Harrison off PUP and other Patriot musings

July, 29, 2008
7/29/08
8:36
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The evening session was much more exciting than the morning walkthrough, especially if you enjoy passing drills.

But before we get into a few observations, safety Rodney Harrison came off the PUP list and practiced for the first time in camp. The Patriots were in full pads. He saw a lot of reps but looked a little winded.

  • After spending three days at Miami Dolphins camp, the disparity in talent was blatant. The Patriots are so skilled, the drills were like watching demonstrations.
  • This was my first look at backup QB Matt Cassel, and he was sharp. Camp observers has been impressive the whole time.

Cassel and Matt Gutierrez were the passers in a fun one-on-one drill, pitting the LBs against the RBs and TEs. They would line up about three yards apart. The receiver would run at the LB, make a move and try to get open. The offense dominated the LBs and completed every pass for more than half the drill.

The best throw and catch of the day was Cassel to Sam Aiken in the back of the end zone. CB Lewis Sanders had blanket coverage, but Cassel threaded the ball and Aiken made an acrobatic catch for a touchdown.

QB Tom Brady threw two interceptions (one was tipped). I smell a controversy.

  • Second-year safety Brandon Meriweather looks like he's on the ball. He didn't bite on a gadget play (sorry, but club policy prevents me from telling you what the trick was) and broke up a long pass to Jabar Gaffney.
  • Former safety Tank Williams continued to see reps as a first-team ILB. Listed at 6-foot-2, 223 pounds, he looks too big to be a DB (big upper body) and too small to be an LB (thin legs). Guard Logan Mankins pancaked him.
  • The Patriots didn't shrug off mistakes because it was training camp. A few profanities were audible. NFL officials were on the scene -- they're in each camp for three days to advise on new rules -- and players got in each others' faces whenever a flag was thrown. Brady yelled at one of the officials for not calling defensive delay of game for batting the ball after a whistle in a two-minute drill.

With one second left on the clock and the ball on the 10-yard line in the two-minute drill, Brady found WR Randy Moss in the back of the end zone. Moss seemed to have the ball firmly, but rookie CB Terrence Wheatley made a fantastic play and knocked it out of Moss' hands for an incompletion.

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