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Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Patriots practice 27: Observations

By Mike Rodak

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Student assistant Mike Rodak files some of his observations from Tuesday afternoon’s practice, the Patriots’ 27th and final of training camp, which was held in shorts and shoulder pads on the practice fields behind the Atlanta Falcons training facility.

The practice got off to a late start, with the teams first allowing a thunderstorm to move through the area. By the end of practice, heat and humidity were high.

13 players once again missing. All players who were on the field for the morning session were also present in the afternoon. Linebacker Thomas Williams was again on the sidelines in a t-shirt and shorts. Players not present were wide receivers Matthew Slater and Darnell Jenkins; offensive linemen Nick Kaczur and George Bussey; defensive lineman Damione Lewis; linebackers Tully Banta-Cain, Jermaine Cunningham, Gary Guyton, and Dane Fletcher; and defensive backs Leigh Bodden, Bret Lockett, Terrence Johnson, and Josh Barrett.

Pryor leaves practice. Defensive lineman Myron Pryor was spotted leaving practice with the team’s medical staff. The injury appeared to be to his hand, although it is unclear how Pryor was injured. The second-year player missed five practices earlier in training camp with a hand injury. If the injury knocks him out of Thursday's game, it would further deplete the team's depth up front, possibly putting rookie free agent Kyle Love in a top backup role at nose tackle.

Sub packages in focus. Much of the teams’ 11-on-11 work was focused on the sub packages. Outside linebacker Derrick Burgess saw significant time in these drills as a pass rusher, and looks as if he is making strides after missing the majority of training camp. With other outside linebackers Tully Banta-Cain and Jermaine Cunningham not present, Rob Ninkovich saw most of the reps at the other pass-rushing position.

Chris Taylor struggles. Veteran running back Chris Taylor had a rough afternoon practice session. During goal line 7-on-7 drills, Taylor dropped a well-thrown pass in the end zone. Later on, Taylor had another critical drop during full-team work, drawing the ire of running backs coach Ivan Fears.

Brady throws interception. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made an uncharacteristic mistake early in practice on Tuesday afternoon, throwing an interception to Falcons cornerback Chevis Jackson. With the Patriots backed up against their own end zone in the drill, the interception was returned for a touchdown by Jackson. It was unclear if there was a miscommunication with Randy Moss on the route.

Fred Taylor drops pass; gets pulled aside by Brady. After veteran running back Fred Taylor dropped a pass from Tom Brady in 7-on-7 red-zone work, he was pulled aside by Brady and had about 10-15 footballs fired in his direction. Taylor has struggled at times in a pass-catching role in training camp.

Emotions rise at end of practice. The final segment of practice featured 11-on-11 work in the red zone. During one play, members from the Patriots defensive line got heated with Falcons offensive linemen, although it was unclear who was at the center of the scuffle. It turned out to be the final play of the day, putting an end to nearly three weeks of training camp for the Patriots.