- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Wrapping up the 13th day of training camp and the key storylines:
Saints take it to Patriots. All players and coaches seemed to be in agreement that the joint practice between the Saints and Patriots was a great idea, adding a spark in the middle of training camp. In drills when the teams went against each other, the Saints had more success. The Patriots' offense, in particular, struggled as Tom Brady was intercepted twice. "They came out a little rusty, but this is practice, and that's why you practice," Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton said. "When it's a game, you know Tom Brady is going to be Tom Brady."
Belichick arrives 51 minutes into practice. Bill Belichick explained that he was coaching with a heavy heart after having attended the funeral for Garrett Reid, the son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, earlier in the day. Belichick was invited to travel on Saints owner Tom Benson's plane, along with members of the Saints' staff. He arrived 51 minutes into practice, just in time for when the action picked up -- both teams going against each other after individual stretching and drills.
Record crowd of 14,830. The Patriots announced a record crowd of 14,830, and one of the differences between this practice and others is that no one seemed to want to leave their seat. There was a wonderful moment of appreciation for military personnel, who circled the field toward the end of practice and were given a standing ovation by those in attendance.
Brady & Brees 'picnic' after practice. In a neat scene after practice, Brady and Saints quarterback Drew Brees sat together in the end zone, almost as if they were having a post-workout picnic. Brady was petting a dog, and a small circle was filled out with Brady's wife Gisele Bundchen, his throwing coach Tom House and backup quarterback Brian Hoyer and his newborn son. At one point, Brady called his son down to join the circle. Something you don't see often in training camp.
Bon Jovi in the crowd. Jon Bon Jovi watched the practice from the sideline after arriving with Patriots owner Robert Kraft and visiting with Saints owner Tom Benson. The Patriots played some of Bon Jovi's music in the early part of practice, adding to the flavor of the day.
Offensive line remains a concern. The Patriots remain thin along the offensive line, with starter Nate Solder forced to take additional reps at the end of practice that would normally go to someone else. Meanwhile, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon struggled in one-on-one drills, with third-year end Junior Galette beating him badly on one attempt.
Spikes remains out; Hightower in the middle. With starting middle linebacker Brandon Spikes not practicing -- he's been out the last few sessions -- the Patriots had rookie Dont'a Hightower in the middle. Between Hightower and fellow first-round draft choice Chandler Jones, who played a lot at right end and batted down a pass, the Patriots appear as if they'll be counting a lot on their two big-name rookies.
Full pads for Ebert for first time. Receiver Jeremy Ebert, the seventh-round draft choice out of Northwestern, practiced in full pads for the first time in camp (he opened on the PUP list). Ebert also joined the team's punt return mix, with Julian Edelman, Wes Welker, Patrick Chung, Ross Ventrone and Aaron Hernandez.
Interviews aplenty after practice. Reporters had no shortage of players and coaches to speak to after practice. On the Patriots' side, in addition to Belichick, defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, tight end Rob Gronkowski, cornerback Devin McCourty and Welker were among those drawing big crowds. On the Saints' side, interim head coach Joe Vitt, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo all answered questions, while Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham headlined the players who spoke.
Star performer of the day. Hernandez. The tight end's one-handed catch for a touchdown was one of the highlights for an offense that didn't click at its usual high level.
Tough day at the office. Kyle Arrington. Cornerback was beaten a few times down the field, with second-year receiver Joseph Morgan getting behind him.
Storyline to monitor. Status of PUP offensive linemen Logan Mankins and Sebastian Vollmer. The present picture on the offensive line is unsettling, but the return of Mankins and Vollmer would dramatically alter the outlook.
Rookie watch. Defensive end Chandler Jones drew a comparison to the Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul from Saints left tackle Jermon Bushrod. ... Ebert made a nice catch, but also mishandled a punt. ... Offensive lineman Dustin Waldron was shaken up at the end of practice. ... Running back Brandon Bolden continues to get quality reps.