FOXBOROUGH – Five observations from the Patriots’ organized team activity today at Gillette Stadium (11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.):
1) Tom Brady throws on the run. One play stood out from this session, and it came in 7-on-7 work, with the Patriots working inside the red zone. The ball was spotted at the 18-yard line. Brady was in the shotgun and as he surveyed his options, he didn’t see anyone open. So he started to run up the middle before re-loading and firing on the run to Randy Moss across the middle for a completion. The throw had good zip and was accurate. Plays like that seemingly would reflect the solid progress that Brady – who appeared to be more accurate in this practice than last week – is making. Once again wearing sweatpants that covered his knee brace, Brady did have one underthrown pass (intended for Moss) intercepted by rookie cornerback Darius Butler in the left-hand corner of the end zone.
2) Brady and Moss – 1 on 1 work. At one point in practice, when the team was broken up into individual position groups, Brady and Moss worked together. The drill seemed to be chemistry based, with Brady reading Moss and delivering the ball out of his break. A coach stood in the end zone and acted as a defender, sometimes shading Moss to the outside, and other times to the inside, which dictated the direction in which Moss broke. This seemed to be a good example of how Brady and Moss sometimes make it look easy, but there is a lot of hard work put in to develop their impressive rapport.
3) Punt returners have their hands full. As usual, the Patriots devoted a good portion of the practice to special teams. The punt return unit was in the spotlight today, and at one point, returners Joey Galloway, Wes Welker, and Kevin Faulk had a football tucked away while attempting to catch the arcing punts of Chris Hanson and Tom Malone. That’s a tough drill for the returners. The drill also highlighted “vice” work, the players who work against the opposing “gunners” on the outer edges of the field. I spotted Terrence Wheatley, James Sanders, Darius Butler, Antwain Spann, Patrick Chung, Greg Lewis, Leigh Bodden, and Jonathan Wilhite as vice men.
4) O’Connell to DeVree connection in end zone. In 7-on-7 work in the red zone, second-string quarterback Kevin O’Connell delivered one of the notable plays of the day, firing a laser to tight end Tyson DeVree, who reached up to snare the delivery while tapping his toes in the field of play along the back of the end zone. Similar to last week, O’Connell continues to work on his accuracy, but his arm strength is not a question. He can really zing it. Meanwhile, that was the type of catch by DeVree that gets a player noticed in a positive light.
5) Don’t forget about Jonathan Wilhite at corner. When breaking down the cornerback spot, veterans Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden currently project as the 1-2 punch. As for who is the No. 3 option, second-year man Jonathan Wilhite – a 2008 fourth-round draft choice -- shouldn’t be overlooked. When working with an extra defensive back today, Wilhite lined up alongside Spings and Bodden. The cornerback crop looks quite different from last year, with Springs, Bodden, Wilhite, and second-round picks Terrence Wheatley (2008) and Darius Butler (2009) the top five at this time.