Only one practice
Conditions: The temperature was 90' with conditions that made it feel as if it were 96' Bright skies.
Sightings: Donte Stallworth, Richard Seymour, Garrett Mills, Randy Moss, Troy Brown. One other Patriot player dressed in Under Armor was out on the field, but his identity was difficult to determine. Reportedly Kyle Brady worked out on the secluded practice field.
Tempo: Practice was a walk through session, and players were dressed in helmets and shorts. Walk throughs allow players from the PUP list to return and actually walk though the plays with the rest of the team.
Happy Birthday Tom
Quarterback Tom Brady must have had better things to do than to practice on his birthday, but you wouldn't know it as the veteran signal caller was all business on the field. Fans showed their appreciation for the team leader by signing happy birthday from the stands at least three times. Brady turned 30 on Friday.
With linebacker Adalius Thomas not participating in the team's walk through, rookie Oscar Lua was the one to benefit the most. Lua stepped in to take reps with the first team at inside linebacker, a spot he's been seeing more time at during camp. Players rotated in and out of the lineup based up down and distance situations, yet Lua saw a fair amount of time with the starting group.
Lua knows that it's he isn't about to replace the most versatile linebacker
on the team, but appreciated the opportunity to see more plays.
He's Still My Hero
During the Patriots minicamp Oscar Lua's head was spinning. New plays, new coaches, new uniform and new expectations were thrown at him from every direction. Yet less than 10 feet away from where he addressed questions was a familiar site; Junior Seau's name, located on a tag above Seau's locker. Lua said at the time, he was awestruck being able to be so close to his childhood idol.
Has the awe factor worn off for Lua now that he has lined up next to Seau rather than just look at that?
"No not at all" Lua said with a huge smile. "He's still Junior Seau. I idolized him growing up." Lua's excitement level rose as memories of Seau's glory days flooded his mind. "Junior is one of the greatest linebackers to play this game, and I'm fortunate enough to be around him," Lua continued. "I don't think the awe factor is ever going to go away."
Holding Down The Right Side
For Patriots right tackle Nick Kaczur, things are going well in his preparation for the season compared to his last off-season. Kaczur spoke of the challenge of coming back from a shoulder that sidelined him for much of the off-season, and how he felt he was in a better position to be prepared this year.
"During the off-season program I was coming off the injury last year.
Kaczur said. "(This year) I have all that under my belt. I have mincamps
and all that, so I'm definitely feeling a lot better."
While he feels having strength is important, to him, technique is equally important. "You still have to have good technique," he said. "It doesn't matter how strong you are. Some people are strong in the weight room, some have it naturally." After thinking about it for a moment, Kaczur agreed having strength is certainly a necessary asset. "It helps," he admitted.
For now, the third year pro out of Toledo has different concerns. He's in a tight battle for a starting role on the starting offensive line with second-year tackle Ryan O'Callaghan. Until Kaczur returned to the starting lineup in week nine against Indianapolis, O'Callaghan held down the job. Both players have split reps with the first unit. It's one of the team's close roster competitions.
Morgan Elected to the Hall
Patriots wide receiver Stanley Morgan was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame yesterday. Thrilled at the honor, Morgan complimented his fellow nominees. "I think Ben Coates is one of the top tight ends in the league," Morgan said of one of Drew Bledsoe's favorite targets. Although he wasn't familiar with Ron Burton's play, Morgan was pleased to be associated with him as well. "I have heard a lot of good things about [Burton] from some guys that actually played with him. So I knew there were three great prospects there and to be nominated and win over those two, my hat goes off to the fans."
Morgan holds the Patriots career receiving yards record at 10,352 and knows something about quarterbacks. When asked which of the NFL's current top quarterbacks he would rather have, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, Morgan laughed and said; "Me being in New England, I have to go with Tom Brady. He has proven himself over and over again. He is a great quarterback." Morgan didn't want to leave Manning out however. "Peyton is a great quarterback [too]. This past year he was been able to get over the hump. ... I think you have to put Brady at the top because Brady has done it time and time again."
How does it feel to be in front of the microphone speaking with the media? "Awesome," according to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who responded with a wide grin. McDaniels was the first assistant coach to speak with the media in training camp, taking the spot usually reserved for head coach Bill Belichick.
Getting used to his new role in front of the microphone isn't McDaniels' biggest challenge, that comes from the new faces he gets to coach on the field. "It's a different challenge when you change people because you're trying to get familiar with their skill set and what they can do for you," McDaniels said. "I think that it's one that you're excited about."
McDaniels feels that the eventual results will pay off after having the new faces in for the whole off-season, "The earlier you have them during the course of the calendar year, the better off you're going to be," he said. "We got a lot of work in during the spring and that's really where those new players really learned the system and got a foundation."
What do fans have to look forward to? The same thing McDaniels does, an explosive offense on the field. It's just that it may take a little time to sort out. "I think what we are excited most about is trying to find out exactly how to use who we have because a lot of pieces are a little bit different this year," McDaniels said.
Next practice is Sunday at 5pm. The players have Saturday off for their first break in camp.
Jon Scott has covered the NFL since 1995. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long time contributor to the Scout.com network. A New England native, Scott has followed the Patriots for over two decades and covered the team since 2001. He can be found in the Insider's Lounge under the handle JSinCT.