FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots held their morning practice in full pads (9:30-11:15), with the session getting off to a different type of start as Mike Shanahan briefly addressed the players.
Here are a few observations from the practice:
1) Eyes on Andrew Walter. This was the first practice for newly signed quarterback Andrew Walter and the first thing that stands out is his size. At 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, he looks like a basketball player. Walter rotated in for some reps behind Tom Brady. From my view, I thought he had the third-most reps of practice, behind Tom Brady and Brian Hoyer. Second-stringer Kevin O’Connell has had reduced reps of late. In one drill early in practice, receivers worked one-on-one against defensive backs on routes into the end zone, and Walter connected with former Raiders teammate Randy Moss in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Yet on the next rep, Walter was picked off by Terrence Wheatley on a delivery under the goal posts. Walter, who seemed to develop some early chemistry with tight end David Thomas, did not speak to reporters after practice.
2) Offense is fired up at end of practice. The practice ended with a lot of energy, as Bill Belichick gave the offense and defense some added motivation. With the ball at what looked like the 5 yard line, the offense had one chance to punch it in. If the offense scored, the defense had to run a lap. If the defense stopped them, the offense had to run a lap. With rookie quarterback Brian Hoyer at the controls, he found Joey Galloway at the goal-line, after Galloway ran at Jerod Mayo and then cut to his right where the throw was delivered on time. Hoyer sprinted up to Galloway to celebrate and the offense was really ribbing the defense, led by Tom Brady.
3) Edelman finds his groove on punt returns. Early in training camp, rookie receiver Julian Edelman struggled catching punts. Today, he showed the strides that he has made in that area, working almost exclusively in that area. He didn’t drop one punt, some of which were challenging with cover-men converging on him quickly. There was one time that Edelman called for a fair catch inside the 5, and in a game, he might have been better letting it bounce (presumably, however, he was instructed to catch all the punts for practice). The Patriots worked quite a bit with their punt team, with Belichick calling for situational work in the back of the end zone at one point.
4) Situational football on the agenda. Patriots coach Bill Belichick often stresses the importance of situational football, as he wants the players to be prepared for the variety of things that can happen in a game. Today, he called out different situations and had the offense and defense react to what he called out. There was also a good teaching moment when a pass was fired in the direction of offensive tackle Matt Light and he dropped it. Bill Belichick quickly approached Light to presumably go over what he should do in situations like that in the future.
EXTRA POINT: The weekly Patriots mailbag will be posted on Boston.com within the hour.