Patriots rookies Darius Butler, left, and Patrick Chung look on from the sidelines. (AP)
FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots held their sixth overall practice of training camp this afternoon (3:45-5:15) and were once again in full pads.
Receiver Randy Moss continued his pattern of resting for the morning practice and participating in the afternoon session. He delighted the crowd by staying late and signing autographs. The Patriots reported that more than 10,000 fans were in attendance today over both sessions:
Here are a few observations that stood out from the practice:
1) Jerod Mayo is on another level. One of the highlights of practice was the one-on-one running backs-on-linebackers drill in pass protection. Inside linebackers Jerod Mayo, Gary Guyton and Paris Lenon surged up the middle as running backs Fred Taylor, Kevin Faulk, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis were the blockers. At one point, Mayo ran over Green-Ellis. He later showed his speed by racing around one of the backs. Earlier today, he lowered his shoulder pad and knocked Morris to the turf. He looks like one of the most impressive defenders on the field.
2) Brady and Moss – one on one near the end zone. At one point in practice, when the Patriots were working on the kickoff return drill, quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Randy Moss went to the other field and worked one-on-one from inside the 10-yard line. Moss is a dangerous red-zone weapon, and he ran routes into the end zone working to get on the same page as Brady.
3) Opportunity knocks for Sebastian Vollmer. Second-round draft choice Sebastian Vollmer stepped in at left tackle with Matt Light having the practice off. At 6-foot-8, 315 pounds, Vollmer is a towering presence and he seems to be holding his own with his extended opportunity.
4) Coach-to-player communication on the agenda. Toward the end of practice, the Patriots split their offense onto one sideline, and their defense onto the other. Players then came onto the field for 11-on-11 work, at about three-quarters speed, as if they were entering a regular game. This was a drill in which the Patriots worked on hand signals, as defensive coordinator Dean Pees was seen signaling in the play-call.
5) Sixth practice needed a spark. The practice itself didn’t have the crispness of some of the other sessions, and a fellow media member made the point as he left the media tent that perhaps the Patriots have officially arrived in the dog days of camp.