Saturday, August 6, 2011
Patriots practice 12 observations
By Mike Rodak
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Observations from Saturday afternoon's practice, the Patriots' twelfth of training camp, which was held in full pads and in cloudy conditions:
Haynesworth, Wright, Spikes remain out. For the second straight practice, defensive linemen Albert Haynesworth and Mike Wright, as well as linebacker Brandon Spikes, were not spotted on the practice fields. The injury situations of these players remains unclear. Also not spotted were running backs Kevin Faulk (active/PUP), Eric Kettani, and Shane Vereen; offensive linemen Marcus Cannon (active/NFI) and Ryan Wendell; defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick (active/PUP); cornerback Thad Turner; and safety Ross Ventrone. It was the first missed practice of camp for both Turner and Ventrone.
Meanwhile, wide receiver Brandon Tate, cornerback Ras-I Dowling, safety James Sanders, linebacker/safety Josh Barrett, offensive linemen Matt Light (active/PUP) and Kyle Hix, and defensive lineman Ron Brace (active/PUP) all were in t-shirts and shorts for the practice.
Pryor returns; DT depth in focus. Defensive tackle Myron Pryor made his practice debut of training camp, signaling his activation from the active/PUP list. With Haynesworth and Wright out of action, Pryor took some reps with the top unit along with Vince Wilfork and Kyle Love. The absence of Haynesworth, Wright, Brace, and Deaderick also has given defensive tackle Kade Weston a chance for more practice time, and he has impressed with good size and strength.
Red zone work a highlight. While the first two-plus hours of practice were at a slower, less pad-thudding pace than previous sessions, the intensity of the workout picked up for red zone work at the end of practice. Safety Sergio Brown set the tone by laying out running back Stevan Ridley at the goal line to prevent a touchdown, while tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski stole the show with multiple touchdown receptions in the drill. Two of Hernandez's catches came as he dove to the ground, with no apparent limitation or hesitation after offseason hip surgery
Ochocinco makes catch of the day. After a practice to forget on Thursday, wide receiver Chad Ochocinco made the catch of practice on Saturday. Streaking down the left side of the field, quarterback Tom Brady lofted a well-placed pass into Ochocinco's hands, with the wide receiver falling backwards as cornerback Malcolm Williams and safety Sergio Brown were in tight coverage. This drew the biggest cheers of the day from the crowd.
Solder snags punt. Apparently in a chance to win a day-off for the team on Sunday, rookie offensive lineman Nate Solder was put up to the task of catching a punt from Zoltan Mesko at the end of practice. Solder didn't disappoint, showing good form as he hauled in the punt and chest-bumped other offensive linemen in celebration.