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Thursday, July 29, 2010
Another view from practice, Part 2

By Mike Rodak

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- intern Mike Rodak files his observations from the Patriots' second training camp practice, which was held in full pads under sunny skies and in hot conditions after a damp morning session:

Matt Slater & Bret Lockett hobble off. During passing drills, wide receiver Slater appeared to suffer a left ankle injury. He was examined by the team’s medical staff, limped to the middle of the field and did not return to practice. Later in the session, safety Lockett was seen leaving the field under his own power with a member of the medical staff.

Linebacker coverage highlighted. On the near side of the field, running backs and linebackers participated in a passing coverage drill, with a back going one-on-one against a linebacker. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis dropped two passes thrown his way, while rookie inside linebacker Dane Fletcher was beaten twice on outside routes by backs. At one point, Kevin Faulk lined up against Jerod Mayo, who proceeded to commit a holding penalty on Faulk. The veteran back returned to the line, pushed a tackling dummy out of the way, and ran the drill again, beating Mayo handily on his route the second time around. The crowd cheered.

Red zone work. Like the morning session, the afternoon practice featured 11-on-11 red zone drills, this time with the passing game coming into play. Safety Patrick Chung was beaten twice in the end zone for touchdowns, one against the larger rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski, after which Chung was visibly frustrated. In the same drill, linebacker Gary Guyton intercepted a Tom Brady pass and returned it down to the open end of the practice field.

Special teams in focus. Early in practice, a handful of players from each position worked on the side with special teams coach Scott O’Brien on kickoff coverage technique. During Thursday’s morning session, those players were linebackers Marques Murrell, Dane Fletcher, Tyrone McKenzie, Eric Alexander, Pierre Woods, and Thomas Williams. For the afternoon practice, defensive backs Sergio Brown, Bret Lockett, Kyle Arrington, Ross Ventrone and running backs Chris Taylor, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and Thomas Clayton participated in this drill.

Passing game sharp. After a morning session that featured a number of dropped passes in slippery conditions, the afternoon practice was highlighted by crisper connections between the team’s quarterbacks and receivers, with few dropped balls. What also stood out was the depth of the options at receiver and tight end, coming off a season in which Randy Moss and Wes Welker shouldered most of the load.

Penalty laps. For the second time in the day, rookie quarterback Zac Robinson and center Ryan Wendell ran a penalty lap around the practice field after a botched snap exchange.

Attendance steady. No players who were present for the morning workout were absent for the afternoon workout. Four of the players absent in the morning -- Wes Welker, Ron Brace, Darnell Jenkins, and Sam Aiken -- watched the first few stages of practice before continuing their rehab. Outside linebacker Derrick Burgess was again absent from practice.