostly lined up on the right side. I think the true test will come in training camp and preseason games when there is more banging. I'd also just add that Pierre Woods could surprise some people. Here was a comment from Tedy Bruschi on Woods: “I see the development of Pierre Woods. He’s getting better. From when he came here, his first day here, to where he is now he’s a much better player. He’s got to improve even more."
If I were going to watch them practice, at this point I'd be looking at decisiveness and good hands.
There was plenty of that on the field. It starts with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Also, tight end Tyson DeVree made the good-hands play of the day by reaching up and snaring a laser from Kevin O'Connell while tapping his toes in the field of play in the back of the end zone.
Lots of interest in what you see in the defensive personnel. In particular CBs and LBs. Is Shawn Crable lining up with the 1's? With Bodden, Springs, Wheatley, Wilhite, etc., how are they doing covering the WRs?; Darius Butler in the slot - can he stick with Welker?; Inside LBs - Lenon and Appleby insights.
They didn't run much base defense, mostly working sub packages. But right now, I'd put Crable as the No. 3 option behind Adalius Thomas and Pierre Woods. I think the corners have been competitive in coverage. That group looks better to me than last year. I did not see Butler in the slot, mostly Jonathan Wilhite. At inside linebacker, Lenon worked into the mix a bit more than last week. I didn't see much from Appleby.