Minicamp: Patriots Making Plans

The Patriots wrapped minicamp this week and head into a down period before trainign camp. Here are some notes from this week's camp including how the team is making plans to practice against another NFL squad before the preseason.

Patriots hope to work with another team in training camp
The Sports Xchange

   --The Patriots have spoken to the New Orleans Saints about getting together for joint practices during training camp, but scheduling might be an issue due to the fact New Orleans will play in this year's Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5, whereas the Patriots' first preseason game is Aug. 9.

   "It's a little bit of a tight schedule on their end," Belichick said, "so we'll see how it goes."

   The idea is to hold the practices before the preseason opener. If the Saints can't do it, Belichick said there's still a chance the Patriots could work with another team to hold joint practices this summer.

Surprising Addition

   --The Patriots surprised a lot of teams, namely the Giants, when they claimed former New York tight end Jake Ballard off waivers.

   Ballard likely won't be able to play this year due to a knee injury, and the Giants were hoping he'd clear waivers so they'd be able to add him to the physically unable to perform list rather than have him take up a spot on the preseason roster.

   "We'll move along with his rehab, and see how that goes," Belichick said. "He seems to be doing relatively well for where he was at when he had the surgery."

Fighting The Elements
   --Bad weather usually isn't considered lucky, but special teams coach Scott O'Brien didn't mind the dreary conditions because it allowed his kick returners to work on fielding the ball under duress, namely rain and wind.

   "It's a great experience," O'Brien said, "because, especially specialists, they always have something to fall back on. Bill does a good job, even if we're not getting bad elements of mixing them in, if it's wet balls and things like that.

   "It's always good to know exactly what we get here as far as wind patterns, being able to focus on the conditions of being wet, all that kind of stuff. It's good, it's great experience."

   The Patriots haven't settled on any specific players for kick- and punt-return duty, but one name being mentioned is veteran receiver Donte Stallworth, who's back on the roster following a one-year stint with New England during their perfect season in 2007.

   "Donte's just like (cornerback) Devin (McCourty)," O'Brien said. "When we got Devin as a rookie, we got him exposed to it, and we got him experience doing it, so he does it, too. You never have enough; it's been good so far for those guys."

Gregory Filling The Gap
   --The feedback on veteran safety Steve Gregory has been positive thus far. The Patriots are hoping the former San Diego Charger can fill a void in their pass defense, a problem that has plagued them throughout the past two years.

   "He's a smart dude," safety Patrick Chung said. "He can make plays. He can see things. He's a veteran out there. I'm learning things from him, too. He might see things I don't see. He's picking up on the stuff. He's picking it up fast, so it's good."

   Added safeties coach Brian Flores: "He's done a good job during these OTAs and minicamp. He's bright. He's a team guy. Wherever we put him, he's done a good job, learning the defense. He's great. What I like about him is that he's a team-first guy. He's willing to learn all positions. He's very versatile, and he's smart."

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