More than 40 Patriots take part on Day 2

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Wearing a gray T-shirt and a black cap backward, and with a white towel hanging from his waistline, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass and fired to receiver Wes Welker on Thursday morning at Boston College's Alumni Stadium.

The over-the-middle pass was complete, and after two-plus hours, Brady, Welker and about 40 other teammates had completed their second team offseason workout of the week. It is the largest team-based workout the Patriots have had during the lockout.

"Everybody's trying to get back into football right now," veteran running back Kevin Faulk, a free agent recovering from ACL surgery, said afterward. "It went well. When you get a large group of guys into a situation in the area [Boston College] they're not accustomed to -- and they actually come out -- it speaks volumes of the commitment of the team."

The group, which is being led by Brady and fellow captains Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, is expected to hold a third workout Friday morning. Some of the players also will take part in Brady's charity football game Friday night at Harvard.

Brady's presence Wednesday and Thursday created a buzz around BC's athletic complex, with students climbing fences to take photos of him and teammates despite heightened security. Brady directed the offense in various drills -- some as simple as one-on-one work with receivers, while others were 11 on 11 and focused on the 2-minute drill and red zone.

The organization and pace reflected what might be seen at an organized team activity at Gillette Stadium.

"We're running around, and we're doing some basic stuff, but it feels good because we're together," sixth-year outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich said. "Everyone is out there having fun. We're just waiting for all this [lockout] stuff to be over with, and we'll be back, hopefully soon."

At one point, Brady lined up at receiver and caught a pass, so it wasn't completely serious. When the Patriots huddled at the end of the workout, players all put their hands together in the air and said, "1-2-3, Team!"

"It's huge for us to just come together," Ninkovich said. "Whenever this lockout is over with, if you don't get together, that's months of not being with your teammates. So it's good to just kind of get a little jump-start on some things. Especially for the younger guys, it's going to help them."

Most of the team's rookies were present, with onlookers catching a glimpse of Brady talking with first-round pick Nate Solder, the left tackle who could soon be protecting his blind side. Brady also worked with third-round pick Ryan Mallett, the quarterback from Arkansas, who connected with receiver Matthew Slater on a 65-yard bomb down the right sideline in 7-on-7 drills.

Overall, though, the rookies' work was limited because they aren't familiar with the team's playbook.
Most players were smiling as they exited Alumni Stadium, walking to the nearby parking garage to depart for the day.

"Team camaraderie and getting ready for next season, we value that highly," Ninkovich said of the impressive turnout of players. "Everybody is trying to get better."

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPNBoston.com.