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 continue answering 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:
I'd be interested to see if Tank Williams is lining up at ILB or safety and what group he is working out with. Also, what players get reps on return teams?
When the Patriots broke down into individual positions, Williams was with the linebackers. I never saw him with the safeties as he was playing closer to the line of scrimmage. On the return teams, Laurence Maroney/Matthew Slater, Darius Butler/Terrence Wheatley and Julian Edelman/Terrence Nunn were the kickoff return combinations, while Joey Galloway/Wes Welker/Kevin Faulk were the punt returners.
I'd be interested to see if Paris Lenon is more involved this time. You reported that last time he was mostly watching with linebackers coach Matt Patricia and getting a feel for things. Is he participating this time? If so, how does he look? Mostly in position?
Lenon seemed to be more involved this time around, which makes sense since the practice from last week was held the day after he signed. I couldnít get a great feel for how he looked, but did spend some time talking with him after practice and came away thinking that his body type was sturdy enough to play in this scheme, and I assumed that was probably what the Patriots were thinking when they signed him over Pisa Tinoisamoa. Still, my general feeling is that any player in the front seven on defense is going to be tougher to evaluate in these practices because there is no contact.
I think keeping an eye out for mistakes. Whether it's a unit that has to repeat a play or an individual player who needs to be corrected. It seems most people look good out there, but the important thing is they are understanding what they are taught and applying it correctly on the field.
My feeling is that players are going to make mistakes in a May or June practice, because no team is hitting on all cylinders at this point. So with that context in mind, I saw Fred Taylor and Laurence Maroney drop a pass or two, quarterback Matt Gutierrez bobble a snap, center Dan Koppen fire a low shotgun snap, Joey Galloway drop a punt with a football already in his grasp, and Tom Brady under-throw Randy Moss and get picked off by Darius Butler. Overall, though, I didnít get the sense that players were having trouble processing what they were being taught and applying it on the field.
I'm really interested to know how Laurence Maroney is looking at this point. I feel like at the start of every season he talks about how great he feels and how he's ready to make the leap (last season he threw out the 'I'm in the best shape of my life' quote which is usually reserved for older vets, not someone in their early 20s) and this season is no different. Does he look strong, quick, and decisive? If he could reach his potential (glimpses in his rookie season and in 2007, especially in the open field) this offense could be downright scary.
I donít see anything that stands out in that regard with Maroney right now, but that doesnít mean it canít happen. There was one segment of practice where the running game seemed to be the main focus, but I donít remember anything standing out. The notes I jotted down with the backs came in the passing game, as that seemed to be more of the focus of the practice Ė the quarterbacks and backs getting on the same page with some short routes out of the backfield. Maroney still seemed to be getting comfortable with that from my view.
Of the group of Crable, Redd, and Woods, who's getting first-team reps at outside linebacker, and how are they looking? Also, how's Adalius Thomas, Gary Guyton and Antonio Appleby looking?
Woods was the first man up at outside linebacker. I spoke with him after practice along with other reporters and one thing struck me: his confidence. He seemed like a man on a mission and very comfortable with himself given his opportunity. He is currently at around 258 pounds and looked chiseled to me, more so than I remember last year, which should help him withstand the pounding of playing that position over the longer haul. I think heíd be the starter right now. Crable was the next man in, and I didnít see much from Redd in terms of being in that rotation. Thomas looked solid, while Guyton got a lot of run with Jerod Mayo not practicing, and he looks comfortable. Nothing from Appleby stood out to me.
I'm thinking Joey Galloway and Greg Lewis are great additions, how fast are these two guys in your opinion?
Galloway can really move and appears to still have some suddenness and smoothness coming out of his breaks. Lewis looks like more of a longer strider. With the receivers, I think itís important to note that there is no contact, so they are getting free releases off the line of scrimmage. It could look different once the pads come on.