FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots concluded their morning practice (9:30-11:15) in hot, muggy conditions.
Receiver Randy Moss is back to his routine of taking the morning practice off.
Here are some observations from the practice:
1) Run, run, run in the red zone. This was a practice with a heavy emphasis on the red zone, where the Patriots ranked 19th out of 32 teams in 2008 (65 possessions, 33 TDs). It was a chance for tight ends, running backs, and offensive linemen to assert themselves in the ground game. The backs have been running hard throughout camp, and Sammy Morris caught my eye today with his patience and then decisiveness when the hole opened. On the flip side, the Patriots’ linebacker crew is thin. On one play, inside linebacker Paris Lenon got sucked inside, opening a large hole for a surging Maroney to exploit for big yards in close. Maroney and Morris jumped in the air and touched bodies after the run. Right tackle Nick Kaczur had a couple of crunching blocks in the run game.
2) Brady and Galloway getting on the same page. Early in practice, quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Joey Galloway couldn’t connect on a route in the back right-hand corner of the end zone. After the play, Brady went over to Galloway to talk it over, and put his right hand up in the air, almost as if to suggest to Galloway to do that when he wants the ball. Later in the practice, the two made a connection in red zone work, albeit on a different type of route. Brady went out of his way to greet Galloway on the sideline with a high-five, in a sequence that reflected what training camp is often about – getting on the same page.
3) David Thomas making a move. With tight end Benjamin Watson remaining out of practice, it’s left the tight end reps to Chris Baker, Alex Smith, David Thomas and Tyson DeVree. In this practice, Thomas seemed to take advantage, delivering a few nice blocks. Early in practice, the tight ends were working alongside offensive tackles, hoping to seal the edge against linebackers and defensive backs. I saw Thomas plow over defensive back Herana-Daze Jones. After practice, Baker, Smith and Thomas drew large media crowds. At times during this practice, all three tight ends were on the field at the same time, highlighting how their versatility could help the club.
4) Brady & Koppen take a lap. The Patriots have a rule that has players taking a lap any time they make a mental mistake. When Dan Koppen and Brady couldn’t execute a center-quarterback exchange, they took off around the practice field. Left tackle Matt Light also had a lap, for a false start when lined up across from Pierre Woods in red-zone work.
5) Baker cooks up some extra work with Brady. After the session, Brady and tight end Chris Baker stayed for a few extra minutes, with Baker running routes. The eight-year veteran, who played the first seven years of his career with the Jets, explained that it was a chance to become familiar with each other. If the tight ends are going to be big factors in the red zone this season, they hope that type of work will pay off.