It was an overcast day at the practice field today, the players seemed to enjoy the break from sweltering away in the hot summer sun. It was a lively full padded two-and-a-half hour session. Without further ado, here are a few observations from today's practice.
- Nate Solder is every bit as imposing as Sebastien Vollmer. With Matt Light still not in full gear, Solder got quite a few reps at left tackle. He had some intense physical match-ups as Eric Moore was giving him everything he could handle throughout practice. Solder held his own though and seemed to fit right in on the offensive line.
- Albert Haynesworth did not practice today. None the less, the Patriots 4-3 alignment looked pretty formidable in full team drills with Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork as the two DT's. Eric Moore was at one end of the line with Jermaine Cunningham switching to the other DE position.
- The offense seemed to get the best of the defense for most of the day, especially in 3rd & 1 situations. On one play, Tom Brady hit Chad Ocho Cinco for a nice acrobatic catch over the middle. In another such situation, they ran rookie Stevan Ridley for a nice gain behind Solder. An impressive performance for both rookies.
- Mr. Ocho Cinco seemed to bring his 'A' game to practice today as Brady was constantly finding him with some spectacular catches. He managed to find the end zone on a couple of occasions and he seems to be acclimating himself quite nicely to the Patriots offensive scheme.
- Sammy Morris was working out a lot with the second and third units in drills. He was catching the ball pretty consistently in practice, but I think the numbers game may catch up with him by the end of camp. With Green-Ellis, Woodhead, Ridley, Shane Vereen and the return of Kevin Faulk, it is hard to see where he fits into the running back rotation.
- The five receiver sets for the Patriots are pretty exciting to watch with Welker, Branch, Ocho Cinco, Woodhead and Hernandez/Gronkowski. It's going to be nearly impossible to eliminate all of their receiving options come game time.
- At the end of practice, the Patriots had a little fun with Nate Solder cleanly handling a punt from Zoltan Mesko. I don't think he'll be competing with Julian Edelmann for punt return duties anytime soon, but it would be fun to see what he could do with a return a la Dan Connolly against the Packers last year.
The Patriots have an off day tomorrow, but resume practice on Monday. With the Jaguars game just four days away, watch for them to pick up their intensity in practice. I'll keep you posted on the Patriots Training Camp Report.