FOXBOROUGH – The Patriots were in full pads for their season-ticket-holder practice inside Gillette Stadium tonight (6:30-8:30). Referees worked the practice.
Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite was one injured player who retuned to practice. He wore a red, non-contact jersey. On the flip side, cornerback Terrence Wheatley wasn’t spotted during 11-on-11 work.
Here are a few observations from the session:
1) Walter second in QB reps. In 11 on 11 work, quarterback Tom Brady was first to lead the offense, followed by Andrew Walter. Second-year man Kevin O’Connell was the third man in. When the Patriots acquired Walter, the feeling was that he could push O’Connell for the No. 2 job, but would most likely be slotted at No. 3. At this time, the Patriots appear to be giving Walter plenty of reps so he can learn the offense.
2) Plenty of wedge work. As expected, the Patriots devoted a good portion of the practice to special teams, specifically the kickoff return game. With the NFL rules changing this year – and teams no longer allowed to have wedges of three or more players – the Patriots worked on that aspect of the game under the watch of the officials.
3) Tom Brady picked off. Decision-making and accuracy are two hallmarks of Tom Brady’s game, but he was a bit off the mark at one point in 11 on 11 situational work, forcing a pass down the middle to Wes Welker. On the play, Welker was well covered, and safety Brandon Meriweather was the second man in, breaking on the ball for an easy interception. There appeared to be a miscommunication between Brady and Welker. Brady, who still looks like he’s getting comfortable in the pocket against a live rush, was one of the leaders in post-practice sprints.
4) Rob Ninkovich quick off the edge. In 11 on 11 work, outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich showed up with a few solid rushes – one time beating Nick Kaczur and another racing past Sebastian Vollmer. At 6-foot-2, 255 pounds Ninkovich doesn’t have the height the Patriots generally prefer at outside linebacker, but his quickness was noticeable tonight.