Observations from Patriots OTAs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Observations and quick-hit thoughts from media access to the Patriots’ organized team activity this morning (10:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m.):

The football business is exploding. It’s May, players were in shorts and T-shirts, without helmets … and 46 media members were on hand to chronicle every move. Keeping things in proper context seems important here. A big part of this week’s organized team activities is getting younger players and those less experienced in the system up to speed.

Bill Belichick leading the defense. Following up on one large offseason storyline, head coach Bill Belichick spent most of the practice with the team’s defense. Similar to Sean Payton with the Saints’ offense, this was a practice in which it was clear that Belichick is taking more of a hands-on approach with that unit. Quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien led the offense when the team was split – the offense on one field, the defense on the other.

David Patten & Torry Holt lead the way. At one point in practice, a younger receiver was pulled out of a drill and Patten was told to take his place, showing him how it was done. There was a similar situation with Holt at another point in practice. As two of the most experienced players at the practice, Patten and Holt stood out from a learn-from-us standpoint.

Brandon Tate happy to be back. Second-year receiver Brandon Tate said he was excited to be back on the field after being limited to just two games in his rookie season because of two separate knee injuries. He has spent the entire offseason in Foxborough in the offseason program and has “done everything” with no restrictions. “This is my first step in a long process,” Tate said. “I’m out here trying to get the plays down pat and competing for a job.”

Brandon Spikes with Velcro hands. Rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes has a presence that stands out on the field. In one drill when the defense was broken down on one side of the field and looked to be working on pass coverage, he also made a terrific catch.

Heat a good preview for training camp. Although the tempo of practice was slow, players were still worked hard and you could see sweat soaking through their T-shirts as a result of the heat. “This is what you’re looking for because it will be like this in training camp,” third-year cornerback Terrence Wheatley said.