Patriots practice 17 observations

August, 14, 2011
8/14/11
4:22
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from Sunday afternoon's practice, the Patriots' 17th of training camp, which was held in full pads and in cloudy, drizzly conditions:

Connolly returns; Price & Edelman remain out. Offensive lineman Dan Connolly returned to practice on Sunday for the first time since last Monday. However, wide receiver Taylor Price was not spotted for the second straight session, while fellow wide receiver Julian Edelman was in a T-shirt and shorts for another practice. Running back Danny Woodhead returned to action after missing Saturday's practice due to the birth of his daughter.

Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian and offensive lineman Zach Roth were not spotted on the practice fields on Sunday; Tarpinian did not finish Saturday's session with an apparent leg injury, while Roth was carted off the field with an unknown ailment.

Haynesworth, Spikes remain out. Defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth again was not spotted at practice on Sunday, nor were linebacker Brandon Spikes or defensive lineman Mike Wright. Also not seen were cornerback Malcolm Williams, running back Eric Kettani, linebacker Christian Cox or offensive linemen Marcus Cannon (active/NFI) and Ryan Wendell. Besides Edelman, players in T-shirts and shorts doing rehab work were running backs Kevin Faulk (active/PUP) and Shane Vereen; wide receiver Brandon Tate; defensive linemen Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick and Shaun Ellis (all active/PUP); linebacker/safety Josh Barrett; cornerback Ras-I Dowling; and safety James Sanders.

Light's participation in focus. In his second day back at practice, offensive lineman Matt Light took part in individual and positional drills but not in full-team (11-on-11) action. Other than one rep where he was beaten by Andre Carter, Light looked impressive in 1-on-1 pass-rush drills, as did defensive linemen Myron Pryor, Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork. Meanwhile, offensive tackles Steve Maneri and Nate Solder struggled a bit in the 1-on-1 drills on Sunday.

Brady-to-Ocho connection gets work. There were two long passes from quarterback Tom Brady to wide receiver Chad Ochocinco during 11-on-11 work on Sunday. Both plays went for touchdowns, including an impressive diving effort by Ochocinco on one reception. These were the highlights of the day for the thin crowd. Wide receiver Wes Welker also got in on the action, fending off cornerbacks Devin McCourty and Leigh Bodden to come up with an underthrown pass from Brady intended for Deion Branch; in game action, Brady would have been sacked on the play, as Woodhead was tossed aside by blitzing linebacker Jerod Mayo.

Mallett continues to see increased reps. Rookie quarterback Ryan Mallett saw his fair share of action on Sunday afternoon, the second straight day he has seen a noticeable increase in reps. His accuracy still is inconsistent, with one particularly ugly pass hitting tight end Will Yeatman in the ankles on an underneath route.

Gostkowski eased back in. After several days of rookie Chris Koepplin handling the end-of-practice field goals, Stephen Gostkowski took over the duties on Sunday afternoon. He missed wide left and wide right on two deeper kicks, but otherwise looked impressive. Before the drill, Gostkowski was seen successfully hitting 60-yard field goals on the unused practice field, so it's safe to say that Gostkowski is showing few ill effects from his season-ending quad injury from last year.

Returners in focus. With top kick/punt returners Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate and Taylor Price all not practicing this weekend, there has been a different feel to the return units. On the kick return, Darius Butler and Jeremy Ross have handled the duties, while Welker, Branch and Ross have seen the most time at punt returner.

New wrinkle added to D. After the first 16 practices of camp saw little if any three-man defensive line looks from the Patriots, there were some three-man lines mixed into 11-on-11 action on Sunday. The team still stayed in four-man lines most of the time, and coach Bill Belichick has stated there isn't a commitment either way, so this is a development to note, but not one to draw any conclusions from.

Mike Rodak

ESPN Buffalo Bills reporter

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