Patriots Minicamp Report: Day Two

Patriots mandatory minicamp day two was filled with more spectacular catches, plenty of competition, some minor drama and a number of players talking about what it takes to make it in New England. Patriots Insider takes a look at Day Two of New England's mandatory minicamp without receiver Deion Branch

Defensive back Ellis Hobbs came to minicamp last year looking to prove to his new coaches and teammates that he could play.

"When you're a rookie like I was last year, my main objective was to show the coaches that I belong out there," said Hobbs, who worked his way into more and more playing time as the 2005 season went on. "Whether it's nickel and dime or special teams, not necessarily trying to earn a starting spot, but just to be on the team."

Hobbs returned to minicamp this year having already proven he can play and contribute to one of the league's best defenses, and is taking a more vocal role on the field during drills with a year of experience under his belt.

"I feel more confident in what I'm doing out there this year," said Hobbs, who has been playing cornerback on the first defense and getting some work in on returning punts. "If we all speak and get on the same page, we can be successful."

The second day of Patriots minicamp came and went as coaches and players looked to lay down the foundation for a successful season.

Linebacker Rosevelt Colvin feels minicamp is a time for the veterans and rookies to develop team chemistry.

"I think when you come here in minicamp, you set the foundation for what you're going to be doing at training camp," said the Purdue alum who is entering his eighth season in professional football. "If you get a group of guys who are committed, it shows up on the field. We want to make sure we are mentally strong and fundamentally strong and this is the place to do that."

Colvin has been playing on the first defensive unit as outside linebacker with Mike Vrabel and middle linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Monty Beisel.

Beisel is looking to regain the starting spot he lost last season. The veteran has gained more than 10 pounds during the offseason and looks faster and stronger on the field.

On the topic of speed, rookies Laurence Maroney and Chad Jackson proved they have the burners to spark the Patriots offense.

Jackson used his speed to get open against Hobbs to catch a touchdown in the afternoon session, was sharp in mobility drills, and even wowed the media contingency with some tough one-handed grabs.

Maroney's quickness was evident during rushing drills and in the short passing game. His speed was evident as he made cuts to get to the hole and on screen passes. He also proved to be a nice compliment to Corey Dillon, who looked rather sluggish in both sessions but has already had a positive impact on the team's newest first-round pick.

"He's a great person to learn from," Maroney said of Dillon. "Corey told me to work hard and do the best I can do, and if I make a mistake to make it going 100 percent. He's been there and done what I'm trying to do so it's good to learn from him."

One person Maroney and Dillon are surely happy to see is offensive tackle Matt Light, who seems to have fully recovered from a knee injury that forced him to miss several games last season.

Light looked strong in pass- and run-blocking drills, and was impressive during one blocking drill where offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia had his ‘hogs hold weights in their hands.

"It's tough for anybody when you're dealing with an injury," Light said about his frustrations last season for not being able to play.

On the sidelines but not participating in either session yesterday was safety Eugene Wilson.

"I would say (some players) are physically in different spots," said the notoriously tight-lipped Bill Belichick. "Some guys are doing some things, other guys are doing other things." James Sanders and back-again Tebucky Jones have been getting most of the snaps at safety with the first defensive unit.


Wide receiver Deion Branch was a no-show for the second straight day of mandatory minicamp. Branch's absence was expected as the receiver is utilizing his decision not to participate as a negotiating ploy. … Both Martin Gramatica and fourth-round pick Stephen Gostkowski got work on field goals and kickoffs. Both kickers made field goals from close to 50 yards, but neither was perfect on the day. Gramatica seemed to have the edge in distance on kickoffs. … Forever young Troy Brown is on the first line of receivers with Jackson and Reche Caldwell and has been nearly flawless in drills so far in minicamp. "There are a lot of things to like about Troy," Belichick said about Brown, who practiced returning punts with Caldwell, Jackson, Kevin Faulk, Vernell Brown, Willie Andrews and Bam Childress during the afternoon session. "Troy has been a very consistent player for us and a very versatile one." … Caldwell and other receivers were seen doing pushups for dropping passes during the morning session. …Ben Watson continues to impress and seems to be quarterback Tom Brady's favorite target so far this year. Watson had a nice catch to score a touchdown during the afternoon session. … Brady and second-year signal caller Matt Cassel looked sharp during one passing drill where they threw the ball from the 10-yard line and hit the bottom of the field-goal crossbar. … When the Pats went to a 4-3 alignment on defense, the front four might be the beefiest line in the league with Richard Seymour and Ty Warren on the ends and Vince Wilfork and Jonathan Sullivan in the middle. Those four alone weigh more than 1,250 pounds. … Scott Pioli was seen during the morning session, as was University of Florida coach Urban Meyer. Owner Robert Kraft made appearances during both sessions, and former University of Virginia and New York Jets coach Al Groh was also on the sidelines. … The team ended the afternoon practice session with 100-yard sprints. … Linemen Dan Koppen and Brandon Gorin were among those not on the field. Also nowhere in sight were Rodney Harrison, Randall Gay, Daniel Graham, Patrick Pass, Artrell Hawkins, Jarvis Green and Raymond Ventrone. Both Hank Poteat and Rich Musinski made their minicamp debuts.

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