BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Tank Williams vs. Jerod Mayo for starting ILB spot - Williams,
the career safety and veteran free agent addition, has taken virtually every
first-team rep of camp at inside linebacker alongside Tedy Bruschi. But he's
clearly undersized for the spot and inexperienced. Mayo has shown impressive
improvement on a daily basis and appears more comfortable with every rep he
gets with the second unit. At some point, the experiment at the position (Williams)
will be replaced on the first unit with the future of the position (Mayo). The
No. 10 overall selection has all the tools to be a playmaker at a key position
in the 3-4 front and is already showing early signs of potential stardom.
New England Patriots' Jerod Mayo speaks with reporters at training camp July 25, 2008 (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Cornerback continues to be the most fluid position on
the New England depth chart. Asante Samuel's gone. Ellis Hobbs missed the first
week-plus of camp on PUP with shoulder and groin injuries. Jason Webster, who
had been taking reps with the first unit opposite fellow first-year Patriot
Fernando Bryant, missed nearly a week of workouts for unknown reasons. And rookie
draft picks Terrence Wheatley (second round) and Jonathan Wilhite (fourth round)
clearly have a long way to go. This battle could continue well into the season
before Bill Belichick finds a steady lineup at cornerback.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Randy Moss-- After a record-breaking career rebirth a year
ago, Moss re-signed with New England this spring. But the three years and $27
million don't appear to have slowed the mercurial receiver in any way. On a
daily basis this summer he's taken each and every cornerback that's lined up
against him in practice to school. He's been the only truly consistent player
on the New England offense through a week-plus of camp and appears bent on following
up last season with another impressive campaign.
ROOKIE REPORT: LB Jerod Mayo is still taking reps with the second unit, but
grows more comfortable by the day. He's already showing flashes of the skills
that made him a top 10 pick and the first linebacker Bill Belichick has ever
drafted earlier than the fifth-round in New England. ... CB Terrence Wheatley
took advantage of Jason Webster's absence to take plenty of first-team reps
at cornerback. The second-round pick struggled at times, especially in action
against Randy Moss, but also showed impressive quickness and ball skills in
other reps. ... WR/S/KR Matthew Slater was a surprise fifth-round pick out of
UCLA, but one thing that's come as advertised is his speed in the return game.
He's got the kind of extra gear in the open field that is a prerequisite for
successful NFL return men.
INJURY REPORT: DE Richard Seymour has been in and out of practice with an undisclosed injury, but has been dominant at times when he's been on the practice field. ... CB Jason Webster missed a week of work with an undisclosed injury. ... LT Matt Light hasn't practiced since July 26, no reason for the absence has been given.