Though it was a Monday morning session, there were still plenty of Patriots fans crowding the bleachers and hillside behind Gillette Stadium. The weather was about perfect – sunny and not too hot or humid …
* The Patriots announced via their Twitter feed before the session that it would be a condensed practice, but it didn’t turn out to be much shorter than usual, and players were in full pads.
* Not spotted on the field were Ty Warren, Nick Kaczur, Gary Guyton, Matthew Slater and Bret Lockett; observing but not participating were Mike Wright, Jonathan Wilhite, Ron Brace, Thomas Clayton, and Terrence Johnson.
* After being absent during yesterday’s afternoon session, Stephen Neal and Thomas Williams both returned and practiced.
* Today was time for the “slip-and-slide,” when rookies have to slide through a mud patch at the back corner of the field with Tom Brady giddily spraying them with a hose. Aaron Hernandez wasn’t too thrilled with the game — he didn’t dive into the mud his first time through, but did the second time. Tyrone McKenzie, who missed training camp last year due to his knee injury, took part, though Brandon Tate, who was in a similar position last year, hid behind the defensive linemen. Corwin Brown, the Pats rookie defensive backs coach, also took part.
– On the Wes Welker front, he appeared to participate fully, though New England did not do any 11-on-11 work this morning. There was quite a bit of 7-on-7, and he did take part in that.
– Hernandez had an up-and-down morning: during 7-on-7, he stumbled a bit coming out of a break and had to sort of dive for the ball. He made the catch but spent a minute gathering himself on the sideline before returning to the drill. He then dropped a pass, but redeemed himself during his next turn, making a one-handed, diving catch.
– This morning it was the running backs’ turn to sign post-practice autographs. They were joined by Bill Belichick.
The Patriots do have another practice today, but it is a ticketed event inside Gillette, open to season-ticket holders and Foxborough residents only.