FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots held their afternoon practice in full pads (3:45-5:30), and once again, Mike Shanahan was present as a guest of Bill Belichick.
Here are a few observations from the practice:
1) Bill Belichick drives a hard bargain. If Bill Belichick was a jockey in a horse race, he would have been striking his whip repeatedly. He was hard on his team in this practice, sending an entire punt team, and later the entire offense, on a “punishment” lap. It appeared that Belichick, who called for a heavy emphasis on situational football in the session, was not happy with the concentration level and execution. Belichick wrapped up practice with a first-and-goal on the 6, with the losers running a lap. Tom Brady to Wes Welker in the end zone for the touchdown sent the defense on the lap. Brady, ever the competitor, pumped his fist in celebration.
2) And then there was Nunn. At one point midway through the session, it seemed as if a few in the crowd went through the same routine, looking down at their roster to answer the question: “Who is No. 10?” Little-known receiver Terrence Nunn had hauled in a long bomb down the left sideline from Tom Brady in 7 on 7 work, with cornerback Leigh Bodden the nearby defender. Earlier in practice, Nunn (6-0, 195) created separation in a drill that had multiple receivers working combination routes against defenders. A rookie free agent out of Nebraska, Nunn is accounting well for himself on the practice fields.
3) Bodden stride for stride with Galloway. In 11 on 11 situational work at the end of practice, Brady aired out a long bomb down the left side to Joey Galloway. As the 45-plus yard pass arced, cornerback Leigh Bodden stayed attached to Galloway’s hip and then made a nice play on the ball to knock it away in the end zone. For all the talk of Galloway’s speed, Bodden was right there with him, and also showed solid ball skills
4) Sideline communication – work for coaches as well. When the Patriots worked on situational football – with Belichick barking out the down and distance – players stood on the sideline and coached called for the substitution packages they wanted on the field. It appeared as if quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien was also radioing in the plays to his quarterbacks – first Tom Brady, then Brian Hoyer. This was a reminder that training camp situational football is not just for players; it’s a chance for coaches to fine-tune their own operation.