Pats' o-line a concern in practice

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The Patriots are having a tough time keeping their offensive linemen healthy in training camp, as Bill Belichick manages a short-handed situation on a daily basis.

The ranks were thinned by two on Sunday when rookie left tackle Darrion Weems (Oregon) and second-year offensive tackle Kyle Hix (Texas) didn’t finish practice.

Trainers worked on Weems’ knee/leg in between the practice fields. Weems had been backing up left tackle Nate Solder, and he walked off the field slowly with a member of the athletic training staff and didn’t return.

Meanwhile, Hix came off toward the end of practice after injuring himself in 11-on-11 work. He held his left arm close to his body as he watched the final part of practice between the practice fields.

With Weems and Hix out, and veteran Robert Gallery retiring, the Patriots finished Sunday’s full-pads practice with just eight healthy/eligible-to-practice linemen (Nick McDonald and Derek Dennis are not yet cleared for full-pads work). That’s paper-thin for this time of year and had Marcus Cannon and Nate Solder pulling double duty at both tackle spots on the second unit.

Elsewhere, third-year defensive lineman Kyle Love left practice after apparently getting poked under the facemask by center Dan Koppen in 1-on-1 drills. He walked off the field with a towel over his head, not finishing practice, but it didn't appear to be anything too serious.

Also, fourth-year defensive lineman Ron Brace didn’t participate in practice, as he watched from the sideline in shorts. Meanwhile, rookie receiver Jeremy Ebert (7th round pick, Northwestern) participated in individual drills (he didn’t wear full pads), a sign that he’s coming off the physically unable to perform list (hamstring).

There was a heavy emphasis on situations in the practice, as coach Bill Belichick is prepping the team for game action. The sticks came out for down-and-distance work.

More observations to come.